One year after quickly moving to organize a California Strong Celebrity Softball Game at Pepperdine University, professional athletes and celebrities were back at Eddy D. Field Baseball Stadium under different circumstances but with the same goal.
Founders of California Strong, Milwaukee Brewers teammates Christian Yelich and Ryan Braun, Cincinnati Reds infielder Mike Moustakas and Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff, tapped into their friendships and networks to assemble rosters with filled with Hollywood star power.
The L.A. Dodgers were represented by Cody Bellinger and Joc Pederson, with the teammates broken up on Team Yelich and Team Braun. “It’s cool to be a part of,” Bellinger said.
He’s developed a friendship with Yelich over the past year and also grown closer to Braun. The three were often together in the days leading up to the event; Yelich revealed he’d been hosting Bellinger at his home.
For Pederson, showing his support for ongoing efforts to provide for those in need was important. “It’s an awesome event they’re putting on,” he told DodgerBlue.com. “Being from California, there’s so many people affected by devastating fires. It’s huge to raise money and awareness.”
The inaugural California Strong event was held in the aftermath of the mass shooting at Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, and wildfires that destroyed or threatened thousands of homes.
Hills surrounding Pepperdine University and in local communities that had burned are green again — but the memory and keen awareness of the standing threat of wildfires remains on the minds of all involved.
— Dodger Blue (@DodgerBlue1958) January 12, 2020
“Those (tragic) events get a lot of attention in the immediate aftermath and a year out, it kind of fades to the back of the news cycle but people are still left to deal with it,” Yelich said. “We wanted to let them know we’re here and still care about them.”
California Strong has raised over $3 million in funds used to assist Californias that have been victims of the aforementioned disasters. Prior to first pitch on Sunday, checks were presented to two families that experienced loss in wildfires, and the owner of Borderline Bar and Grill.
As for the game, Team Braun routed Team Yelich, 12-4. Actor Christopher Backus hit the first home run in a California Strong Celebrity Softball Game, later went deep a second time, and earned MVP honors.
Pederson also hit a homer for Team Braun, clubbing a two-run shot. Bellinger went 2-for-2 with a pair of singles. “I think we’re both going to try and go yard,” Bellinger told DodgerBlue.com on the red carpet. “That’s for sure.”
We'll have a full recap and video of interviews with @Cody_Bellinger and @yungjoc650 up tomorrow, but for now enjoy these photos @ajlising took from the 2nd annual @CAstrongfund Celebrity Softball Game. pic.twitter.com/UFhJlHgu7V
— Dodger Blue (@DodgerBlue1958) January 13, 2020
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in our live shows, and more!