LOS ANGELES — Justin Turner on Monday was named the Roberto Clemente Award winner for 2022, with the Dodgers third baseman at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia to be honored on the field before Game 3 of the World Series.
The Clemente Award honors annually the major league player who “best represents the game of baseball through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy, and positive contributions, both on and off the field.” Every team has one nominee for the award each year. Turner was also the Dodgers nominee for the award in 2017, 2018, 2020, and 2021.
“With the way our season ended and how everything went, this award was probably as far away from being on our mind as it can get,” Turner said. “When we got the phone call informing us, it was quite a surprise, and obviously very exciting news for us, being nominated for five years.”
The league-wide winner is determined by a panel including Clemente’s sons Enrique, Luis and Roberto Jr., MLB commissioner Rob Manfred, former MLB players and Clemente Award winners, plus reporters from MLB Network, FOX Sports, ESPN, TBS and MLB.com.
Also part of the selection process is fan voting, with Turner receiving the most votes this year among the 30 nominees.
Turner was honored for his philanthropic work in and around Los Angeles during his nine years with the Dodgers. That includes starting the Justin Turner Foundation with his wife Kourtney in 2016, which supports homeless veterans, children and families battling life-altering illnesses, and youth baseball organizations. The foundation holds an annual golf tournament and a 5-K run, and has supported various other events including the AM 570 Veterans Day radiothon and the LA Marathon.
Justin and Kourtney Turner are on the board of trustees at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. They’ve donated over 70,000 toys and 14,000 bicycles to children in and around LA. They’ve also been heavily involved in the Dream Center in Los Angeles, including having its food bank named after the Turners in 2020.
“It’s not why we do it. It’s not why we have our foundation. It’s not why we spend as much time as we can giving back to the community,” Turner said of winning the Clemente Award. “But it’s definitely nice to be recognized for that, and I think it’s also great for our foundation and our platform to get some national coverage and awareness, to hopefully help grow it and take it to the next level to be able to impact more people.”
Turner said associating with the Dream Center in 2016 helped put the wheels in motion to start his own foundation. They asked him to raise money via a golf tournament, which has since turned into the Justin Turner Golf Classic.
“We put the tournament together in under two months and it was a huge success. We raised a bunch of money and got to open the men’s program at the Dream Center, and that kind of set a light bulb off,” Turner said. “Wow, this is amazing what our platform is capable of, raising funds to support a cause that’s important to the city of LA. From that moment, we were like, ‘We want to start a foundation.’
“We want to be able to do more events like this. We want to be able to raise more money and impact more people on a larger scale than just when the Dodgers asked us to go do events. We wanted to be able to set them up and go do this stuff on our own. So we didn’t have to sit around and wait for someone to invite us to do these things.”
Turner’s the third Dodger to win the Clemente Award, joining first baseman Steve Garvey (1981) and pitcher Clayton Kershaw (2012). Turner cited Kershaw among his mentors in giving back and connecting with people both locally and all over the world. He also mentioned as inspiration former Mets teammates David Wright and Ike Davis — the latter Turner’s roommate with New York — plus Dodgers teammates Adrián González and Curtis Granderson.
“All these guys set an example and kid of set the bar for me to achieve similar things off the field,” Turner said. “In that same sentence, I’ve always felt like it’s a responsibility for me to help our younger guys realize their platform and how much of an impact they can have.
“Our number one goal is to help as many people as we can, but I think number two is to help our younger guys realize and grow and start their foundations, and hopefully impact as many people.”
On the field in 2022, Turner hit .278/.350/.438 with 36 doubles and 13 home runs, splitting time between third base and designated hitter. His 123 wRC+ this season marked a ninth straight season with at least a 120 wRC+ since joining his hometown team. Among Dodgers with at least 1,000 games played, Turner’s 133 OPS+ ranks third, trailing only Pedro Guerrero (149 OPS+) and Duke Snider (142).
Turner is the all-time franchise postseason leader in hits (85), home runs (13), doubles (19), runs scored (43), runs batted in (42), total bases (145), walks (38), hit by pitches (13), and games played (86). He turns 38 in November, and as of now his contract status for 2023 is pending.
The Dodgers hold a $16-million club option on Turner for next year, with a $2-million buyout if it is not exercised. By rule, all options must be exercised or declined within five days after the World Series ends. Turner said he hasn’t had any conversations with the team regarding his contract, describing his current status as “in limbo” as he awaits the Dodgers’ decision.
“Everything in my life feels like it has really taken off since the day I put the Dodger uniform on,” Turner said. “Obviously it’s very special to me, growing up in Southern California, getting to wear that jersey, and getting to be a part of an organization that has so much history and as so many people who have impacted the game in so many different ways. I’m just trying to do my little part.”
Whether Turner returns to the Dodgers or not, he and Kourtney plan to continue the foundation, including after his playing career ends.
“That’s something that will always be a part of Kourt and I’s DNA. Obviously we don’t know what it will look like when eventually I am done playing, and how events will come together and what’s going to happen on that front,” Turner said. “But I think it’s something we will always continue and always be giving back and trying to help people.”