You can never have enough of your own players on an All-Star Team. The Los Angeles Dodgers made that clear this week when they mobilized the die-hard fan club known as Pantone 294 to help with the voting for the final spot in the National League.
And they were so successful that third baseman Justin Turner garnered a record-breaking 20.8 million votes to become a first-time All-Star at age 32.
Turner, who missed part of the season due to injury, is hitting .380 with eight home runs and 33 RBI as of July 6. He’s always been considered a good third baseman, but that’s one of the deepest position in the majors right now. There are so many talented players manning the hot corner that Kris Bryant of the world champion Chicago Cubs — and last season’s National League MVP — did not make this year’s All-Star Team.
Credit Pantone 294 for ensuring Turner’s trip to Miami for the 88th All-Star Game. Besides being the official color of the Los Angeles Dodgers, it’s also the name of a group of Dodger fans who cheer on the team — sometimes by the thousands — at both home and away games. Thanks to their hard work, the Dodgers will now have six representatives at Marlins Park next Tuesday: Turner along with pitchers Clayton Kershaw, Alex Wood and Kenley Jansen, shortstop Cory Seager and rookie outfielder Cody Bellinger.
The Dodgers contacted Pantone 294 Monday morning with what the group’s PR Director Desiree García described as “a secret mission”: to get Turner, the only Dodger player named as a “Final Five” finalist, which is the final phase of All-Star voting. After fans pick the starting lineup, and the players and managers select the reserves, fans get to vote one more time over four days to fill the last spot in each league’s 32-man roster.
“The Dodgers didn’t want any other teams to copy their voting idea, so I had to post a vague post on Facebook looking for volunteers, with just a photo of Justin Turner,” García told La Vida Baseball. Within an hour, she had received over 400 emails from volunteers.
The Dodgers set up a voting command station at the stadium. From Monday through Thursday, including during the Fourth of July holiday, volunteers worked around the clock, voting under the hashtag #VoteJT on Twitter.
“Not one person slept, everyone stayed at their stations and every hour we did a little dance with the Dodgers intern to stay motivated. Throughout the four days we got lots of visits from the players, thanking us which made the volunteers’ day,” García said.
— Matt Johnson (@MattJohnsonNEWS) July 6, 2017
Dodgers players including Adrián González, Yasiel Puig and Turner himself showed up to the voting headquarters to show their appreciation for the volunteers.
— AM 570 LA Sports (@AM570LASports) July 6, 2017
Even after the voting ended, volunteers stayed at Dodger Stadium until the announcement was made: Turner was headed to the All-Star Game. “When the announcement was made, I don’t think there was a dry eye in the room,” García said.
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) July 6, 2017
García said, to her knowledge, the Dodgers are the only MLB team who’ve created a fan-driven campaign like this. The Dodgers have the “only fan base that can organize something like this,” she said.
“For us, it wasn’t just getting Justin Turner, one of the best players in the National League, to the All-Star Game. For us, it was so much deeper, knowing we helped him get to the [game] means so much to us, not because of the recognition that comes associated with it, but because he’s such a great human being and one hell of a baseball player.” García said.
The Dodgers ended up with six All-Stars because Kershaw, who was selected by NL managers, is actually making a start on Sunday for the Dodgers as they look to remain at the top of the NL West. By rule, any pitcher who starts on the Sunday before an All-Star Game can not throw in the Midsummer Classic. Left-handed Wood, who is 10-0 with a 1.67 ERA, was named Kershaw’s replacement.
Despite the shared fandom, the Dodgers and Pantone 294 have always operated as separate entities. This week, the Dodgers and their fans proved there’s no ‘I’ in team. With shared benefits for Turner, the Dodgers and Pantone.
“Next year we plan on campaigning ahead of time to avoid awesome players such as [Turner] being snubbed again. We have a job to do as a fan base and we now know this,” García said.
Pantone 294 will not only be at this year’s All-Star Game on Tuesday, they will also be cheering on their Dodgers when they take on the Marlins at Marlins Park on July 15 in the second contest of a three-game series.
Follow La Vida Baseball’s ongoing coverage of the All-Star Game here as well as on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Featured Image: Matt Mesa / Los Angeles Dodgers