"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Going, Going…


My first job right out of college was as a production assistant on Ken Burns’ “Baseball” documentary.  The gig lasted about five months and when it was over I couldn’t find another paying job in the movie business so I spent most of the summer in central park watching softball. I pretended to look for work but really I hid out in the park instead.  I was a regular goldbricker, but was not alone.  I discovered a group of regulars who would hang around the great lawn and watch games all afternoon.  Fat guys with red bellies who would rotate around the fields to stay in the sun.  A skinny black dude, Smokey, used to sell Snapple, water, soda and beer.  I’d follow an animated umpire named Butch and watch all of his games.

My favorite league was the Press League (This may be the same league that our man Cliff later played in when he was with Viking).  The games just had more juice than the Broadway League.  The New York Times had a wonderful second baseman at the time, an older woman who wore braces on both knees.  She was a fluid fielder, the kind of person you just wanted to talk baseball with.  The kind of person you’d be honored to have a catch with.

I thought about her a few days ago when I read this piece about the Press League in the City Section of the Sunday Times:

Each spring for at least three decades, starting in late April or early May, media softball with all its pranks and rivalries returns to the diamonds of Central Park. The undertaking involves dozens of players, largely in their 20s, 30s and 40s.

And this season, coming as it does on the heels of possibly the worst year in memory for the publishing industry, the idea of repairing from the office to the green of the park seems especially appealing.

Over the past year, caught between an ailing economy and the struggle of print publications in an increasingly digital age, one after another title has trimmed its sails, migrated to the Web or closed up shop entirely. The shock has been felt especially in New York, home to so many publications and to so many who read them or work for them. And the body count continues to rise, with the attendant impact on the softball season.

February brought the folding of Trader Monthly, a magazine for the financial community, whose team planned to play this year. On April 30, Condé Nast announced the closing of Portfolio, its glossy business monthly, laying off more than 80 people. It had planned to play the New Yorker on June 16.

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1 Cliff Corcoran   ~  May 12, 2009 3:17 pm

When I played for Penguin (Viking is part of Penguin Inc.), the other teams included the New York Times, Village Voice, Time, and Random House (among others), so it very well may have been the same league. Man, I sure do miss that, but I was glad I got to do it. There's little better than softball in Central Park on a beautiful summer day.

2 SteveAmerica   ~  May 12, 2009 3:39 pm

gone! now i dialed 9-1-1 a long time ago.

3 Mattpat11   ~  May 12, 2009 4:02 pm

Yankees have the "Facing Halladay so why bother?" lineup tonight. Gardner and Cash.

4 ny2ca2dc   ~  May 12, 2009 5:09 pm

Oh crap, Jeter is scratched, Petey says due to an oblique pull. Wonderful.

This is truly ugly:
Gardner CF
Damon LF
Teixeira 1B
Rodriguez 3B
Matsui DH
Cano 2B
Cabrera RF
Cash C
Pena SS

AJ better be ON. Maybe Melky can get another wall scraper against Doc.

5 weeping for brunnhilde   ~  May 12, 2009 5:26 pm

[4] Oh, you're fucking kidding me.

When will this madness end?

And why in the motherfuck is Gardner leading off? Shouldn't Cano be moved up? Damn.

Tex better start hitting.

6 Mattpat11   ~  May 12, 2009 5:39 pm

I really don't like watching Brett Gardner play baseball. I can accept it as a bench player and bottom of the order hitter.

Watching him strikeout looking on three pitches in the leadoff spot does not follow that formula.

7 The Hawk   ~  May 12, 2009 5:51 pm

I despise watching Gardner. I also despise softball but this isn't the place to discuss that ...

8 ny2ca2dc   ~  May 12, 2009 6:03 pm

[6] The passivity at the plate is what's galling.

I can't think of another "hitter" that is so utterly passive. I love love love selective hitters, but Brett is of a totally different sort than Abreu or Swisher or Giambi or something. That said I think his true hitting talent level is closer to slightly above replacement, as opposed to his now slightly above Billy Crystal. At least Billy merited some balls and fouled a pitch off!

9 PJ   ~  May 12, 2009 6:05 pm

[8] Matsui is the "Designated Hebrew" tonight?

: )

10 Raf   ~  May 12, 2009 6:09 pm

Did I miss something? Is Swisher hurt?

11 standuptriple   ~  May 12, 2009 6:09 pm

Can this team please just get healthy?

12 PJ   ~  May 12, 2009 6:15 pm

[10] Swisher versus Halladay

.167, .231, .333, .564

2-12 with 2 durbles...

13 Raf   ~  May 12, 2009 6:23 pm

[12] Regardless, I'd rather have him in there than Gardner...

Anyway, Melky vs Halladay
.231 .231 .346 .577
6-26 with a HR

Gardner vs. Halladay
.429 .500 .571 1.071
3-7 with a double

This smacks of Torre batting Enrique Wilson leadoff because he "pwn3d" Pedro...

14 PJ   ~  May 12, 2009 6:26 pm

[13] Jeter versus Halladay

.241, .302, .291, .593

19-79 with 4 durbles...

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver