Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation Hosted Fifth Annual Blue Diamond Gala A Celebration with Dodger Players, Coaches, and Celebrities
By: Angela Redding
Photos: Diana Castro/Premier Photo Int’l.
Los Angeles, CA, (The Hollywood Times) 6/14/2019–“ We are so proud to be marking the fifth anniversary of our Blue Diamond Gala, an event that has continued to flourish each year, and raise funds for the instrumental work that the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation is doing in our communities,” said Mark Walter, Dodger owner and chairman of the LADF Board. “We knew we had to bring in an absolute superstar to celebrate this occasion, and having Bruno Mars headlining the gala is above and beyond what we could have hoped for. We know this will be our most memorable event yet.”
What could be better on a w-a-r-m June afternoon and an uncommonly breezy evening than to spend time with the Los Angeles Dodgers, celebrities, and a concert by Bruno Mars? Yes, Eleven-time GRAMMY Award winner, Bruno Mars. Not much.
Last night, upon entering Dodger Stadium, anticipation for all that the evening held in store for those in attendance could be felt in the air. The Los Angeles Dodgers 5th annual Blue Diamond Gala was set to begin.
The blue and gold themed evening kicked off with players, celebrities, and coaches, dressed more in blue than gold attire, lining the Dodger Blue, blue carpet which led to the pre-show dinner party in covered tents a few steps away from the entrance of Dodger Stadium.
The mood was set and plans came together nicely as everyone looked forward to enjoying a pre-show dinner party, two hours of entertainment and post-show burgers from IN-n-Out food trucks which were made available to any and all needing an after dinner/concert “snack”.
The fifth annual Blue Diamond Gala presented by the Los Angeles Dodgers Ownership Group is held yearly to celebrate the impactful work being done year-round by LADF. Billie Jean King and Ilana Kloss were this year’s Blue Diamond Gala honorees. The two social activists and tennis champions were recognized for their ongoing commitment to creating positive change through sports. King’s Los Angeles and baseball ties date to her childhood in Long Beach, where she grew up playing youth basketball and softball before taking up tennis at age 11.
Billie Jean King and Ilana Kloss at the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundations 5th Annual Blue Diamond Gala at the Dodger Stadium on June 12, 2019 in Los Angeles, CA (photo: Diana Castro/Premier Photo Int’l.)
THT: “You’re being honored tonight, congratulations. How important is this night to you?”
Billie Jean King: “It’s an honor. Ilana and I are in the ownership group now and we are the first women, I think, to be chosen as owners. It’s really wonderful.
A little over fifteen years ago I was talking to Jimmie Lee Solomon (a former Major League Baseball executive) and he talked about the dream of getting baseball fields made in urban areas for kids who really don’t have the chance to play baseball anymore. He told me that African American boys do not play baseball anymore. We’re not getting any of the boys in baseball. And because we’ve built these fields, it’s gone way up (the number of boys in urban areas playing baseball).
In fact, thirty of the seventy were just drafted in the average draft that we just did are African American boys. It used to be six or five or four. I think these diamonds are a reason that’s happened. They have access. You have to have access if you are going to have the chance to live your dreams.
I’m so happy we have these diamonds. I’m so happy we do other things to help all the communities in the L.A. area. That’s the Dodgers responsibility. That’s our responsibility as part owners, to give back. “
THT: “Your thoughts on Bruno Mars performing tonight?”
Billie Jean King: “Oh, we like Bruno Mars. (sings, dances a little and laughs)”
“The work that Ms. King and Ms. Kloss do to enhance lives through sports, leadership and advocacy is perfectly aligned with our own ‘Bigger Than Baseball’ mentality, and we couldn’t think of a better way to honor their commitment than at our biggest celebration of the year!” said Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation CEO Nichol Whiteman.
Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation CEO Nichol Whiteman at the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundations 5th Annual Blue Diamond Gala at the Dodger Stadium on June 12, 2019 in Los Angeles, CA
Emcee for the sold out event was Blackish star, Anthony Anderson. We stopped him on the blue carpet and asked:
THT: “Did you play baseball growing up?”
Anthony Anderson: “I did play baseball growing up. I played it poorly. That’s why I’m on the red carpet or blue carpet right now and not in a uniform.” (smiles)
THT: “Are you a Bruno Mars fan?”
Anthony Anderson: “I’m a big Bruno Mars fan and my favorite song is the one he has out with Cardi B right now, Finesse.”
Anthony Anderson at the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation’s 5th Annual Blue Diamond Gala at the Dodger Stadium on June 12, 2019 in Los Angeles, CA (photo: Diana Castro/Premier Photo Int’l.)
This was truly a night to celebrate, raise funds for youth and to be entertained by Bruno Mars, the tenth artist to win the 60th Annual GRAMMY Awards “Big 3” (Album of the Year, Record of the Year, and Song of the Year).
The night meant a lot to those in attendance and they shared their thoughts with THT.
Although Magic Johnson could not attend because he was out of town, his wife of 28 years, Cookie Johnson stopped to talk with us.
THT: “Why is this evening important to you?”
Cookie Johnson at the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation’s 5th Annual Blue Diamond Gala at the Dodger Stadium on June 12, 2019 in Los Angeles, CA
Cookie Johnson: “ Well, we’re a part of the Dodger family, number one, and this is our big gala. This is an opportunity for the Dodgers to give back. So, with the Dodger Foundation giving back to the community and to young people, it’s important.”
THT: “Are you a Bruno Mars fan?”
