Athletic Pace Picking Up

The Artists-Writers Game
The Artists-Writers Game, an annual agon dating to the mid-1950s, and a fund-raiser since 1968, whose major beneficiaries are the East Hampton Day Care Learning Center, Phoenix Houses of Long Island, and East End Hospice.

    The summer’s athletic pace picks up this weekend, what with open water swims in Gardiner’s Bay, road races in Southampton and Amagansett, and a softball tournament at the Terry King ball field on tap, to be followed, on Aug. 20 and 21, by the Artists and Writers Softball Game, an ancient (frequently madcap) tilt that has been surprisingly well played in the recent past, and the popular Ellen’s (5K) Run, which is in its 16th year.
    “Since it’s in its 16th year, I’m hoping we will draw 1,600 runners,” said Dr. Julie Ratner, who began the breast cancer research, treatment, and outreach fund-raiser in memory of Ellen P. Hermanson, her late sister.
    “All the money, except for $5,000 that goes toward an annual symposium for judges and lawyers on topics related to breast cancer, stays here,” said Ratner during a conversation this week. “We’ve raised $3 million so far, and have donated more than $1 million to Southampton Hospital, which now has a breast cancer imaging center with the same equipment that you’d find in a teaching hospital, or at Sloan-Kettering, or at Stony Brook. . . . The American College of Radiology has cited it as a breast cancer imaging center of excellence. That’s not Southampton Hospital saying that. It’s like an accreditation in the academic world, or a juried article.”
    The Aug. 21 race, based at Southampton Hospital, is to start near it at 9 a.m., “rain or shine.”
    “We’re a run, but we walk the talk,” when it comes to the money raised remaining here, said Ratner.
    Ditto the Artists-Writers Game, an annual agon dating to the mid-1950s, and a fund-raiser since 1968, whose major beneficiaries are the East Hampton Day Care Learning Center, Phoenix Houses of Long Island, and East End Hospice.
    The Aug. 20 Game, said Debbie McEneaney, is to start an hour earlier this year, at 2 p.m. rather than at 3. Batting practice, she said, would begin at noon. And, because of a new Web site that has attracted much attention, both squads should have big benches.
    Jim Leyritz, the former New York Yankees catcher with the fencer’s batting stance, whose three-run home run in the eighth inning of game four of the 1996 World Series with the Atlanta Braves shifted the momentum toward the Bronx Bombers, is to play for the Writers, as are Mike Lupica, Ken Auletta, Carl Bernstein, Richard Reeves, Rod Gilbert, Mark Green, Roger Rosenblatt, and Mort Zuckerman.
    “Jim Leyritz has written a book, which qualifies him,” said McEneaney. “Now we’ll see whether he can hit our pitching. I was reminded that Dale Berra, who played a few years ago [after satisfying the Artists’ manager, Leif Hope, that he could paint a passable landscape], popped up and struck out.”
    McEneaney said that Countess LuAnn de Lesseps, who reportedly played softball in high school, could well start on the mound for the Artists, among whose heavy hitters are expected to be Alec Baldwin, Christie Brinkley, and Ed Hollander, whose two-run single in the top of the 10th inning was to win the 2010 showdown for the Artists, 15-14. McEneaney added that a group of choristers from local churches and synagogues is being assembled to sing the national anthem before the game begins, and that David O’Leary, a well-known Irish tenor, would sing during the seventh-inning stretch.
    Hope said he was working on two turnips to be served up to unsuspecting Writer batters. “Mort [Zuckerman, the Writers’ designated mogul] blasted Donald Trump on TV recently for thinking of running for president. I’ve invited Trump so he can bat against Mort, but I’ve gotten no response.”
    Asked if there would be a female fireballer pitching for the Artists this year, Hope said, “I can’t do it — the Writers’ characters are so fragile. Times are hard enough without some wise guy trying to humiliate them.”
    He would, he said, try to gather together some collegians who have been playing in the Hamptons wooden bat league this summer, “players from the Sag Harbor Whalers, Southampton Breakers, Westhampton Aviators, and North Fork Ospreys, to show everyone in the pregame warm-ups the way baseball should be played.”