Despite his stellar season, Clayton Kershaw seems unlikely to win his second straight National League Cy Young Award. But he will take home some hardware for this season, as Kershaw was named on Sunday the 2012 winner of the Roberto Clemente Award.
The honor is given annually to the MLB player who best represents the game through contributions on and off the field. Kershaw was presented with the award Sunday night prior to Game 4 of the World Series.
"His accomplishments on the mound at such a young age are well known to baseball fans, but I am delighted that our game can shine a light on Clayton’s extraordinary efforts with his wife Ellen to make a difference in the lives of children in Zambia," said commissioner Bud Selig. "Clayton Kershaw is a leader through his inspiring example, and he is a wonderful representation of the enduring, philanthropic spirit of Roberto Clemente."
Kershaw and his wife started Kershaw's Challenge, a charitable organization to raise awareness and help children and families in need. The Kershaws, along with Arise Africa, have helped build and sustain an orphanage in Zambia. Kershaw donated $100 for each of his 229 strikeouts this season and to date have raised nearly $58,000 toward the project.
"It is an incredible honor to receive this award," said Kershaw in a statement. "Just being associated with someone like Roberto Clemente is truly humbling and I am extremely grateful."
Kershaw was selected for the award from a panel that included Selig, Vera Clemente (Roberto's wife), Tim McCarver, Joe Buck, Dennis Eckersley, John Smoltz, Al Leiter, Harold Reynolds, Barry Larkin, Nomar Garciaparra, and Hal Bodley. In addition, fans were allowed to vote, the results of which counted as one vote on the panel.
"I am happy to congratulate Clayton Kershaw on being named the recipient of this year’s Roberto Clemente Award," said Vera Clemente. "The work that this young man has accomplished to help youth around the world is wonderful, and we are proud to welcome him among the many players who have carried on Roberto’s legacy."
Kershaw is the second Dodger to win the award, which was also captured by Steve Garvey in 1981. The award has been given since 1971, and was named in Clemente's honor after he died in a plane crash on his way to help earthquake victims in Nicaragua on December 31, 1972.