Every year, Goldman Sachs hosts a day of Wiffle ball on behalf of DREAM, the Harlem non-profit that runs a charter school and after school programs.
The brainchild of Goldmans’ global co-head of equities trading and execution Brian Levine, it brings together hundreds of employees across the company for a day of fun and camaraderie. Last Friday, Business Insider stopped by the ball fields near Goldman’s NYC office to catch a glimpse of the action and see who would end the day with a year’s worth of bragging rights.
The event is held on a ball field just north of Goldman Sachs’s 200 West Street headquarters in New York.
Here you can see how the field is set up. Team members pitch to each other, and they aim to hit the ball over a series of lines delineated by cones. The opposing team tries to catch the ball, or otherwise stop it.
Employees grouped themselves into 120 teams divided by division. The teams play three games in pool play before advancing into the final single-elimination round of 16. Each team hits for five minutes in each game.
Teams try to distinguish themselves, either through names, uniforms, or other actions. One of the teams only used one hand to swing the bat.
Points are scored by hitting the ball over one of four lines corresponding to singles, doubles, triples and home runs. Homers are worth four points; singles just one. The winning team, Ken Wiffey Jr., went 7-0 and scored what’s thought to be a record 253 points in one of its games. That’s an average of more than 8 points every 10 seconds.
Goldman Sachs partner Brian Levine, seen here in the middle, organizes the event each year.
Here, a Goldman employee practices his catching skills. Former major league ball players Dwight Gooden, Mickey Rivers, and John Flaherty also made an appearance.
Levine’s team, Hittin Bids, didn’t advance into the final round despite this fundamentally sound batting stance. They made the finals last year.
The event is part of fundraising for DREAM, a non-profit that got its start on an East Harlem baseball field. Levine has worked with DREAM for years.
Here’s a view looking across the field to the north.
Goldman raised almost $US3 million for the organisation this year between this event and a gala held at Cipriani 42nd Street last month that honored incoming CEO David Solomon.
“We were joking, and saying if we won it’d be the best day of our careers,” said one Goldman employee. Employees really get into the tournament and everyone is playing to win.
The finals this year came down to a team from operations, Ken Wiffey Jr., and a team from internal audit, the Ballistic Wiffles.
Levine spends some of the day at the event and serves as its unofficial commissioner. He’s already thinking about scoreboards for next year.
Here, a small crowd gathers to watch the final elimination round.
On a ball field nestled among skyscrapers and the West Side highway, Goldman employees enjoyed a day away from the office.
“I look forward to this day all year.” Stephanie Caso, an associate in audit, was on the All Ivy League team in college when she played shortstop for the University of Pennsylvania. Her team, the Ballistic Wiffles, got second place.
Last year’s winner, Goldman Whacks, is seen here congratulating the other team. The group hails from the investment management division.
Goldman Whacks got knocked out in the semifinals this year. The team didn’t have one of its best players for the final game because he was stuck in the office on a conference call that ran long.
“I can’t feel my body right now.” Ricky Comitini, a VP in operations on Ken Wiffey Jr., the winning team, was thrilled to win the competition this year, maybe more than anyone on his team. We told you Goldman employees take this seriously.
The trophy that 120 teams had hopes of winning that morning.
Behold, this year’s winning team. They got this trophy, a trip to the Yankees-Mets game (where they watched from Goldman’s corporate suite), and a whole lot of bragging rights for the next 12 months.
“We offer this field next year to any other bank who wants to take up the challenge.” As the day wound down, Levine said he’s thinking about inviting other banks to play next year. He was only half joking about the challenge.
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