For a good time, call Dial Giants Trivia, from the fine folks who bring you the Dial Jeane Dixon Horoscopes. The call offers not only a test of baseball knowledge but also the chance to win two tickets to a game at Candlestick Park. At 55¢ per call for California residents (more for out-of-state calls), it's the best entertainment bargain since RCA put Elvis Presley's Don't Be Cruel on the flip side of Hound Dog.
When you call—the number is available from directory assistance—you first hear a foghorn, a nice local touch. An organ plays the first six notes of The Star-Spangled Banner, and the game is on. Three questions equal three at bats; three "hits" win two tickets.
The first question is true/false. Did Joe, Dom and Vince DiMaggio share the same middle name? After the caller punches number one for true or two for false, a recording will say something like, "Line drive, clean single to left!" or "You're out! You swung at a bad pitch!"
An out brings another true/false question. If you singled, you move to a multiple choice. Of Bobo Newsom, Jim Bunning, Fergie Jenkins and Gaylord Perry, which one did not win 100 games in each league? Punch one, two, three or four. Another hit gets you a fill-in-the-blank: Ron Swoboda's batting average in the 1969 World Series. Punch in the numbers. At the end of the call, you're given a scouting report on your prowess, e.g., "Only 42 percent of today's callers have gone 2 for 3 against the Giants."
Bay Area sports trivia master Bud Foster wrote more than 300 questions for each category. They can be shuffled into roughly 30 million combinations, so the odds against getting the same three questions are heavy. About 2,000 calls a day come in on 48 lines, which, by the way, are very busy at 1 a.m.
Winners are running at about 3%, including callers from as far away as New York City and Chicago. Two warnings: To play, you must call on a Touch Tone phone, and it can be addictive. And just imagine how stupid you'll feel arguing with a phone.