HITMAN

(GH mobster Maurice Benard goes to bat for charity in hometown celebrity softball game)

*July 30th edition of Soap Opera Magazine*

Maurice Benard exudes powerful emotions each weekday afternoon in his Emmy-nominated GH role of mob chief Sonny Corinthos, but that's nothing compared to the power he brings to the ballpark.

The popular actor recently teamed up with several primetime television, music and sports stars for a celebrity softball game at the Oakland Coliseum to raise funds for two Bay Area charities--Waldon House and the Omega Boys and Girls Club.

"It was my first time on a major league field, so I was really excited," says the actor, who was doubly thrilled since he grew up in the San Francisco and Oakland areas. "But it didn't take me too long for me to realize I didn't have a chance of hitting the ball over the wall."

Maurice and his wife Paula "made the road trip," he jokes, with their 21-month-old-daughter Cailey. The two women in his life joined him on the field before the game, while he did his loosening-up excercises.

Cailey had a great time running laps in the outfield with her proud dad and several Oaklans A's players who showed up early to check out the celebrity game.

In the game itself, Maurice smacked a base hit, and subsequently got knocked home, scoring an important run. He also took time to sign autographs for fans. "I was happy to be there," he reports. "I think a lot of baseball fans are also soap opera fans."

And many major league players watch the soaps, he points out, and were very friendly--"especially Ernie Young of the A's, he was very cool." Maurice even invited GH fan Young to visit Port Charles the next time the A's play in Los Angeles.

Softball is nothing new to Maurice. Nearly every weekend, he and Paula join GH co-stars Ron Hale(Mike), Jonathan Jackson(Lucky) and several friends at a baseball field near his Hollywood-area home for a fun game with an L.A. area youth group H.O.L.A. "I love to get involved in whatever game I'm playing--and I love baseball, " he declares.