Dinged Corners began the ABCs of Baseball a while back; Dear Readers voted for A, B, and C; thus far we've addressed the AAGPBL and the classic Baseball Card Flipping, Trading and Bubble Gum Book. Now we turn to Roy Campanella.
For coverage of the letter C, we decided to ask daughter Lucy, the linchpin of pretty much everything we do related to baseball and baseball cards. She decided to find a good book about Roy Campanella and summarize it for you. This is her report:
The book I picked is called Campy: The Story of Roy Campanella. The author is David A. Adler. The illustrator is Gordon C. James. My favorite picture is on page 9:
In the beginning: the book discusses what the Los Angeles Coliseum was like in the night. There were more than 90,000 fans. [At a tribute for Campanella in 1959] Also, we see what Mr. Roy Campanella did when he was a child, such as help his dad selling fruits and vegetables, and delivering milk, and playing stickball with his friends.
In the middle: he was called Campy and was a good athlete and played baseball at school. Campy became a catcher like one of his favorite players, Josh Gibson. He ate, dressed, and slept on the bus. On Nov. 20, 1937, one day after he turned 16, he quit school. He played with the Baltimore Elite Giants of the Negro Leagues. Campy played against teams in Puerto Rico, Mexico and Cuba. In March, 1946, he played with the Brooklyn Dodgers, not long after Mr. Jackie Robinson became the first black player in the major league.
In the end: Roy Campanella loved baseball. He was chosen as the National League's all-star catcher eight years in a row!
He didn't pay any attention to the ugly racial shouts from the stands. When one player threw dirt in his face, Campy warned him to stop or be beaten into a pulp. When Campy became the first African-American catcher, he was proud. "But when I'm hitting or catching," he once said, "I don't think about"
"the color of my skin."
He hoped the other fans thought that way too, and most of them did. He knew that one day his baseball career would end and he had a family to support. In 1951, he opened a wine and liquor store in New York. On Jan. 28, 1958, he was leaving it. Campy said he was tired and it was cold and late, but he drove carefully. There were big patches of ice on the road. Campy suddenly lost control! The card wouldn't behave! Campy fought the wheel, the brakes were useless and he hit a telephone pole and the car bounced off and turned over, landing on its right side.
Roy Campanella couldn't walk or even hold a ball! At first, he didn't want anyone to see him. Not even his children. But he stayed strong
and later on Campy even became a spring training coach.
Campy was elected to the baseball Hall of Fame in 1969. He died when he was 71, on June 26, 1993, survived by his wife, children, and millions of fans. "He had the force of personality to influence us all," said Mayor Tom Bradley at his funeral. "Each of us will be bigger, stand taller, and reach a little higher because we knew Roy Campanella."
I recommend this book if: you like baseball, are a fan of Roy Campanella, or lived in New York. Or all three. Summary by: Lucy. The End.
Editor's Note: Here is the officialRoy Campanella website. Photo of Roy Campanella's son showing him baseball cards is from the Life Magazine gallery on Google.