Cookie Johnson: responses with a big smile, “I’m a BIG Bruno Mars fan. I’ve been to a lot of his concerts and my husband’s out of town working and he’s so sad that he can’t be here because he loves Bruno Mars.”
Dodgers’ pitcher Clayton Kershaw took time to give us his thoughts on the contributions of the Dodgers Foundation to the community.
Clayton Kershaw and wife Ellen at the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation’s 5th Annual Blue Diamond Gala at the Dodger Stadium on June 12, 2019 in Los Angeles, CA (photo: Diana Castro/Premier Photo Int’l.)
THT: ”Talk to us about tonight and your thoughts on the event.”
Clayton Kershaw: “I think the Dodger Foundation is really important. I think Bruno Mars is pretty fun and we get to come and do that, but ultimately we’re all here for the Dodger Foundation and what they do in the community and what they do for a lot of kids in this great city.
So for us to be here and show a small bit of support today is important but really it is a culmination of everything they (the Dodger Foundation) do throughout the year.”
As the sun began to set, a voice came on over the loudspeaker letting guests and players know that the field was now open. All with access to the private sold-out concert by Bruno Mars began to exit the tents and arrival area and head towards the Dodger Stadium. Dana Middle School’s marching band entertained guests as they strolled down the blue carpet on their way to take their seat on the field.
Tiffany Haddish was one of the late arrivals and took a few moments to pose for pictures before heading onto the field.
Tiffany Haddish at the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundations 5th Annual Blue Diamond Gala at the Dodger Stadium on June 12, 2019 in Los Angeles, CA (photo: Diana Castro/Premier Photo Int’l.)
Los Angeles Dodgers Players
Players in attendance were Scott Alexander, Pedro Baez, Austin Barnes, Cody Bellinger, Walker Buehler, Dylan Floro, David Freese, Kyle Garlick, Enrique Hernandez, Rich Hill, Kenley Jansen, Joe Kelly, Clayton Kershaw, Kenta Maeda, Russell Martin, Max Muncy, Joc Pederson, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Corey Seager, Ross Stripling, Chris Taylor, Justin Turner, and Alex Verdugo.
Dodgers player Alex Verdugo and his sister Maria at the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation’s 5th Annual Blue Diamond Gala at the Dodger Stadium on June 12, 2019 in Los Angeles, CA (photo: Diana Castro/Premier Photo Int’l.)
Cody Bellinger and at the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation’s 5th Annual Blue Diamond Gala at the Dodger Stadium on June 12, 2019 in Los Angeles, CA
Notable celebrities in attendance included, Prince Jackson, Matt Iseman, Mario & Courtney Lopez, Loni Love, Omar Miller, Emily Osment, Haley Joel Osment, Holly Robinson Peete, and Tiffany Haddish, Loretta Devine
Michael Joseph Jackson Jr. a.k.a. Prince at the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation’s 5th Annual Blue Diamond Gala at the Dodger Stadium on June 12, 2019 in Los Angeles, CA
Rodney, Holly Robinson Peete and son at the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation’s 5th Annual Blue Diamond Gala at the Dodger
Stadium on June 12, 2019 in Los Angeles, CA
Comedian and television host Loni Love at the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation’s 5th Annual Blue Diamond Gala at the Dodger Stadium on June 12, 2019 in Los Angeles, CA
Mario Lopez and Courtney Mazza at the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation’s 5th Annual Blue Diamond Gala at the Dodger Stadium on June 12, 2019 in Los Angeles, CA
The Blue Diamond Gala raised over $3 million for the Foundation’s Direct Programs.
Since inception, LADF has invested over $25 million into the Los Angeles community in the form of direct programs and grant making to local organizations, impacting millions of children. Proceeds from the Blue Diamond Gala will directly impact LADF’s Dodgers RBI, and Dodgers Dreamfields programs. Past Blue Diamond galas have contributed to strengthened infrastructure, growth in programs, and increased fundraising. LADF now serves more than 10,000 youth through Dodgers RBI and impacts over 300,000 youth through Dodgers Dreamfields – with 24 of 50 fields completed in the last five years alone. LADF has pledged to build an additional 25 fields in the next 15 years.
About the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation
Founded in 1995, the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation (LADF) is the official team charity of the Los Angeles Dodgers. An award-winning leader in sports-based youth development, LADF harnesses the power of the Dodger brand, and a passionate fan base, to significantly impact underserved youth in some of the most challenged neighborhoods of Los Angeles. With a focus on Sports + Recreation, Education + Literacy, and Health + Wellness, LADF administers direct programs serving youth and communities at large and provides grants to local nonprofit organizations. With a bigger than baseball mentality, LADF is focused on finding innovative ways to create opportunities for children through programs that engage with kids in sports, helps kids stay active and promote academic success. With the support of partners, stakeholders and fans, LADF produces incredible results on fields, in classrooms and at recreation centers, creating Major League Communities.
The Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation envisions a city where every young Angeleno, in every neighborhood can thrive.
Visit LADF online at www.dodgers.com/ladf, follow them on Twitter, @DodgersFdn, Instagram @dodgersfoundation and like them on Facebook at /LosAngelesDodgersFoundation
Event: 5th Annual Dodgers’ Blue Diamond Gala 2019
Headline Performer: Bruno Mars
Host/MC: Anthony Anderson
A Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation Live Event. Date: June 12, 2019, Time: 5:00 p.m. at Dodger Stadium