Monday, September 22, 2014

Clayton Kershaw wins ninth annual Roy Campanella award

Clayton Kershaw wins the Roy Campanella award again.

From the Dodgers -

The Los Angeles Dodgers announced today that left-handed pitcher Clayton Kershaw was named the winner of the ninth annual Roy Campanella Award, which is given to the Dodger player who best exemplifies the spirit and leadership of the late Hall of Fame catcher. The award, which was voted upon by Dodger uniformed personnel, will be presented to Kershaw by Campanella’s daughter, Joni Campanella Roan, and Special Advisor to the Chairman Don Newcombe during pregame ceremonies tonight.

Former Dodger shortstop Rafael Furcal received the inaugural Roy Campanella Award in 2006 and since then the honor has been awarded to Russell Martin (2007), James Loney (2008), Juan Pierre (2009), Jamey Carroll (2010), Matt Kemp (2011), A.J. Ellis (2012) and Kershaw the last two seasons.

The Campanella Award is the first of what figures to be a multitude of awards the left-hander will take home after this season, as he has put together one of the best years by a hurler in Major League history. The Texas native is currently the only pitcher in baseball with 20 wins and he has accomplished that in just 26 starts, joining Pedro Martinez (1999) as the only pitchers since World War II to win 20 games in under 30 starts. Kershaw also leads the Major Leagues in ERA by a wide margin (1.80) and with one start remaining has an outside chance of winning his second “triple crown” as he currently trails Washington’s Stephen Strasburg by seven strikeouts. Kershaw will most likely be the first pitcher in baseball history to have the best ERA in the Major Leagues four consecutive seasons. 

The NL MVP candidate also leads the Majors this season with a 0.86 WHIP and ranks among the NL leaders in opponents’ batting average (.195, T-1st), shutouts (2, T-4st), complete games (6, 1st) and strikeouts per nine innings (10.78, 1st). The Dodgers are 22-4 (.846) when he takes the mound in 2014.

The 26-year-old made his fourth consecutive All-Star team this season and made his fourth consecutive Opening Day start for the Dodgers. On June 18, Kershaw no-hit the Colorado Rockies, allowing just one runner to reach base (via error) and struck out 15 in what is widely considered to be one of the three or four greatest single-game performances in baseball history. He won the NL Pitcher of the Month award in both June and July and took home NL Player of the Week honors twice this season.

Kershaw has gone 97-49 in his seven Major League seasons and since making his MLB debut in 2008, he leads the Majors with a 2.49 ERA and a .209 opponents’ batting average. The 2011, 2013 and soon to be 2014 NL Cy Young Award winner, is set to join Koufax (1963, 1965-66) as the only Dodger to win the honor three times. Kershaw was originally selected by the Dodgers in the first round (seventh overall) in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft out of Highland Park (Texas) High School.

Kershaw and his wife, Ellen, have made a significant impact off the field throughout his seven-year career, hosting the second annual Ping Pong 4 Purpose earlier this month to raise money for their charity organization, Kershaw’s Challenge, which encourages people to make a difference by giving back to at-risk children and communities in need. The charity has provided assistance to a variety of organizations, including to its cornerstone charity, “Arise Africa,” which helped the Kershaws build and sustain an orphanage for children in Lusaka, Zambia, called “Arise Home,” along with the Dream Center in Los Angeles, Cure International in Zambia and Mercy Street in their hometown of Dallas, Texas. For his charity work, Kershaw was recognized by Major League Baseball with the 2012 Roberto Clemente Award as the baseball player who best represents the game through positive contributions on and off the field, including sportsmanship and community involvement. He was once again nominated for the award by the Dodgers this season and is also in the running for the Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award, handed out by the Major League Baseball Players Association.

Campanella was a three-time National League Most Valuable Player (1951, 1953 and 1955), eight-time All-Star and a member of the 1955 World Championship team. He played in five World Series and his 142 RBI in 1953 set a franchise record, since surpassed by Tommy Davis (153 in 1962). In 1,215 career games during a 10-year career, all with the Dodgers, he batted .276 with 242 home runs and 856 RBI.

He began his career in the Negro Leagues, establishing himself as one of the top catchers in the league before joining the Dodger organization in 1946. Campanella played for Class B Nashua of the New England League, making that club the first integrated affiliated baseball team in the United States.

On Jan. 29, 1958, just as the Dodgers were making final preparations for their move to Los Angeles, Campanella was involved in a tragic car accident that paralyzed him from the neck down, marking the end of his playing career. On May 7, 1959, a Major League record-setting 93,103 fans filled the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on “Roy Campanella Night” for an exhibition game between the Dodgers and Yankees.

He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1969 and was among the first three Dodgers to have their uniform numbers retired alongside Jackie Robinson and Koufax. Campanella remained active in the Dodgers’ Community Relations Department until his death on June 26, 1993 at the age of 71.

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