The Roberto Clemente Award presented by Chevrolet pays tribute to Clemente's achievements and character by recognizing current players who truly understand the value of helping others. It is named for the 12-time All-Star and Hall of Famer who died in a plane crash on New Year's Eve 1972 while attempting to deliver supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua.
Kershaw's charitable work has been focused on an organization called Arise Africa, which raises money to help build orphanages in Zambia. Clayton made a special visit to that African nation this past offseason with his wife, Ellen, who has made six trips to the impoverished country. Upon his return, Kershaw came up with the idea to donate $100 per strikeout to the organization in the hopes of building another orphanage for the kids. To date, the Texas native leads the National League with 231 strikeouts and "Kershaw's Challenge" (www.kershawchallenge.com) has raised $47,530 to the charity.
In addition to his efforts abroad, Kershaw is also a strong supporter of the Dodgers Dream Foundation and this year he attended the annual bowling tournament hosted by his teammate, James Loney, spoke to the Dodgers Dream Foundation Youth Baseball Camp and took part in a photo shoot for our the Heart Gallery Calendar which helps finds homes for Foster Children. He also attended a video game party at Dodger Stadium for a group of children with the Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) program.
In addition, Kershaw acted to help families in need of disaster relief following the tsunami in Japan, the tornado in Alabama and the tornado that devastated Joplin, Mo. Following each of these natural disasters, Kershaw and several of his teammates signed autographs to raise money for people in need of shelter, supplies or medical care.
On the field, Kershaw has been exemplary as well, fortifying his case for the 2011 Cy Young Award each time out. In addition to leading the National League in strikeouts, the left-hander currently leads the Major Leagues in ERA (2.36) and ranks second in the NL in wins (18) and opponents' batting average (.210). In his last trip to the mound, Kershaw became the first Dodger hurler since 2000 to win 18 games in a season and will still have three more starts in his quest for 20 victories this year, beginning tomorrow night.
The distinguished list of national Roberto Clemente Award recipients includes 13 members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame:
1971 Willie Mays* 1985 Don Baylor 1999 Tony Gwynn* 1972 Brooks Robinson* 1986 Garry Maddox 2000 Al Leiter 1973 Al Kaline* 1987 Rick Sutcliffe 2001 Curt Schilling 1974 Willie Stargell* 1988 Dale Murphy 2002 Jim Thome 1975 Lou Brock* 1989 Gary Carter* 2003 Jamie Moyer 1976 Pete Rose 1990 Dave Stewart 2004 Edgar Martinez 1977 Rod Carew* 1991 Harold Reynolds 2005 John Smoltz 1978 Greg Luzinski 1992 Cal Ripken, Jr.* 2006 Carlos Delgado 1979 Andre Thornton 1993 Barry Larkin 2007 Craig Biggio 1980 Phil Niekro* 1994 Dave Winfield* 2008 Albert Pujols 1981 Steve Garvey 1995 Ozzie Smith* 2009 Derek Jeter 1982 Ken Singleton 1996 Kirby Puckett* 2010 Tim Wakefield 1983 Cecil Cooper 1997 Eric Davis 1984 Ron Guidry 1998 Sammy Sosa * Member of Baseball Hall of FameBeginning tomorrow, fans are encouraged to participate in the process of selecting the national award recipient by visiting www.chevybaseball.com/clemente, a site powered by MLB.com and created specifically for the Roberto Clemente Award presented by Chevrolet platform, to vote for one of the 30 Club nominees. Voting ends on Oct. 9 and participating fans will be automatically registered for a chance to win a trip to the 2011 World Series, where the national winner of the Roberto Clemente Award presented by Chevrolet will be announced.
The winner of the fan poll will receive one vote among those cast by the selection panel, which includes Commissioner Selig; Vera Clemente, MLB Goodwill Ambassador and wife of the late Hall of Famer; Baseball Hall of Famer, TBS analyst and former Roberto Clemente Award winner Cal Ripken, Jr.; MLB Network analyst, TBS broadcaster and former Roberto Clemente Award winner John Smoltz; MLB Network analysts and former Roberto Clemente Award winner Al Leiter and Harold Reynolds; and MLB.com senior correspondent Hal Bodley.
The Dodgers will recognize Kershaw's nomination on Thursday, Sept. 15, prior to their home game with the Pittsburgh Pirates.