The Artists defeated the Writers 8-6 in the 65th Artists and Writers Softball Game played at East Hampton’s Herrick Park Saturday, thus evening the series in the post-modern era at 12-12-1.
Though the big news was that the Game, the work of whose participants over the years was featured in a Guild Hall show earlier this summer, raised an unprecedented $150,000 for its beneficiaries — the East Hampton Day Care Learning Center, the Retreat, the Phoenix House Adolescent Center in Wainscott, and East End Hospice.
Leif Hope, the Game’s impresario, and the 2013 Game’s co-organizer, Deb McEneaney, were heartily applauded after that announcement was made at the post-Game party at Race Lane, a gathering that numbered many members of the Writers’ team, who in years past would habitually slink off to lick their wounds if they lost.
While the Scribes still hold a solid 26-19-1 lead since the Game began to be played as a benefit in the late 1960s, it’s been hard to tell the winners from the losers in the past quarter-century, a span during which the quality of play has at times been outrageously outstanding.
“The Artists never would have made a catch like that in the past,” Matthew Montemaro was told by a veteran observer after Montemaro had, head over heels, robbed Lee Minetree of a single in shallow right-center to record the second out in the bottom of the ninth inning. “We call him the ghost,” said a teammate, Stu Sleppin.
Then, no sooner than you could say, “Why, with that name, doesn’t he play for the Artists?” Bill Collage popped out to third to end the game.
Jamie Patricof, a first-timer who in the top of the sixth homered deep to left for the Artists after having waved futilely at Mike Lupica’s first offering, was named the most valuable player.
The stunning two-run clout, which also plated Eddie McCarthy, who had drawn a leadoff walk, broke a 5-5 tie and thus gave the Artists the lead for good.
Patricof also came up big defensively, gathering in a long opposite-field fly off the bat of Jim Leyritz, of the 1996 and ’99 World Series-champion New York Yankees, in the bottom of the eighth.
Afterward, when asked if he were an artist (Hope has frequently been accused of using ringers in the past), Patricof, a film and television producer, answered in the affirmative.
“And you weigh . . . 200 and . . . ?”
“Two hundred and . . . too much,” he said, with a smile, adding, after having been embraced by Hope, that it had been a pleasure finally to break into the Artists’ lineup. “I got to coach a few years ago,” he said.
Jeffrey Meizlik, who burned the Writers’ drawn-in center fielder with a two-run double over his head in the fourth that treated the Paletteers to a 4-2 lead, proposed that David Baer, a former Star intern who is now a segment coordinator on Rachael Ray’s food and talk show on TV, should be the M.V.P., given his two-home-run, three-r.b.i. performance for the Writers, but the honor customarily goes to a player on the winning team. Besides, Baer was the M.V.P. in 2011, when the Writers won 17-12.
Mort Zuckerman started on the mound for the Writers, but it was said he did so despite a cracked rib, which wasn’t helped by the fact that a line drive off the bat of Eric Ernst in the top of the fifth dealt him a glancing blow. Lupica replaced Zuckerman on the mound in the sixth.
Leyritz, a crowd favorite — as were former President Bill Clinton, whose arrival in the bottom of the second stopped everything for about 15 minutes, and U.S. Senator Al Franken, who worked both sidelines in the bottom of the eighth — was fed the traditional turnip, which he pulverized in the bottom of the fifth before his towering sacrifice fly was caught at the base of the left field fence.
Baer followed with the aforementioned two-run homer that tied the score at 5-5. Benito Vila then reached first base safely on an error, but Ernst’s over-the-shoulder grab of a fly by Rich Wiese, the Writers’ cleanup hitter, ended the inning, with Patricof’s two-run homer in the top of the sixth and a scorching r.b.i. double down the first-base line by Peter Borishin in the top of the seventh yet to come.
At the party, Hope said “the real winner” that day had been Staff Sgt. Timothy Brown of the Marine Corps, a triple amputee owing to wounds suffered in Afghanistan who had made the trip up from Bethesda, Md., to throw out the Game’s first ball to New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.
Hope said Sergeant Brown was an inspiration.
Lupica said, in turn, that Hope’s spirit was the reason why he and his fellow writers and artists kept coming back year after year.