CITY OF HOPE CELEBRITY SOFTBALL GAME HITS A HOME RUN IN ITS 25TH YEAR

Team iHeart tops Team Opry in 6 to 5 win as more than 20 Music and Sports Stars Step up to the Plate to Strike Out Cancer at First Tennessee Park in Nashville

It was a homerun for the 25thAnnual City of Hope Celebrity Softball Game, which saw more than 20 music and sports stars step up to the plate to strike out cancer at First Tennessee Park in Nashville. Team iHeart topped Team Opry in a down to the wire 6 to 5 win.

NASHVILLE, TN - JUNE 13: Actor Charles Esten showed of his softball skills for charity at City of Hope's 25th Annual Celebrity Softball Game at the new First Tennessee Park during CMA Music Festival in Nashville.  (Photo by John Shearer/Getty Images for City Of Hope) *** Local Caption *** Chip Esten

NASHVILLE, TN – JUNE 13: Actor Charles Esten showed of his softball skills for charity at City of Hope’s 25th Annual Celebrity Softball Game at the new First Tennessee Park during CMA Music Festival in Nashville. (Photo by John Shearer/Getty Images for City Of Hope) *** Local Caption *** Chip Esten

While Bret Michaels, Bobby Bones and the rest of the iHeart Team earned bragging rights, it is the patients at City of Hope who are the real winners with more than $200,000 raised for cancer research.

Country music icon Vince Gill returned to the field to play his 20th game in 25 years alongside country standouts Aaron Watson, Angie Johnson,Chuck Wicks, Bret Michaels, Bucky Covington, Deana Carter, JT Hodges, Lauren Alaina, Lindsay Ell, Love And Theft, and Phil Vassar. Joining in the milestone game were The Bobby Bones Show, “Nashville” star Charles Esten, ABC correspondent Rachel Smith, and current and former Nashville Predators’ Seth Jones and Stu Grimson.

NASHVILLE, TN - JUNE 13:  25th Annual Celebrity Softball Game at First Tennessee Park on June 13, 2015 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by John Shearer/Getty Images for City Of Hope) *** Local Caption *** Doug McCormick;Angie Johnson;Lauren Alaina;Bobby Bones;Bret Michaels;Seth Jones;Lindsay Ell;Stephen Barker Liles;Lunchbox;Eddie

NASHVILLE, TN – JUNE 13: 25th Annual Celebrity Softball Game at First Tennessee Park on June 13, 2015 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by John Shearer/Getty Images for City Of Hope) *** Local Caption *** Doug McCormick;Angie Johnson;Lauren Alaina;Bobby Bones;Bret Michaels;Seth Jones;Lindsay Ell;Stephen Barker Liles;Lunchbox;Eddie

NASHVILLE, TN - JUNE 13: (L-R) Lindsay Ell, Bret Michaels, Doug McCormick and Lauren Alaina step up to strike out cancer at City of Hope's 25th Annual Celebrity Softball Game at First Tennessee Park on June 13, 2015 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by John Shearer/Getty Images for City Of Hope) *** Local Caption *** Lindsay Ell;Bret Michaels;Doug McCormick;Lauren Alaina

NASHVILLE, TN – JUNE 13: (L-R) Lindsay Ell, Bret Michaels, Doug McCormick and Lauren Alaina step up to strike out cancer at City of Hope’s 25th Annual Celebrity Softball Game at First Tennessee Park on June 13, 2015 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by John Shearer/Getty Images for City Of Hope) *** Local Caption *** Lindsay Ell;Bret Michaels;Doug McCormick;Lauren Alaina

Thousands of fans packed the ballpark to catch the action and antics on the field. Before the first pitch was thrown, the crowds cheered wildly as Nashville native Stephen Bess, who received lifesaving treatment for acute lymphocytic leukemia more than two years ago at City of Hope, and his genetically matched, life-saving stem cell donor Jonas Baade crossed nine time zones to meet on the pitcher’s mound for the very first time.

The fan favorite game didn’t disappoint, as the score tied up 5 to 5 in the final inning, with iHeart’s Bret Michaels up to the plate. In true poetic fashion, a solid hit brought in the hero of the day and game winning run, stem cell donor Jonas Baade.

A pioneer in the treatment of bone and blood marrow diseases, City of Hope has performed more than 12,000 lifesaving bone marrow transplants. It also is a leading biomedical research institute for cancer, diabetes and other life-threatening illnesses. The City of Hope Celebrity Softball Game, presented by Staples and sponsored by PEOPLE Country, raises funds for that research.

NASHVILLE, TN - JUNE 13:  Bret Michaels showed his softball skills for charity at City of Hope's 25th Annual Celebrity Softball Game at the new First Tennessee Park during CMA Music Festival in Nashville.  (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for City Of Hope) *** Local Caption *** Bret Michaels

NASHVILLE, TN – JUNE 13: Bret Michaels showed his softball skills for charity at City of Hope’s 25th Annual Celebrity Softball Game at the new First Tennessee Park during CMA Music Festival in Nashville. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for City Of Hope) *** Local Caption *** Bret Michaels

Those unable to attend the game can still support the cause. A variety of unique merchandise and experiences, including meet-and-greets with the hottest artists, will be available for bid at charitybuzz.com. The proceeds will benefit City of Hope’s mission to eradicate cancer and other life-threatening diseases.

NASHVILLE, TN - JUNE 13: Rachel Smith, Deana Carter, Erin Bess, Stephen Bess, Bret Michaels, and Jonas Baade showed their softball skills for charity at City of Hope's 25th Annual Celebrity Softball Game at the new First Tennessee Park during CMA Music Festival in Nashville.  (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for City Of Hope) *** Local Caption *** Rachel Smith;Deana Carter;Erin Bess;Stephen Bess;Bret Michaels;Jonas Baade

NASHVILLE, TN – JUNE 13: Rachel Smith, Deana Carter, Erin Bess, Stephen Bess, Bret Michaels, and Jonas Baade showed their softball skills for charity at City of Hope’s 25th Annual Celebrity Softball Game at the new First Tennessee Park during CMA Music Festival in Nashville. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for City Of Hope) *** Local Caption *** Rachel Smith;Deana Carter;Erin Bess;Stephen Bess;Bret Michaels;Jonas Baade

About City of Hope

City of Hope is an independent research and treatment center for cancer, diabetes and other life-threatening diseases. Designated as a comprehensive cancer center, the highest recognition bestowed by the National Cancer Institute, City of Hope is also a founding member of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, with research and treatment protocols that advance care throughout the nation. City of Hope’s main hospital is located in Duarte, California, just northeast of Los Angeles. It is ranked as one of “America’s Best Hospitals” in cancer by U.S. News & World Report. Founded in 1913, City of Hope is a pioneer in the fields of bone marrow transplantation and genetics. For more information, visit www.cityofhope.org or follow City of Hope on facebook, twitter, youtube, instagram or flickr.

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