Justin Turner Opens Award Season By Earning Roy Campanella Honor

JT
(Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

In what promises to be one of many honors earned by players of the Dodgers this year, infielder Justin Turner on Friday night was named the winner of the 15th 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 team announced Turner about an hour before Friday’s series opener against the Angels. The award, which was voted upon by Dodger uniformed personnel, will be presented to Turner Saturday evening by Campanella’s daughter, Joni Campanella Roan, through a video message.

Former Dodger shortstop Rafael Furcal received the inaugural Roy Campanella Award in 2006. 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), Clayton Kershaw (2013-14), Zack Greinke (2015), Chase Utley (2016, 2018) and Turner (2017, 2019-20).

The 35-year-old Turner becomes the first Dodger to win the award three times, breaking a tie with the other two-time winners, Kershaw and Utley. Turner was initially signed by the Dodgers as a non-roster free agent with an invitation to spring training prior to the 2014 season. Consequently, he has been a star both on and off the field while also serving as a strong leader inside the clubhouse.

In 39 games this season, the Long Beach native is hitting .310 with four homers, nine doubles, 23 RBI and 25 runs scored while posting a .402 on-base percentage. Turner has reached base safely in 29 consecutive games played since August 4, while the Dodgers have gone 20-8 during that time.

Turner has also set an example for his teammates off the field in the community, having been named the Dodgers’ nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award three times (2017-18, ’20). He has been a fixture in the Los Angeles community since joining the Dodgers seven years ago and continued to make his presence felt in 2020, as he endlessly served Angelenos amid the coronavirus crisis. He donated an estimated 900,000 meals during the 82-day effort, culminating with the Dream Center naming their food bank The Justin & Kourtney Turner Food Bank.

In addition to his efforts at the Dream Center, Justin also donated several meals per week to the doctors, nurses and staff at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, while making frequent visits to patients at Cedars Sinai Hospital and UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital throughout the year.

One of the pillars of the Justin Turner Foundation is to support homeless veterans, and the Turners host an annual golf classic to help support that mission. Additionally, Justin has annually championed AM 570’s Veterans Day Radio-a-thon, which has benefited Paralyzed Veterans of America as well as the Dream Center’s Veteran’s Program.

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.

Campanella 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.

In January of 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.

Campanella 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 Sandy Koufax. Campanella remained active in the Dodgers’ Community Relations Department until his death in June of 1993 at the age of 71.

Turner celebrated Friday evening by going 2-for-3 with two home runs.

(Ally Salvage provided some information furnished in this report)

5 thoughts on “Justin Turner Opens Award Season By Earning Roy Campanella Honor

  1. The powers that be need to make sure that Mr. Turner is a lifetime Dodger. They need to bring him back for a few more years on the field and when he’s ready to retire, he needs to be part of the coaching staff or front office.
    He is truly the face of the Dodgers, a local guy, and probably going to live in SoCal after he stops playing. He needs to be one of those guys who is at every old timers game and is active in the community for the team.
    Justin Turner has all the qualities we want for the guys on our team to have: talent, always smiling, very active in charitable activities, acts as a mentor to the younger players and as an example to the entire team.
    We got lucky when he more or less fell in our laps a few years ago. We need to continue take advantage of everything he has to offer.

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      1. I think he gives the Dodgers a hometown discount, and I do not think he wants to leave. He knows he is getting older, and the aches and pains come more often. But I also think he feels the Dodgers are family, and all of his philanthropic pursuits are in the area. JT is definitely a class act.

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  2. If the DH is here to stay in the NL, JT will be a perfect guy to platoon with Rios at 3B and be the DH other times. He still has great value, but needs to recognize that he is never healthy for the whole season and is getting older. So JT, ask for a reasonable 3 year extension for $30-$35M at most. Speaking of extensions! Cory Seager needs to be extended as he has again proved he is a great hitter. His defense has been a little shady lately, so the question is does he stay at SS or move to 3B or does JT and Rios hold the hot corner down until Kody Hoese arrives in 2-3 years?

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    1. JT – I was thinking somewhere around $35-40M over 3 years, maybe up to $45M since JT can still hit just fine and assuming we have the DH that might be where he spends a lot of his time, but it ain’t my money.
      Seager – I am not a fan of Corey’s play at shortstop. He certainly isn’t horrible out there but there are a whole lot of guys who play the position better than he does. I don’t know how adamant he would be about staying a short if he signed an extension. I’m also not convinced he’d be a great third baseman. Maybe the future for him is at first base but if he really wants to stay at short he’ll find some team (maybe even this team) to give him a contract to play there.

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