It's been quite the year for Chris Taylor.
The super utility player for the Los Angeles Dodgers has had the best season of his eight-year MLB career. Not only was Taylor named to the National League All-Star team for the first time, on Saturday he was named the team's recipient for the 16th annual Roy Campanella award.
The award is given to a Dodger player that best exemplifies the spirit and leadership of Campanella, the Dodgers Hall-of-Fame catcher that became paralyzed from the neck down after breaking his neck in a car accident in Glen Cove, NY on January 28, 1958. The accident ended his playing career, but it did not break his spirit.
All Dodgers players and uniformed personnel voted on the award, and Taylor was presented with the honor in a pregame ceremony on Saturday night. Campanella's daughter, Joni Campanella Roan, and grandson, Cary Bell, were on hand to deliver the award to Taylor.
Local news from across Southern California
The award was originally conceived in 2006, and was given to former Dodgers' shortstop Rafael Furcal in its inaugural year. Since then, the award has been given 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) and Justin Turner (2017, 2019-20).
Taylor is in the final year of his contract with the Dodgers and will become a free agent at the end of the season. The 31-year-old All-Star is hitting .254 with 128 hits, 25 doubles, 20 home runs, and a career-high 73 RBI with 90 runs scored. He also leads the team in stolen bases with 13.
"He plays every at-bat like it's his last," said Dodgers' manager Dave Roberts of Taylor. "The production is no surprise to me. He's a 'glue' guy. He makes my job a lot easier and gives a lot of other guys--his teammates--runaways and other opportunities because of his versatility and unselfishness."
Campanella began his career in the Negro Leagues where he quickly became one the game's best catchers. He joined the Dodgers in 1946 with Class B Nashau in the New England League, making that team the first integrated baseball team in the entire United States.
Once he was called up to the big leagues, Campanella became a three-time NL MVP with the Dodgers, winning the coveted prize in 1951, 1953, and 1955. Campanella was an eight-time All-Star and won the World Series with the Dodgers in 1955.
Over his career, Campanella played in five World Series and held the record for most RBI in a single season with 142 for nine years before it was surpassed by Tommy Davis in 1962.
After his tragic accident left him paralyzed from the neck down, ending his baseball career, Campanella returned to Los Angeles on May 7, 1959, where a Major League record-setting 93,103 fans filled the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on “Roy Campanella Night” for an exhibition game between the Dodgers and Yankees.
He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1969 and was among the first three Dodgers to have their uniform numbers retired alongside 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.