Newspaper article Roll Call

Caruso: Softball Socialist or People's Hero?

Newspaper article Roll Call

Caruso: Softball Socialist or People's Hero?

Article excerpt

Gary Caruso has spent the past 30-plus years moving in and out of Congressional offices and committees, agency appointments, private- sector positions and stints in the White House. He's a Washington insider in every sense of the word -- but he'd probably prefer the term "infielder."

Caruso has served as commissioner of the Congressional Softball League for almost 30 years. In a career spanning four decades, 15 Congresses and five presidents, Caruso has been a constant presence from May to September in downtown Washington, D.C.

The CSL was founded in 1971 as Capitol Hill's casual league, or "B" division. "B" in this case stood for beer-drinking, which is tolerated during games more than anywhere this side of the Red Sox clubhouse. Originally a friendly alternative to the more structured, competitive balls-and-strikes league, it ultimately absorbed those teams upon the latter league's folding during the 1980s.

After earning a bachelor's degree from the University of Notre Dame and a master's from the University of Pittsburgh, Caruso began his Hill career in the late 1970s, working for former Rep. Austin Murphy (D-Pa.) -- and, of course, playing softball. He took over operation of the CSL in the early '80s after a few years of successfully running its popular end-of-season tournament.

Caruso left the Hill after Republicans won control of Congress in 1994, but the rise of the Internet has allowed him to continue running the league effectively.

"Originally, organizing a league meant you had to send a 'Dear Colleague' letter, and people had to fill out all the stuff and send it back," Caruso said. "It was really a labor of love. ... When technology broke in, it became a lot easier and a lot more routine."

For the most part, the biggest headaches of Caruso's job today come from administrative hiccups -- accidental double- registrations, payment problems and the like. …

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