For the second straight year, the pen proved mightier than the brush as the Writers beat the Artists on one of the hottest days of the summer at the 69th annual Artists & Writers Charity Softball Game this past Saturday at Herrick Park in East Hampton.
This year’s game gave fans a chance to join in on the fun like never before. It started with the Future Artists & Writers Kids Clinic Presented by People’s United Bank and led by Hampton Baseball Camp, which was followed by the first-ever Hamptons Home Run Challenge, sponsored by Nest Seekers. Teams of two had 60 seconds to hit as many home runs as possible. The crowd roared as batters launched balls over the fence and even into the tennis courts at Herrick Park.
Saturday had all the makings for a great game—a gorgeous day, a great turnout, celebrity cameos (Ralph Lauren stopped by) and, of course, star-studded lineups.
Though friendships extended across the baselines into both dugouts, there was no love lost between the two sides. Sportswriter Mike Lupica gave the Writers team a pep talk before they took the field to start the game, concluding emphatically, “Let’s beat their ass!” Lupica started the game pitching to catcher Carl Bernstein, the journalist of Watergate fame.
Graphic designer Walter Bernard started on the mound for the Artists, and it didn’t take long for the first argument to ensue. After the first Writer beat out a throw to first base that went over the fence, Writers manager Ken Auletta came on the field, as did Artists manager Leif Hope, and the two argued to umpire Dan Rattiner over whether or not the runner was entitled to take second base, since the ball went out of play. The runner was ultimately awarded second base, and would eventually come around to score, putting the Writers up 1–0. Bernstein struck out to end the inning, throwing his bat in disgust.
The Artists got sneaky in the second inning when they swapped their shoddy infielders with local softball players. The Writers smoked two ground balls, but the new fielders made both plays with ease.
The Artists got on the board in the third with three consecutive hits. Brian Pfund drove in a run, then Ed Hollander singled, and they both came home on Dennis Duswalt’s inside-the-park home run. The Artists put up five runs in that inning, but the Writers bounced back in the bottom of the third with three straight hits from Benito Vila, Tom LaGrassa and Jordan Green to bring the score to 5–4.
In that eventful third inning, Lupica injured himself sprinting through first base while legging out on an infield single. The Writers brought in a pinch runner while Lupica lay sprawled on his back, icing his injured leg. Harry Javer took to the mound to take over pitching duties the following inning.
Eric Ernst, who has likely played in this game more times than almost anyone else, added a hit for the Artists. Unfortunately, the Artists’ power hitters, Eddie McCarthy and CBS 2’s Chris Wragge, went hitless, though McCarthy did draw a rare walk. Russell Blue wowed the crowd with a diving catch and bullet of a base hit.
The Writers would go on to take a 7–5 lead after Rick Leventhal tied the game with a double and scored the go-ahead run. Meanwhile, Javer effectively shut down the Artists offense after taking the mound in the 4th.
The Artists got within 7–6 in the top of the 8th thanks to Michael Dougherty’s aggressive base running, but the Writers defense preserved the lead with terrific plays from Vila in centerfield and LaGrassa at shortstop. Third baseman Brett Shevack got down and dirty, making diving catches on screaming line drives to rob the Artists of multiple hits. Shevack’s defense and Javer’s pitching earned the pair Co-MVP honors.
The Writers added two insurance runs in the bottom of the 8th, and, fittingly, Shevack recorded all three outs in the top of the 9th to seal the win for the Writers, who emerged from the grueling heat with a 9–6 victory—identical to last year’s result.
After the game, the competitiveness on both sides dissipated, and the teams shook hands and exchanged congratulations all around for yet another successful game full of fun that brought people together for a great cause—supporting local charities The Retreat, East End Hospice, Eleanor Whitmore Early Childhood Center and Phoenix House Academy of Long Island.