California Strong Celebrity Softball Game: Justin Turner Joins Ryan Braun, Christian Yelich, Mike Moustakas And Other Athletes & Celebrities In Providing For Community
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Tragedy rocked Thousand Oaks last November when a mass shooting took place at Borderline Bar and Grill. One night later, before citizens could begin to cope with the horrific event, wildfires broke out in the surrounding communities.

The Woolsey fire burned over 95,000 acres and damaged more than 1,600 structures. The Hill fire claimed another 4,500 acres, and up north the Camp fire caused more catastrophic damage.

With the communities still recovering and piecing their lives back together, Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff, Milwaukee Brewers teammates last season Ryan Braun, Mike Moustakas and Christian Yelich came together and formed California Strong.

In partnership with the YMCA of Southeast Ventura County, the charity hosted a Celebrity Softball Game at Pepperdine University, with all proceeds benefitting the victims of the California wildfires and Borderline Bar and Grill shooting. It struck particularly close to home for Southern California natives Braun, Moustakas and Yelich.

“It was tough. Obviously, it started with the shooting and that’s sad in itself. Then to be followed with the fires, it was devastating,” said Yelich, who was among those evacuated a week before being named National League MVP.

“It was a tough time in this community. Fortunately, we were able to make it out alright but some of the others weren’t. We’re fortunate enough to be in a position to help people out, and we wanted to do good. We didn’t know California Strong would become what it is today. It’s been exciting to see the support and it really makes you feel good that in times of need, the community can rally together.”

The event was attended by Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner, and Hollywood heavyweights Adam Sandler, Charlie Sheen and Rob Riggle, among others. The game was held at Eddy D. Field Stadium on Pepperdine’s campus and played in front of a sold-out crowd.

Behind the fence in left field was a scenic view of the Pacific Ocean, while charred hills behind home plate and off the first-base line served as a somber reminder of damage caused by the fires.

California Strong raised $500,000 heading into the celebrity game, and were closing in on their goal of $1 million as it wound to a close. “That’s been the greatest thing we’ve taken from this experience, is the way the community has rallied together,” Braun said.

“The support we’ve received for the campaign has been incredible. From other athletes, celebrities, local businesses. It’s been incredible.”

Turner played his usual third base and recorded the final two outs of the game to wrap up a win for Team California. “It’s really hard to have words to see all the people who are out here supporting,” told DodgerBlue.com. “I’ve done some events over the last four or five years myself, and trying to get guys to commit to coming out to that with a lot of notice is pretty difficult.

“I think that just speaks to the people, the community, the situation, the impact that the fires and shooting has had on peoples’ lives. Everyone wants to come out here and help raise as much money as possible to get people back on their feet.”

With their first event in the books, California Strong intends to host an annual game moving forward. And while Braun is among those who has received deserved praise for helping arrange the inaugural game, he was certain to acknowledge contributions by the YMCA.

“We actually talked about trying to do the whole thing ourselves from the beginning (but) recognized we were complete overwhelmed,” Braun said. “They’ve been instrumental in our success and helping bring credibility to our campaign. We’re incredibly fortunate and thankful for their help.”