For 26 years, City of Hope, an independent research and treatment center for cancer, diabetes and other life-threatening diseases, has hosted the Celebrity Softball Game to raise money and awareness to strike out cancer. This year’s game was held at First Tennessee Park in Nashville on June 7, where more than 30 musicians took the field as part of Team Opry and Team iHeart Country. The four-inning game, which ended in an 18–18 tie, featured country stars trading in their microphones for baseball bats and gloves.
“I cannot believe we are on the 26th year,” said Bruce Hinton, who founded the event and was presented with the Champion of Hope Award by Big Machine Label Group’s Scott Borchetta. “Let’s hope we have another 25 years. Millions of people are having a better life because of City of Hope. Vince Gill has been here 25 of 26 years. Vince is the glue of this game.”
More than $200,000 was raised for cancer research. Lauren Alaina, Craig Wayne Boyd, Danielle Bradbery, The Bobby Bones Show, Bucky Covington, Jessie James Decker, Charles Esten, Nick Fradiani, Vince Gill, Mickey Guyton, Jonathan Jackson, Chris Lane, LOCASH, Scotty McCreery, A Thousand Horses, Tristan McIntosh, Bret Michaels, David Nail, Cassadee Pope, RaeLynn, Jamie Lynn Spears, Mark Wills, Brett Young and former Major League Baseball pitcher Barry Zito all put on their respective Grand Ole Opry or iHeart Radio jerseys and took the field to strike out cancer.
Before the game kicked off at 3 p.m., the players chatted with press. Bret Michaels, a lifelong Type 1 diabetic, who has gone through brain surgery and heart surgery, said that because of good medical attention, he’s still here today.
“City of Hope does so much for diabetes and cancer,” Bret said to Nash Country Daily. “I had a blast last year but the fact that we’re raising so much money is amazing.”
While Mickey Guyton says she has never played softball before, she knew she had to be part of the cause.
“I have two friends fighting for their lives, so it’s really, really important to me that we find a cure for this awful disease,” said Mickey.
Trisha Yearwood sang the national anthem before Team iHeart Country took the field. After a home run from LOCASH’s Chris Lucas, the inning ended with Team Opry in the lead by five runs. By the bottom of the second, each team was tied 9–9. While Team Opry took the lead once again in the final inning with a score of 18–14, some fielding errors and questionable plays added two runs to the board before a hit from Team iHeart Country’s David Nail brought in two runs to tie the game. Rather than play another inning, the two teams settled on a tie of 18–18.
The four-inning game saw playful competition between the musicians, which included some good-natured trash talking from Lauren Alaina, and Mickey running the bases with her dog, Charlie, in her arms.
“We’re here for City of Hope first and foremost, and we’re going to relive a little bit of our glory days out there and run around and play catch and hope we don’t get hurt,” says David, a former college baseball player.
David and his teammates did exactly that with the Celebrity Softball Game, all while raising money for a worthy cause.
photos by Lec Garcia