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)