Sea Change in Game?

The Artists took the lead in the post-modern era, breaking a 12-12-1 tie in games played as benefits since 1988
Things went to smash for the Writers this year. That’s Richard Wiese of ABC-TV’s “Born to Explore” connecting with a turnip posing as a softball in the second inning. Dell Cullum

Not since the Armory Show has anything been quite so shocking as the Artists’ 15-8 (some said 14-8) win over the Writers in Saturday’s 66th Artists and Writers Softball Game.

“O wonder! / How many goodly extra-base hits were there! / How beauteous the Artists’ lineup was! / O, brave new world. . . .”

Which is to say spectators that day may have been witnessing history, “a sea change / Into something rich and strange” insofar as this annual agon is concerned: By winning in such convincing fashion the Artists took the lead in the post-modern era, breaking a 12-12-1 tie in games played as benefits since 1988, and put on quite an exhibition in doing so.

By the end of three and a half innings the writing was on the wall, an eight-run outburst in the top of the fourth serving to ring the Writers’ knell.

The Artists trailed 5-2 going into the top of the fourth, John Longmire’s two-run double in the top of the third having been erased by three Writer runs in the bottom half to go with the two they’d scored in the second.

Eddie McCarthy, batting sixth in the Palletteers’ lineup, began the Artists’ breakthrough fourth with a single up the middle. Katrina Foster, the Writers’ second baseman at the time, then bobbled a grounder hit toward the bag by Dennis Lawrence, allowing McCarthy to pull into second safely, after which Mort Zuckerman walked Peter Borish on a 3-2 pitch, and Joe Sopiak, who was to be the winning pitcher, lofted a bases-loaded sac fly to left.

The 10th batter, Alexson Roy, lined a hit into the outfield that resulted in two more runs crossing the plate as Mark Green, the Writers’ catcher, searched in vain for the relayed ball. That brought up the leadoff man, Eric Ernst, whose comebacker to the mound was bobbled by Zuckerman, which put runners at the corners for Billy Strong.

Strong stroked a grounder toward the Writers’ ordinarily sure-handed shortstop, David Baer, who couldn’t find the handle. That error allowed Roy to score the go-ahead run and Ernst and Strong to move up to third and second, after which Richard Sullivan, a slugger from Louisville (who was later to be named The Game’s most valuable player), drove in Ernst, and Longmire, the Artists’ cleanup hitter, drove in Strong, for 8-5.

Sullivan was thrown out (barely) trying to advance from first to third on Longmire’s hit, but the Artists weren’t through: Russell Blue, with two outs, doubled in Longmire from second, for 9-5, and somehow made it to third, avoiding the third baseman Brett Shevack’s tag. That brought up McCarthy for the second time in the inning. His triple made it 10-5, after which Jeff Meizlik ended the frame by grounding out short-to-first.

There was some question thereafter as to whether the Artists had scored seven or eight runs in that inning, though it is interesting to note that discussions concerning how badly the Writers were routed in the end would never have been held in days of yore.

Harry Javer came on in relief of Zuckerman as the sixth began, yielding two more runs to the Artists — on sac flies by John Patricof and Meizlik. The Writers made it 12-7 in the bottom half, the big blow being the former Yankee Jim Leyritz’s two-run homer to the base of the tennis courts’ fence.

The 27-year-old Sullivan, who it was later learned had been a Double-A pitcher in the Atlanta Braves’ organization, effectively etched his name into the record books with a three-run homer in the seventh — giving him five runs batted in for the day.

The Writers got one back in their eighth on a Leyritz opposite-field double to right that scored Jay DiPietro from second.

And that was all she wrote.

Richard Sullivan, a Louisville slugger who drove in five runs for the Artists, was The Game’s most valuable player. Durell Godfrey