By Paul Delaney
Staff Reporter 

Hartman hits home run with 'they learned it in Little League' essay

Crunch Time


Last updated 6/23/2017 at 1:04pm

The now threadbare and well-used book title tells us that according to minister and author Robert Fulghum, “All I Really Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten.”

That is actually the first title of a group of works Fulghum penned in 1986 that dealt with a wide range of the “stuff” that happens in life. You know, childhood, holidays, death and etc.

He found lessons normally learned by young children in their first true classroom experience and wrote about how the world could be better if adults remembered and practiced same basics such as sharing, being kind to one another, cleaning up after themselves and any number of other things.

Following the tragic attempted assassination attempt of Louisiana Congressman and Republican House Majority Leader, Steve Scalise at a June 13 baseball practice, there was — as could be expected — plenty of finger pointing and turning the incident on the baseball diamond into a political football.

Which brought CBS reporter and essayist, Steve Hartman, to craft his own Fulghum-esque piece on the June 18 edition of that network’s 7 a.m. magazine program, “Sunday Morning.”

For those unfamiliar with “Sunday Morning,” it’s a refreshing and generally a-political program filled each week with short stories. They run the gamut from personality profiles, like the one recently of late Gregg Allman, to a hilarious few moments spent listening to comedian Jim Gaffican lament shaving his sparse red beard that covered his double — and admittedly triple — chin.

But Hartman, certainly in my estimation at least, hit a home run in his 2 1/2 minute segment by suggesting, as Fulghum might have, “That everything Congress needs to know about fixing our political acrimony, they already learned in Little League.”

“In Little League they teach you that losers don’t whine, winners don’t gloat and you don’t question a call based on the umpire’s heritage,” Hartman wrote.

Just as Fulghum observed, however, and Hartman reiterated Sunday, “These things are no-brainers to young minds, but for some reason, we forget those life lessons in our later innings.”

The members of Congress, who have once a year since 1909 found a way to bridge the river of bad blood that runs between the aisles of the respective sides of the Capitol, play a charity baseball game. It was as Scalise and many more members of the Republican caucuses — both House and Senate — were practicing June 13 for a game two nights later at Nationals Park when James Hodgkinson opened fire.

Thanks to the presence of members of the Capitol Police, who accompany certain high-ranking members of Congress, the only fatality was the shooter. But still, Hodgkinson delivered shots that critically wounded Scalise and inflicted serious injury to four others.

If there’s any good to be had out of this, Hartman observed, it was how during the game of real live hardball, participants of both the red and blue persuasion gathered in prayer around second base.

The Democrats won the game handily, 11-2, and now, with eight wins in their last nine tries, have narrowed the all-time series to 42-40 and a tie in favor of the “Rs.”

But the real winners were the combined charities of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Washington, the Washington Nationals Dream Foundation and the Washington Literacy Center who will split a record $1 million and counting in donations.

Galvanizing behind causes wears off quickly, more so it seems in Washington, D.C. So to ward off the return of rust to a briefly harmonious time, Hartman had a turn-back-the-clock suggestion.

“The postgame handshake is the bedrock of Little League,” Hartman opined. “Kids do it after every game all the way through college. It stops in the pros, Hartman — who must not be a hockey fan — noted.

At the conclusion of every series in hockey’s Stanley Cup, players who have hit each other with reckless abandon, and done everything short to committing mayhem with their sticks, line up to shake hands and wish their opponent well.

“After every session of Congress, after every State of the Union, both parties should line up, as they did Thursday night, just to say “good job,” “thanks for being here,” Hartman concluded.

Wishful thinking for sure, but certainly worth wishing for.

Paul Delaney can be reached at


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