Active Duty Service Members, Veterans Step Into Dodgers Star Justin Turner’s Shoes By Taking Batting Practice At Dodger Stadium At Special Event

Many people have been to a Los Angeles Dodgers game at Dodger Stadium or watched one on television, few have stepped into the batter’s box and gotten the chance to see how big the field actually is when you’re on it.

That changed for 400 pre-selected active duty service members and veterans from the U.S. Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard and their families, when they were hosted by Justin Turner and the Dodgers for batting practice and activities for a special event to celebrate Veteran’s Day.

Helping out and working with veterans has become a passion of Turner’s over the years. He partnered with the Dream Center through the Justin Turner Foundation to open up a Veterans Home to help give assistance to those making the difficult transition back into civilian life.

“Being Veterans Day, having a chance to give a little bit of time and say thank you and come out and spend some time with the men and the women that sacrifice their lives, their family, their time to go and defend our country, is a no-brainer for me,” Turner said at the event.

“I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else and on top of that, one of the main purposes of our foundation is a homeless veterans center, so getting girls and guys out today to participate was great. It’s just all-around a great event and again, the Dodgers are doing a great job of honoring our military men and women and opening up the field for them and putting this one and inviting me to be a part of it is pretty special.”

One of the veterans that was present, Temecula, Calif., resident Dan Nava, who served in the Coast Guard, was appreciative of Turner and the Dodgers for putting on the event.

“It’s amazing. How the Dodgers put this on for the veterans and to open this place up to us to bring our family members and kids to be able to enjoy it, is awesome,” he said. “It’s huge. Very happy and thankful that they do that for us as veterans.”

The Dodgers honor a veteran during the second inning of every home game at Dodger Stadium, and if he is not up to bat, Turner always goes and shakes his or her hand and gives them a signed ball.

“I think it’s just a few moments of our day to make sure we stop and thank them for what they’re doing and recognize them and I think the Dodgers do an outstanding job every night of recognizing our military and our heroes and people who serve our country,” Turner explained.

“I just try to add on a little bit to it. From a baseball side of it, if we had some bigger first innings this year then I probably wouldn’t have gotten the opportunity to shake their hand. But yeah, it’s something I started doing a few years back as a very, very small token of my appreciation.”

Veterans and their families who attended Monday’s event not only had a chance to take batting practice on the field but they also were able to meet and pose with Turner for a photo, take a tour of Chavez Ravine and get hitting and pitching lessons from Ron Cey, Steve Yeager and Dennis Powell.

The event is an annual one that Turner and his wife Kourtney plan to keep being involved with for years to come. While many players throughout the league are heavily involved in their respective communities, not many take it to the level that Turner does and that is one of the many reasons Los Angeles is lucky to have him both on and off the field.

“I consider myself extremely lucky to be here, be where I’m at. To have this platform, to understand the platform that we’re given, not just myself but everyone,” Turner emphasized.

“If you play in the Major Leagues, you’re seen all the time through social media, on the field, on TV, I think it’s a duty to find a way to get involved somehow. It doesn’t have to be with fire relief or disaster relief or homeless veterans but just finding your little niche to get out in the community and find a way to have an impact on someone else who is less fortunate than we are to be playing Major League Baseball.”