Blake Dingman, Daniel Manrique, and Cody Coffman all had one thing in common: They loved the Los Angeles Dodgers.
"He loved baseball," said Blake's mother, Lorrie Dingman. "Blake chose to have a World Series party instead of a Halloween party this year. He told everyone to come dressed up in their Dodger gear."
In addition to being diehard fans of the Boys in Blue, the three young men were all part of the tragic and senseless shooting that took place at the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks on Nov. 7. Blake, Daniel, and Cody were three vibrant, kind, and selfless men whose lives were taken far too soon.
"I remember him all the time," said Daniel's mother Elsa Manrique, as she fought back tears. "It has been very hard. I'm still very proud of my son, even though he's in heaven now."
As part of their annual community service week, the Dodgers honored the victims, families, survivors, and first responders with an emotional ceremony and luncheon held at the Lundring Event Center at California Lutheran University on Thursday.
Over 20 current Dodger players, including manager Dave Roberts, and former player, Shawn Green, were all in attendance to honor the lives that were lost, to open their arms and offer support to the grieving community, and to present the families of those affected with autographed bats, hats, and t-shirts.
The nearly two-hour event was hosted by SportsNetLA's Alanna Rizzo, and featured a tear-inducing version of "Amazing Grace," sung by Brook Simpson, a former finalist on NBC's "The Voice."
However, for the Dingman, Manrique, and Coffman families, it was a bittersweet moment that hit heartbreakingly close to home.
"We were born and raised Dodger fans," said Jason Coffman, Cody's father. "He loved Justin [Turner]. He loved Justin's big red beard. It was a staple for what he loved. To know that Cody is not going to [meet Justin] and I get too hurts. But I know that when I shake the hand of these players, he's shaking the hands of these players as well."
Cody's younger brother Josh is also a huge Turner fan, and the youngest of the Coffman boys, Dominic, idolizes 2017 Rookie of the Year winner Cody Bellinger. Both players hearing of this fact made sure to spend time with the Coffman family during the event, with Bellinger intentionally sitting next to young Dominic during lunch.
"He's geeking out right now," said Coffman. "We've been Dodger fans our whole lives."
Bellinger was also a fan favorite of the Dingman family as well.
"The story in our family has been that when Cody Bellinger came up to bat, it was like Blake is up to bat," said Blake's mother Lorrie. "Blake played first base and centerfield just like Cody. This is hard to be here because it's close to home. It's baseball, but I'm trying to have a good time because that's what Blake would do."
Other than the mainstays like Bellinger, and Turner, the Manrique family was excited to meet another player for an entirely different reason than how he performed on the diamond.
"Chris Taylor!" said Genevieve Urquidi, one of Daniel Manrique's best friends and fellow diehard Dodger fan. "His favorite player is Chris Taylor because he really loves country music and that's Dan's favorite type of music as well."
Urquidi and Manrique went to dozens of games each season, but the last one they attended together was the infamous Game 3 of the 2018 World Series, when Max Muncy hit a walk-off home run in the 18th inning of a marathon game that was the longest played in World Series history.
"That was an epic game," said Urquidi. "We were hardcore rooting for them. We celebrated when they won and were over the moon. It was a special moment."
For the other Dodger players in attendance, Thursday's ceremony was also a special moment in their lives as well. Despite their season already being over, they too felt the impact of the tragedy in their community.
"The tragedy that took place here rocked us all," said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. "To share stories and share hugs with people who support us every day. We're all humbled to be here."
After lunch, all the players in attendance including Scott Alexander, Matt Beaty, Walker Buehler, J.T. Chargois, Dylan Floro, David Freese, Rocky Gale, Adam McCreery, Edwin Rios, Keibert Ruiz, Dennis Santana, Josh Sborz, Jaime Shcultz, Brock Stewart, Ross Stripling and Alex Verdudo all took part in a country line dancing lesson on the dance floor.
"The tragedy that took place that night changed the face of our community forever," said marketing president of Bank of America, Midge Campbell-Thomas, who helped sponsor and put on the event. "Today is about honoring the families of the victims and honoring the memory of your loved ones. It's about healing."
The event marked the finale of the weeklong community outreach and fan appreciation week put on by the Dodgers each and every year. 2019 marked the 16th annual community week that featured nine different events attended by players, coaches, alumni and broadcasters at different locations throughout the Southland.