Artists, writers square off for Hamptons softball

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You don't need to know who won the Artists and Writers softball game in East Hampton Saturday - most of the players don't even know.

You do need to know that Alec Baldwin lodged a protest on behalf of the Artists team. "I want the game to start earlier, but the writers want to play in the afternoon because they like to drink when they're done," he said.

Playing under hot sun and skies the color of faded blue jeans, the celebrities and semicelebrities attracted a crowd of several hundred onlookers and softball fans. Thanks to $10 ticket sales, concessions and donations, the 61st anniversary game also raised tens of thousands of dollars for three local charities: East Hampton Day Care Learning Center, Phoenix House and East End Hospice.

"It's become more than an event. It's become a tradition," said sports writer Bert Sugar, who volunteers as the announcer. It's been good for his career, too. Next week, he will fly to New Orleans to play a sports announcer in an Ernest Borgnine movie because someone heard his throaty voice over loudspeakers in the Hamptons.

Well, OK - here's the result: The writers won 12-11, giving them an 11-10 edge with one tie over the last 22 years.

Of course, the definition of "artists" and "writers" has stretched over the 61 years to include politicians, police chiefs and professional athletes.

Rumors are as important to the Hamptons as bottled water, so it's best to deal with them. No, former Jets quarterback Boomer Esiason didn't stop by to play for the Writers. No, Billy Joel and Jerry Seinfeld didn't show up. And one of the stalwarts, Chevy Chase, was away making a movie, friends said.

Saturday's umpires included Ben Bradlee, the famous former Washington Post editor. When he walked onto the field, he was greeted with a kiss by his former star reporter, Carl Bernstein.

Bernstein noted that he first played in the charity game in 1976, when George Plimpton was a regular. Asked how the game had changed, he said, "More of us are grayer and balder."

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