The RBI’s of Texas, a Senate Softball League team, have yet to play a game this season (scheduling conflicts have hampered early efforts). But don’t let the incomplete record lead you to believe that it’s a novice team trying to find its bearings.
The team has a rich history that goes back to at least 1985, when it was originally called the Gramm Slammers, a tribute to the then-newly elected Sen. Phil Gramm. The team’s first wave of players worked for the Texas Republican at the time.
Today, the team is a collection of staffers from the Texas delegation and players from other teams with roots in the Lone Star State.
“We’ve cobbled together some folks from other Texas teams,” head coach and Division 5 Commissioner Bill Christian said.
Along with a handful of others on the current team, Christian has played for both incarnations of the team.
He took over the coaching reins in the mid-1990s after some time spent away from Washington, D.C., in the Marine Corps.
In 1996, the team played its first season under the new name, an ode to the alma mater of the University of Texas. With the name change, the professional complexion of the team changed as well, adding staffers from the office of Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas).
Over the years, the team has had players who went on to become professional heavyweights, including Rep. Pete Olson (R-Texas) and Steve McMillin, who was the No. 2 at the Office of Management and Budget during the George W. Bush administration.
Christian, who now plays sparingly, has an impressive résumé in his own right. He previously worked in the Reagan administration and both Bush White Houses. He was also chief of staff for Rep. John Culberson (R-Texas).
With longevity has come success. According to Christian, the Gramm Slammers won a few division titles back in the 1980s. The RBI’s of Texas have been crowned championed of the SSL twice since the name change.
In 2006, the RBI’s won the championship of their league and the King of the Hill game, which matches the winners of the SSL and the House Softball League. The following season, the team topped its league again but lost the King of the Hill game.
While some might treasure Washington for its landmarks, food and political culture, Christian noted that softball is one of the finer activities the city has to offer, particularly for those here for the long haul.
“It’s probably one of the funnest aspects of life in D.C., waiting for summer to come around and getting out on the Mall and playing softball,” he said. “It’s a fun social outlet in a very overheated environment.”