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record setting catcher
Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on November 19, 1921.
Played for the Baltimore Elite Giants of the Negro Leagues from 1937 to 1942.
Made his Major League debut on April 20, 1948, with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Played with the Dodgers until 1957.
In 1953, he set single-season records for catchers with 41 home runs and a National League-best 142 RBI's. His home run record lasted until 1996, when it was broken by Todd Hundley.
His career was ended by an auto accident on January 28, 1958 that left him paralyzed from the chest down. Although physical therapy eventually allowed him to regain use of his arms and hands, he was confined to a wheelchair for the remainder of his life.
Campanella watches a Yankees game
from the stands with his wife and son.
[His final major league game, on September 29, 1957, was also the last major league game ever played at Brooklyn's Ebbets Field.]
Campanella played in a total of 1,215 games, 1,183 of them as a catcher. He was a member of five World Series teams (1949, 1952, 1953, 1955, 1956), and eight All-Star Team teams (1949-1956). He led National League catchers in putouts six times, hit 242 home runs as a catcher, and was the National League MVP in 1951, 1953, and 1955.
In May 1959, the Dodgers (by now located in Los Angeles) played an exhibition game against the New York Yankees at the Coliseum in his honor. The game's attendance of more than 93,000 remains the largest crowd ever to attend a Major League Baseball Game.
Campanella was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1969, becoming the second player of African-American heritage to be so honored, after Jackie Robinson.
On June 4, 1972, the Dodgers retired his uniform number 39, alongside Jackie Robinson's 42 and Sandy Koufax's 32.
In 1978, he moved to California and remained active in the Dodgers' Community Relations department. He also served as a mentor and adviser to young catchers in the Dodgers organization.
Roy and Roxie Campanella founded The Roy and Roxie Campanella Physical Therapy Scholarship Foundation in 1991. The foundation provides equipment, education, information, and support for those living with paraplegia, as well as scholarships to students pursuing a degree in the field of physical therapy.
Roy Campanella died in Woodland Hills, California, on June 26, 1993. He is interred in the Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills Cemetery, Los Angeles.
In 1999, Campanella was ranked number 50 on The Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players, and was a nominee for the Major League Baseball All-Century Team.
He was honored by a U.S. postage stamp in 2006.
In September 2006, the Dodgers announced creation of The Roy Campanella Award, which will be awarded by the club's players and coaches to the Dodger who best exemplifies Campanella's spirt and leadership.
Roy Campanella had five children with his first wife, Ruthe. He was married to Roxie Doles from 1963 to his death; the couple had no children. Roxie died in 2004.
Campanella was the author of It's Good to be Alive, a book which details his journey back from his car accident. The book was made into a television movie by Michael Landon in 1974; Campanella was portrayed by Paul Winfield.
The Official Site of Roy Campanella www.roycampanella.com
Robinson Library >> Baseball >> Biography
This page was last updated on June 25, 2018.