With two World Series championships and the World Baseball Classic all coming through San Francisco over the past few years, The City has quickly become a major hub in the baseball universe. Dante Benedetti would be proud.
The former USF baseball coach — who died in 2005 — dedicated his life to promoting baseball in San Francisco, and for the ninth year in a row, USF will play the annual Dante Benedetti Classic at AT&T Park on Saturday.
The event benefits the Dante Benedetti Foundation, which has carried on a legacy that started when Benedetti played baseball as a kid alongside future legend Joe DiMaggio.
For the USF players, the game offers a rare opportunity to play in a park that is considered by many to be among the best in the game.
“Any time they get a chance to play where the world champions play, it’s a pretty neat feeling,” coach Nino Giarratano said. “They’ve watched a lot of really incredible games. I don’t know how nervous they get anymore, they are pretty good competitors, but they do get excited.”
While Giarratano said he did not know Benedetti well, he has been involved with the foundation, which he said will be instrumental in helping USF get a new baseball field and giving the team a chance to stay competitive.
The two will be linked in the history books for some time, however, as Giarratano last year passed Benedetti in the all-time wins column to set the USF record.
“Benedetti was such a wonderful man,” he said. “It just has meant a great deal to be mentioned in the same park with him. What he did for the community and what he did for kids and what he did for baseball in San Francisco, and for my name to be close to that, it’s something to be proud of.”
USF will host University of Portland over the weekend, with Saturday’s game at AT&T Park scheduled for a 3:30 p.m. start time. Tickets are available at usfdons.com.
The annual Bruce-Mahoney game between Sacred Heart Catehdral and St. Ignatius will preceed the USF game at noon.