Friday, June 19, 2015

REVIEW/PHOTOS - #CMAFEST2015 CITY OF HOPE CELEBRITY SOFTBALL GAME

EVENT: City of Hope Celebrity Softball Game
VENUE: First Tennessee Park - Nashville, TN
DATE: June 13, 2015

REVIEWER/PHOTOGRAPHER: Jason Evans
Follow Jason on Twitter at @J_EvansPhotos


The 25th anniversary of the City of Hope Celebrity Softball game took place at the brand new First Tennessee Park in Nashville on Saturday, June 13, 2015. The annual charity event takes place every year during country music's CMA Music Festival which draws hundreds of thousands of fans worldwide to the Nashville area. This event directly benefits City of Hope cancer research, as well as diabetic research and other life threatening illnesses which directly impact countless numbers of individuals across the world.

The softball game lineup is usually chock full of country music stars, actors/actresses, athletes and other celebrities that step up to the plate and go to bat for this great benefit. In the past years, the event has hosted celebrities like Brad Paisley, Craig Morgan, Charley Pride, Sara Evans, Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line, Jason Aldean and many many others. This year, the celebrity lineup was split into two teams, Team iHeartRadio and Team Opry.

Team iHeartRadio: 

Angie Johnson • Bobby Bones • Bret Michaels • Doug McCormick • Eddie • Lauren Alaina • Lindsay Ell • Lunchbox • Perrish Cox • Seth Jones • Stephen Barker Liles


Team Opry:

Aaron Watson • Bucky Covington • Charles Esten • Chuck Wicks • Deana Carter • Eric Gunderson • JT Hodges • Phil Vassar • SaraBeth • Stu Grimson • Vince Gill


Note: Little Big Town was originally scheduled to attend, however due to an unforeseen family emergency they were unable to participate this year.

Representing humanity and overall goodwill in this years festivities, Stephen Bess, a Nashville resident and cancer survivor that needed a bone marrow transplant in order to live and beat cancer, and his stem cell donor, Jonas Baade who had a perfect match that would help save Mr Bess' life. A video would play on the jumbo screens depicting this story and the importance of the decision that Jonas Baade made in order to save the life of an individual in which he did not know.  Jonas Baade, who crossed nine time zones to meet Stephen, received an emotional standing ovation from those who were present to witness the connection of a lifetime.
     
The crowd was certainly there to have a good time and enjoy watching these celebrities play some softball as well as have fun and share laughs with everybody on the field. Some of the highlights of the game included Vince Gill taking the field for his 20th game, Deana Carter using her on-field antics to cheat and always considering herself "safe". This would eventually turn into "The Tomato Rule" in which all girls on the field were to be considered "safe", never be out and the announcers would say "Chop the lettuce, Lauren" as Lauren Alaina would take a swing. Lauren would play her heart out and even included a moment in which she would slide into home plate and cause herself to scrape her leg pretty badly but would continue to play. At one point, a foul ball would fly into the crowd and Charles Esten of the hit tv series "Nashville" immediately became concerned for the safety of those in the stands and assessed the situation. Once he realized that nobody had been injured, he gave his own personal safety announcement to the crowd to turn around and enjoy the game while watching for objects flying into the stands. The City of Hope used military armed forces members to umpire the game, giving it a patriotic feel and salute to those servicemen and women. Both teams were very well matched but it came down to the final inning where Bret Michaels would hit a walk off single that brought in live saving hero Jonas Baade, giving iHeartRadio a win of 6-5 in this year's challenge. City of Hope hit a home run this year by raising over $20,000.00 for cancer research.

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