EAST HAMPTON, N.Y. – Its roster of past participants is impressive: former President Bill Clinton, Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, three Baldwins, Dustin Hoffman, Paul Simon, Jackson Pollock and Kurt Vonnegut, to name just a few.

Organizers of the annual East Hampton Artists & Writers Softball Games are a little fuzzy about when they got their start – most peg it to around 1948, when artists including Pollock, Willem de Kooning and others organized casual pickup games on summer afternoons in their yards. Today they have become one of the premier events in the Hamptons, New York’s summer resort for the haves and have mores.

“I’ve played against some of the greatest house painters in the world,” joked reporter Carl Bernstein, making a common, good-natured accusation that his opponents pepper their rosters with “ringers” to gain a competitive advantage.

This year’s game, billed as the 65th and set for Aug. 17, is expected to draw thousands to watch writers such as Bernstein, Richard Reeves and Mike Lupica play artists including Domingo Zapata and Eric Ernst and actors Josh Charles, Lori Singer and others. With the support of corporate sponsors and deep-pocketed donors, the game is expected to raise $100,000 for eastern Long Island charities.

“Like professional wrestlers, we pretend we want to kill our opponent,” said author Ken Auletta, the longtime captain of the writer’s team. “We mock how the other side cheats. We act like winning is all that matters. Winning does matter. But so does the camaraderie forged over many games and many after-game beers.

“And most of all, so does the money we raise at the game for needy local charities.”

To commemorate the 65th anniversary, organizers last month held an art exhibition at East Hampton’s Guild Hall.The Associated Press

Participants on July 21 discuss the upcoming East Hampton Artists & Writers Softball Game that benefits Long Island charities, in East Hampton, N.Y. From left are: Mort Zuckerman, Julet Papa, Fred Graver and Carl Bernstein.


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