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Laughs and baseball at the Festival of Books

April 25, 2010 |  9:04 am


Only the following statement would be funny to baseball fans: “Barry Bonds took steroids, but so did Marvin Benard.” That is exactly why the audience of mostly baseball fans laughed when Dan Fost said it at the panel titled “Baseball: Take Me Out to the Ballgame” on Saturday at the Festival of Books.

(For those who are clueless: Bonds is the all-time home run champ with 762 and Benard had just 54 career home runs. Both took steroids, but clearly Bonds had some talent, too.)

Immediately after, Mark Frost rode the wave of laughter when he chimed in: “Imagine him without them,” referring to Benard, the former outfielder whose career statistics paled in comparison to Bonds.

Joining Fost, author of “Giants Past & Present,” and Frost, author of “Game Six,” was Michael D’Antonio, author of “Forever Blue,” and moderator Bruce Bauman. The four men provided a stadium-like atmosphere with tales from their book-writing process.

The tone was set during their introductions when Bauman announced he was a Yankees fan -- and received some jovial boos from the audience packed with Dodgers fans. The audience followed suit with some mock boos for Fost who was wearing a Giants hat and shirt. The one person who didn’t receive any boos was, of course, D’Antonio, whose book is about one of the most disliked men in Dodgers history: Walter O’Malley.

Their passion for the sport was exemplified when Bauman told the infamous baseball joke that he and Frost discussed prior to the panel. “If Hitler, Stalin, and O’Malley are in a room and you have two bullets who do you shoot? The answer, of course, is “O’Malley, twice.”

The men talked about interviewing some of the players. The three authors knew the subject matter so well that they often told players details about their teams or themselves that they didn’t know. Fost recounted meeting legendary Giants player Willie McCovey and was shocked to learn McCovey didn’t know the Giants hadn’t won a World Series since moving to San Francisco. Frost talked about telling Bernie Carbo that he batted one more time after hitting a game-tying home run in the eighth inning of Game 6 of the 1975 World Series.

During the short question-and-answer period, the most popular questions revolved around controversial figures. The first man to step to the microphone asked Frost if he believed Pete Rose should be allowed into the Hall of Fame. As soon as the question was asked, the man in line behind him immediately sat down because he had the same query.

-- Joshua Sandoval

Sandoval is a television producer, most recently on “Latino 101.”

Photo: From left, Mark Frost, Dan Fost, Michael DAntonio and moderator Bruce Bauman talk about their favorite topic.