Not too hot, not too cold. In fact, it was just right for the annual City of Hope Celebrity Softball game Thursday (June 5) at Nashville’s Greer Stadium. An enthusiastic, sun-drenched crowd greeted a multitude of country music artists as they arrived. Crowding the fences, fans took pictures and collected autographs prior to the game.
Joe Nichols, Chris Cagle, Bryan White, Linda Davis, Vince Gill, Lorrie Morgan and Sammy Kershaw, Dusty Drake, Aaron Lines, Chalee Tennison and others comprised the teams sponsored by two local radio stations.
Rebecca Lynn Howard opened the event with the national anthem. Once the game began, so did the monkey business. Billy Dean’s first appearance at the plate was interrupted by Trick Pony’s Ira Dean squirting water all over him. Foul balls stretched into base hits. Troy Gentry visited with fans along the right field foul line until Vince Gill sailed a ball into right field. Cigar in mouth, Gentry ran after the ball, only to return to the fans after the play. At one point, when no one appeared ready to bat, emcee Cledus T. Judd grabbed a bat to hit. Heidi Newfield of Trick Pony batted twice in one inning — once for herself, then later for Lonestar’s Dean Sams. At times, there was evidence of somewhat serious softball taking place. But for the most part, it was softball of a much different breed.
Ira Dean led the fans in cheers throughout the game from atop the dugout. Sams joined him in a fan-pleasing buck dancing-type cheer.
Play was interrupted momentarily when a scantily clad fellow scampered across the field. Security was called, but the fellow moved quicker than security. As it turned out, the streaker was actually Ben Sesar, Brad Paisley’s drummer, who was promoting the July 22 release of his boss’ new album, Mud on the Tires. While Sesar was actually clad in a gray thong, he later joked, “I must be missing whatever chromosome tells me I should know better.” Noting that the security guards at the softball game were part of the joke, Sesar said, “I wanted to make sure I didn’t get arrested.”
Since its inception, the softball game has raised more than 1 million dollars to support the City of Hope National Medical Center and the Beckman Research Institute in its commitment to prevent and cure cancer and a host of other life-threatening diseases.