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Insights: Culture

Working hard and playing harder, weekend warriors are often casualties of the game
Harry Hurt III
From the Print Edition:
Raquel Welch, Jul/Aug 01

(continued from page 1)

I've seen my fair share of civilian, though not always civil, weekend warriors because I live in the Hamptons, the summer resort area on the far eastern end of Long Island that is a Mecca for some of the nation's most affluent overuse syndrome sufferers. I have even been counted among them at times by virtue of telltale overuse injuries if not by financial qualification. Two of the more popular sports out here are softball and golf, both of which often incorporate the most popular sport of all, social climbing.

On the third weekend in August, East Hampton hosts an annual Artists & Writers softball game that dates back to the 1960s. Over the years, the star players have included singer/songwriter Paul Simon, actors Alec and Billy Baldwin, real estate/media baron Mort Zuckerman, sportswriter Mike Lupica, television anchorman Peter Jennings and former presidential candidate Eugene McCarthy. Originally an informal pickup game, the event has evolved into a charity fund-raiser complete with play-by-play public address commentary and teams picked according to celebrity status rather than batting or fielding ability.

From the weekend before Memorial Day through the weekend after Labor Day, the village of Sag Harbor is the site of a softball series whose participants recently celebrated their 25th season. Started by the critic Wilfred Sheed and John Leo of U.S. New & World Report, the Sag Harbor game bases participation on seniority, so if you're a newcomer the only game you may end up playing is the waiting game unless a spot opens on one of the rosters due to absenteeism or attrition. A few summers ago, a team of Sag Harbor softballers led by New Yorker writer Ken Auletta played their first road game against a team formed by media mogul Steve Brill. The site was a Field of Dreams softball diamond that Brill built in the backyard of his Westchester County estate. As if to prove their potential as national-class prime-time players, the Sag Harborites also played a game on the outfield grass of Shea Stadium against a team flown in from San Francisco by restaurateur Ed Moose.

While Brill's backyard ballpark is certainly impressive, my nomination for enshrinement in the weekend-warrior hall of fame goes to the late New York real estate developer and avid golfer Ed Gordon. In 1992, after joining the newly opened Atlantic Golf Club in Bridgehampton, Gordon decided to do something creative with the landscape of his summer home across the street. He hired Rees Jones, the architect who designed Atlantic, to build an ultraprivate golfing playground. Known as Three Ponds, it is a full-scale nine-hole course that features double greens similar to those on the Old Course in St. Andrews, Scotland, where the game was born. For my money -- or better yet, someone else's -- the Gordon golf course sure beats the hell out of a paintball park.

Now that summer is here, you can rest assured that the living will be anything but easy in the Hamptons and everywhere else around the country where games are played by and for hotdogs, crackerjacks and beer bellies. But then why rest at all? It's time for all you weekend warriors to get out there and tear your anterior cruciate ligaments (ACLs) hook sliding into second base on a short one-hopper to left the morning after you jammed your fingers playing hard-nosed pickup hoops and wrenched your neck chasing down drop shots on the tennis court. Just remember, it beats busting your butt all week in the office.

 

Harry Hurt III is an editor-at-large for Travel & Leisure Golf.


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