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For Celebrities, Charity Begins on the Ball Field

March 14, 1987|STEVE HENSON

What does a fishing competition in the Bahamas have in common with a softball game at Birmingham High?

Celebrities . . . and David Mirisch.

Mirisch, president of a Beverly Hills-based international promotional firm, produces celebrity sports events for charity and nonprofit organizations. He has more than 1,000 celebrities on file who compete in a wide variety of sports.

"The day of the black-tie fund-raiser is over," Mirisch said. "Celebrities love sports competition. They'd rather play tennis or basketball. The concept is working well all over the United States."

Celebrities are paid nothing, Mirisch said, to participate in his promotions, which vary from basketball and bowling to rafting.

Nearly $4 million has been raised for charity during his past 250 events, said Mirisch, who has 35 events scheduled this year.

Celebrity bowling will be held at the Bowlerland Lanes in Van Nuys on March 29 to raise funds for the National Jewish Center for Immunology and Respiratory Medicine. Celebrity basketball will be played at Thousand Oaks High on April 8 to raise funds for the Conejo Youth Basketball Assn. Celebrity softball will be played at Birmingham High on June 6 for the Foundation for the Homeless.

Entertainer Pat Boone and professional athletes Steve Yeager and Johnnie Johnson are among the celebrities playing basketball, which was Mirisch's first promotion in 1978. That team included former Dodgers Steve Garvey, Ron Cey, Tommy John, Rick Rhoden and Jimmy Wynn.

"Then Walter O'Malley realized he had three 20-game winners fighting for rebounds and began putting no-basketball clauses in contracts," Mirisch said.

No owners have gotten around to forbidding fishing competition, however.

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