Kershaw recognized as Sportsman of Year
Los Angeles Sports Council to present award March 15
LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw, who rolls through the Southland next week on a promotional tour for his new book, on Thursday was named winner of the 2011 Sportsman of the Year award by the Los Angeles Sports Council.
The award, presented by AT&T U-verse, will be given to Kershaw on March 15 at Club Nokia at L.A. Live, assuming Kershaw gets a hall pass from Spring Training. The awards show will be televised by FSN Prime Ticket.
Previous winners of the award, which has been presented since 2005, are: Derek Fisher, L.A. Lakers (2010); Pau Gasol, L.A. Lakers (2009); Kobe Bryant, L.A. Lakers (2008); David Beckham, L.A. Galaxy (2007); Elton Brand, L.A. Clippers (2006); and Matt Leinart, USC football (2005).
The Sportsman of the Year award is given to the local male athlete whose performance and character best exemplified the ideals of sportsmanship during the calendar year, according to the Los Angeles Sports Council.
The honor just adds to the list of Kershaw highlights, made possible by winning the National League pitcher Triple Crown. He tied for the league lead with 21 victories, had an MLB-leading 2.28 ERA and an NL-best 248 strikeouts.
Kershaw was named winner of his first Gold Glove (leading the league with nine pickoffs), the second Dodger to win a Cy Young and Gold Glove in the same year since Orel Hershiser; he won the Warren Spahn Award as the best left-handed pitcher in MLB; won Players Choice outstanding pitcher in the NL; was named to The Sporting News NL All-Star team; was a finalist for the Roberto Clemente Award; and was named Dodgers pitcher of the year by MLB.com.
His wins and ERA were the best for a Dodgers starting pitcher since Hershiser in 1988, and his strikeout total was the best for a Dodger since Sandy Koufax's 317 in 1966. He became the Dodgers' first 20-game winner since Ramon Martinez in 1990. Kershaw went 13-1 over the second half, 12-1 at Dodger Stadium and finished the season with eight consecutive wins.
Kershaw began his third full season in the Major Leagues as the Opening Day starter and ended it by becoming the youngest 20-game winner in the Major Leagues since 20-year-old Dwight Gooden in 1985 and the youngest Dodgers 20-game winner since 21-game winner Ralph Branca in 1947. He went 12-2 against the NL West, 5-0 against the Giants and 4-0 against their ace, two-time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum.
The Clemente nomination was in recognition of his charitable endeavors off the field. Kershaw and his wife, Ellen, just returned from their second trip to Zambia and this past season started the Kershaw's Challenge program to donate $100 for each of his league-leading 248 strikeouts to Arise Africa, an organization that helps to build orphanages in the African nation. The couple recently released a book, "Arise," about their life and charity work together in Africa and will make Southland signing appearances next week.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.