Bill Clinton, Big Home Run Highlights 65th Artists-Writers Softball Game

Bill Clinton Jim Leyritz Artists Writers Game East Hampton
Photo by Tom Ratcliffe III

On a day that couldn’t have been more perfect for baseball, the Artists bested the Writers, 8–6, in the 65th annual Artists & Writers Softball game on Saturday.

With so much more to keep you eye on than the ball, Artists & Writers is the kind of game that prompted an announcer to note, “Thank God someone is keeping score” before the top of the 7th. Former President Bill Clinton started the game off on a high note with a visit in the 2nd. When announcer Juliet Papa asked him if he’d be calling balls and strikes this year, he responded with a wry, “No, I don’t think so. I’ve made enough decisions in my life,” before posing for photos with fans on the field.

The day was full of the serious—like two home runs—the hilarious—was former Yankee Jim Leyritz was up to bat every other inning?—and the philanthropic, as East End Hospice, East Hampton Day Care Learning Center, Phoenix House and The Retreat all benefitted from donations and raffle contributions.

Announcers Papa, James Lipton and Fred Graver delivered the one-liners, like “[Umpire and New York City Polish Commish Ray] Kelly will be doing a stop and frisk if someone attempts to steal.” Matt Lauer, Judge Richard Lowe III and Dan Rattiner also took umping duties.

Dan Rattiner Umps 65th Artists Writers Game
Dan Rattiner Calls the Pitch… Photo by Tom Ratcliffe III

The heated competition saw the Artists and Writers trade leads, tying it at 5-5 in the bottom of the fifth. But Artist Jamie Patricof then came through with a two-run homer, and the writers couldn’t make it up the divide.

Just in case you forgot this was a game played on the East End, the game harkened back to the area’s roots when Leyritz was thrown a “melon ball” …a.k.a. a turnip. He hit the veggie out of the park… or he would have, had it not broke into numerous pieces.

“They kept on trying to sneak me in there every once in awhile, but Leif [Hope] told me last night that he was going to do something to distract me…The tradition got me,” said Leyritz. After the antics, the announcers quipped that the tradition goes back to the Willem de Kooning and Jackson Pollock era, and that Pollock later sold the “melon ball” splatter for $6 million.

After the game, Patricof was named MVP. “I was considering retiring after the home run because there’s nothing left for me to do,” said the first-time player. “They’ll be talking about me forever, the guy who hit the homer run but never played again. But I’ll keep coming.”

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