The Los Angeles Dodgers voted Jason Heyward the winner of the 18th annual Roy Campanella Award, which is given to one player from the team who best exemplifies the spirit and leadership of the late Hall of Fame catcher.
Heyward joins Rafael Furcal (2006), Jamey Carroll (2010) and Freddie Freeman (2022) as the only first-year Dodgers to receive the honor. Chris Taylor is the last Roy Campanella Award winner who had already been with the team for multiple seasons when was voted the recipient in 2021.
Heyward is going to be presented the award during a pregame ceremony on Sunday night. He’ll be accompanied on the field by Campanella’s daughter, Joni Campanella Roan, and grandson, Malcolm Campanella.
After a disappointing finish to his tenure with the Chicago Cubs, Heyward signed a Minor League contract with the Dodgers and has become a significant contributor. He made the Opening Day roster out of Spring Training and took advantage of increasing opportunities in right field that were created with Mookie Betts playing second base more frequently than anticipated.
Heyward has also been a valued leader and mentor in the Dodgers clubhouse. Manager Dave Roberts named the veteran outfielder among the players who have ensured a singular approach and focus remained ahead of individual goals.
Heyward addressed the Dodgers and Cubs when they gathered in center field to celebrate Jackie Robinson Day. “Amazing opportunity,” he said.
“I feel like timing is everything, for all of us in every walk of life. Super cool, 14-year Major Leaguer, to have a chance to address everyone that came out here wanting to show support, pay homage and acknowledge Jackie Robinson Day.
“The Jackie Robinson story is the first story that I read as a kid. My parents got me two Jackie Robinson books. I remember reading them both and learning a lot about him. Little did I know, it was going to lead me on a long path of following his footsteps. Just wanted to be great, be the best teammate I could be, the best ballplayer I could be, work hard and things will come my way.
“Growing up in Georgia, understanding that there were going to be some things that were going to be different and unique about that situation. I’m fortunate enough to have support from teammates, family, all those things. Those different people from different walks of life, different nationalities, ethnicities, led me here today to address a group where everyone is different.”
Campanella was a three-time National League MVP (1951, 1953 and 1955), eight-time All-Star and a member of the 1955 World Series team. Campanella played in five World Series and his 142 RBI in 1953 set a franchise record at the time. It has since been broken by Tommy Davis collecting 153 RBI in 1962.
In 1,215 games over a 10-year career, all with the Brooklyn Dodgers, Campanella batted .276 with 242 home runs and 856 RBI. He was tragically paralyzed from the neck down due to a car accident in January 1958, which prevented Campanella for playing with the franchise in Los Angeles.
On May 7, 1959, an MLB-record 93,103 fans filled the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on “Roy Campanella Night” for an exhibition game between the Dodgers and New York 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, along with Jackie Robinson and Sandy Koufax. Campanella remained active in the Dodgers’ community relations department until his death on June 26, 1993, at the age of 71.
Dodgers history: Jason Heyward joins list of Roy Campanella Award winners
Rafael Furcal received the inaugural Roy Campanella Award in 2006 and since then the honor has gone 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), Justin Turner (2017, 2019-20), Chris Taylor (2021), Freddie Freeman (2022) and now Jason Heyward.
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