Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner, the one they call “Red,” worked and worked to carve a place for himself in the league since graduating from Cal State Fullerton in 2006.
Now, the 32-year-old batting a career-high .374 has reached heights few could have predicted, as he was selected to the 2017 MLB All-Star Game by winning the Final Vote. He received 20.8 million votes by text and online, a record for the competition.
“I don’t think it’ll set in for awhile,” he said prior to the All-Star game, referring to earning his first All-Star selection. “The amount of support and the votes, setting a record – it’s very humbling.”
“I can’t believe the amount of support I got from everyone,” Turner said. “Just unbelievable.”
Turner, who went 0 for 1 in the 2-1 American League All-Star victory on July 11, has helped elevate the Dodgers to a 64-29 record as of Sunday, the best in Major League Baseball. He has 89 hits in 238 at-bats, plus 11 home runs, 42 runs scored, 39 RBI to go along with a .469 on-base percentage.
He has long had the energy, the motivation, the passion — the intangibles coaches can’t teach. It would make sense he honed his game at four-time national champion Cal State Fullerton, a place for what those within the program call “grinders”: coachable players, hard-working players, elite players, many of whom, for one reason or another, were overlooked as high-schoolers.
That happened to Turner, as other schools weren’t exactly lining up to sign him out of Mayfair High School. But the Long Beach native dreamed of becoming a Titan, serving as a batboy for the program growing up. Turner’s father was friends with Rick Vanderhook, the Titans’ current coach.
Turner, who competed for the Titans from 2003 to 2006, eventually helped the Titans win the 2004 national championship. That year, Fullerton defeated Texas, 3-2.
“I think he’s probably played with a chip on his shoulder for a long period of time, even now,” said George Horton, Turner’s former CSUF coach who now coaches at the University of Oregon.
“I think the good thing about Red is that he’s never satisfied. He’s always thinking about getting better and improving.”
“There’s never a finish line, as I like to say, for him. It’s always about something else,” Horton said.
Turner made an impact in college right away, as he was named a freshman All-American and was named to the College World Series all-tournament team in…