By Jennifer Glickel
CENTRAL PARK — The staff of Vanity Fair showed their rivals at the New Yorker that they are the far superior Condé Nast publication on Tuesday evening — on the softball field, that is.
The game was part of a decades-old tradition of media softball in which writers, cartoonists, editors, and the like from a variety of publications take the diamond in Central Park to play out longstanding rivalries. Tuesday night's match up, which ended in the Vanity Fair Veefers' favor by a margin of 18-3, brought two teams out that have a decade-long rivarly between them.
"It all started in 1998 when I got a call from Matt Dellinger, back when he ran the New Yorker's website, asking if we wanted to play softball against them," said Vanity Fair executive online editor and former softball team captain Mike Hogan.
On a "ridiculously hot day" the two magazines faced one another and Vanity Fair's softball hopes seemed to be sunk within minutes when the New Yorker scored nine runs in the first inning, according to Hogan. Not wanting to lose to "those literary types" at the New Yorker, VF managed to come back and score nine runs of their own during the game. But ultimately, the literary folk won, 10-9.
The following day, the New York Post ran a story on Page Six about Vanity Fair's defeat, which, Hogan said, was the motivation for the friendly rivalry that the Veefers have felt ever since.
"This rivalry is more like we don't feel good unless we beat them since that original sin with the Post article 12 years ago," Hogan told DNAinfo.
Surprisingly, a less friendly rivalry exists between marijuana themed magazine High Times and virtually all the other teams that play.
"You'd think High Times would have the laziest players considering what they write about, but they're really the most into it," said New Yorker team captain and A-issue editor Silvia Killingsworth.
"High Times brings an ump and their game face," she said.
The folks at the New Yorker seem to have little regard for the rivalry that the Veefers feel exists.
"We don't consider ourselves to be special rivals with them," Killingsworth said. "I guess they feel that way, but it's all really friendly."
Hogan agreed that, aside from High Times, the culture of media softball is generally laid back.
"There's a lot of type A people on these teams, so there's inherently a bit of competition, but it's still very casual," he said.
Once in a while media hard hitters like New Yorker editor David Remnick or Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter will come out to lend their softball skills to the teams. New Yorker senior editor Hendrik Hertzberg pitched a few innings for the losing team on Tuesday, but couldn't narrow the Veefers' 15-point lead.
"We play some softball, meet people, drink beer — it's all for fun. Most of these people were the ones to be picked last in gym class anyway," Hogan said.
Friendly or not, the Veefers will keep telling themselves that a rivalry exists between them and their sister magazine.
"The New Yorker is the team we're least likely to get into arguments with," said Vanity Fair editorial associate and current team captain Matt Pressman. "They're two floors below us, so we have to play reasonably nice."
"Although that hasn't stopped us from getting into fights with GQ before," Pressman added.
"But they're on a different elevator bank than we are."