The Dodgers announced on Monday afternoon that third baseman Justin Turner was named the winner of the 12th annual Roy Campanella Award. This honor 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 Turner by Campanella’s daughter, Joni Campanella Roan, and his grandson, Cary Bell, during pregame ceremonies on Tuesday night.
Turner, 32, was initially signed by the Dodgers as a non-roster free agent with an invitation to Spring Training prior to the 2014 season. Since then, JT has emerged as an All-Star on the field and a strong leader inside the clubhouse. Turner has led the National League in batting average for much of the season and currently ranks second in the league with both his .321 batting average and .414 on-base percentage, while playing elite defense in 114 games started at third base.
This season, the Long Beach native earned the final roster spot on the NL All-Star team through the “final vote,” garnering a record-setting 20.8 million votes online and via social media.
While setting an example for his teammates to follow on the field, Turner has been just as impressive as a leader in the community, which this year culminated in his being named the Dodgers’ nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award.
Turner, who was nominated by his teammates for the MLB Player Association’s Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award last year, frequently makes community appearances on behalf of the team and often schedules his own visits to Cedars-Sinai Hospital to spend time with patients and to the Los Angeles Dream Center – a nonprofit that assists homeless families with residential, foster care, medical, life skills and other services. He also has his own foundation, the Justin Turner Foundation, which focuses on helping homeless veterans, children and families battling life-changing illnesses, and military little league baseball and softball.
When Turner signed a four-year contract to stay in Los Angeles this winter, he helped counsel All-Star closer Kenley Jansen, who eventually committed to staying with the Dodgers for five years. When the pair met with the media together after signing their deals, Jansen had this to say about the 2017 Roy Campanella Award winner:
“To have me and Justin back here, it kind of sets a tone for the young guys to kind of see how the process goes,” Jansen said. “Justin signed here on a minor league deal and became a star. Me, being a catcher who failed and then becoming one of the best closers, for the young guys to see that, I think it will help us a lot to win a championship.”
Added Dodger manager Dave Roberts during the season, “J.T. is the epitome of what we’re trying to do going forward, the type of baseball player he is, what he stands for. Those are the guys you win with.”
Roy Campanella was a three-time National League Most Valuable Player in the early 1950’s, 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. In 1,215 career games during a 10-year career, all with the Dodgers, he batted .276 with 242 home runs and 856 RBI.
Former Dodger shortstop Rafael Furcal received the inaugural Roy Campanella Award in 2006, and since then the honor has been awarded to Russell Martin in 2007, James Loney in 2008, Juan Pierre in 2009, Jamey Carroll in 2010, Matt Kemp in 2011, A.J. Ellis in 2012, Clayton Kershaw in both 2013 and 2014, Zack Greinke in 2015 and Chase Utley in 2016.
(Joe Jareck provided the majority of information furnished in this report)