Clayton Kershaw presented with the Branch Rickey Award

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Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw already has plenty of awards to fill up a trophy case. The lefty just won his second NL Cy Young award, he took home the NL Gold Glove award for pitchers in 2011, and he won Major League Baseball’s Roberto Clemente Award last year. He was given another award last night — the Branch Rickey Award, for service above self, presented by the Rotary Club of Denver.

Patrick Sullivan of the Denver Post summarized some of the many things Kershaw and his wife Ellen do to give back:

So what have the Kershaws done in their early 20s? They started Kershaw’s Challenge, a foundation that seeks to transform the lives of at-risk children and communities.

Their cornerstone charity, “Arise Africa,” has built and sustained an orphanage in Lusaka, Zambia called “Arise Home.” They are leaving for Zambia on Wednesday.

The orphanage is now home to nine children who came from desperate situations. This year, their goal is to rebuild a community school in the heart of Lusaka, adding five additional classrooms and paying salaries for higher educated faculty. They are also drilling a new water well to bring fresh water to the town. Each year, the Kershaws travel to Africa to visit with the children and bring awareness to the issues of diseases and infections related to HIV and AIDS.

Congratulations to Kershaw on the honor. It’s always nice to hear about players using their stature to go above and beyond the call of duty to give back.

Matt Shepard to be the Tigers new full-time play-by-play guy

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Fox Sports Detroit has named Matt Shepard their new full-time play-by-play guy for Tigers games. Shepard will work with analysts Jack Morris and Kirk Gibson, who will split time.

This is the move in response to former longtime announcers Mario Impemba and Rod Allen getting suspended and later fired following an in-booth altercation in Chicago last September. The two of them, who weren’t exactly friends, reportedly fought over a chair, with conflicting reports of how serious the fight was. An anonymous witness said Allen put Impemba in a choke hold. Allen recently gave an interview in which he denied that and said it was only some pushing and shoving. Either way, it ended their 16-year team-up for Tigers games.

Shepard has worked for Fox Sports Detroit for nearly 20 years, doing fill-in play-by-play for the Tigers — he replaced Impemba for the last few weeks of last season — and for Detroit Pistons games. Gibson has been a part time analyst for the network for the past couple of seasons, splitting time with Allen. Morris has done Tigers, Blue Jays and Twins games over the years, sometimes even splitting time between the Twins and Tigers, which is rather unusual.

Shepard is pretty good at his job. While Tigers fans liked and were familiar with Impemba, there won’t be a falloff in quality. Gibson makes some good analytical points and has a surprisingly sharp and biting sense of humor about him, but his gruff and monotone delivery is not everyone’s cup of tea. You get used to it. Morris is not my cup of tea — he tends to do a lot of the “back in my day” stuff former players often do — but I’m pretty sure he could recite the dictionary on TV in Detroit and a lot of Tigers fans would tune in. Such is life.