San Francisco native duo play professional baseball in Ohio
September 30, 2021
Around 18 years ago, Shawon Dunston Jr. and Isaac Benard were batboys for the Giants. Now, the two life-long friends play professional baseball together and dream of playing in the MLB.
Over the summer, two San Francisco natives were almost 2,500 miles away playing baseball in Avon, Ohio. The duo played for the Lake Erie Crushers, an independent team that is a part of the Frontier League, with teams located in the Northeast and Midwest regions of the U.S. and eastern Canada.
Although the pair have known each other for most of their lives, this is the first time they have played baseball professionally together.
Shawon Dunston Jr. and Isaac Benard have been around baseball their whole lives and have known each other for most of them as well. Their fathers, Shawon Dunston and Marvin Benard, played together with the San Francisco Giants for four seasons.
“I’ve known Isaac probably since I was eight,” Dunston Jr. said. “Both our dads played together with the Giants, many, many years ago and that’s how we met.” One year when both of their dads played for the Giants Benard and Dunston Jr. were bat boys for the team.
Dunston Jr. was introduced to baseball at a very young age. He spent a lot of time with his dad in the clubhouse and watched him play, which led to his love for the sport. The Chicago Cubs drafted him right out of high school, but uses a San Francisco Giants bag as homage to his dad.
Benard has been around baseball his whole life. He watched his dad play in the MLB and has played baseball for as long as he can remember. “I think my favorite part about playing is just being around my friends basically all the time,” Benard said.
Benard is currently on the Lake Erie Crushers Injured List which makes him unable to play. “I can’t go out and do anything, I can’t run, not being able to play sucks,” he said. “I just sit there and watch and obviously I want to be out there, I want to play.” To keep himself loose and stretched out, he works on his fielding and hitting during pregame batting practice.
Dunston Jr. is one of the fastest on the team, which allowed him to steal 37 bases through the season. “[I like] every part honestly: hitting, stealing bases, playing defense, like even fans in the stands, doing something I enjoy doing.” he said. “Doing something I’m good at brings me joy.”
Sundays at Mercy Health Stadium are an opportunity for fans to get the team to sign their baseballs, jerseys, hats and other belongings. “I love seeing a smile on their face or like give them a ball or they wave to you and say hi, kind of keeps me calm like by seeing them say hi to me,” Dunston Jr. said.
Throughout the season, the Crushers have done jersey auctions for the specialty jerseys worn. “I try to be nice to everybody and interact with them if I can,” Benard said. “Or sign something for them.” The winners of the auctions are able to come out onto the field, where the players can sign their jersey. Benard was able to stand and talk to the couple who won his jersey for a few minutes before having to leave.