Today is the Anniversary of a Sad Day in Baseball History

Today is the Anniversary of a Sad Day in Baseball History

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Today is the Anniversary of a Sad Day in Baseball History

“You were thinking of doing what??…Haha!…Don’t make me laugh!”

I made this quote up for the featured photo above…but it pretty well sums up the defensive prowess of the great catcher, Roy Campanella. Judging by the grimace on the face of the Giant baserunner, Jack Lohrke, I have a hunch he regretted trying to score against Campanella. I’d say Campy literally “flattened” him, and he was out by the old “country mile!” If the third base coach sent him on the play, it was definitely a bad decision!

Sixty years ago today, Janurary 28,1958, Roy Campanella suffered a broken neck when his rented 1957 Chevy hit a telephone pole in an early morning accident on Long Island while driving home from his Harlem liquor store,

As a result of the debilitating accident the 36-year old Dodger catcher was paralyzed from the waist down. With physical therapy, he eventually was able to regain use of his arms and hands. He was able to feed himself, shake hands, and gesture while speaking, but he would require a wheelchair for mobility for the remainder of his life.

Here’s a few words about the career of the great Dodger catcher:

Roy Campanella began his major league career in 1948 with the Brooklyn Dodgers, playing his first game on April 20, 1948. He remained the Dodgers’ regular catcher for ten years through the 1957 season.

Over his career, Campy hit .276 with 242 home runs, 856 RBIs, a .360 on-base percentage, and .500 slugging average. He was an eight-time All-Star (every year between 1949 through 1956), a member of five pennant winners, a World Series champion (1955), a three-time MVP (1951,1953, 1955), and a National League RBI champion (1953).

His 1949 All-Star selection made him one of the first four African-Americans to be honored. (Jackie Robinson, Don Newcombe and Larry Doby were also All-Stars during 1949.). In each of his MVP seasons, he batted more than .300, hit more than 30 home runs and had more than 100 runs batted in. His 142 RBIs during 1953 set a franchise record, and is still the second most in franchise history,

That same year, Campanella hit 40 home runs in games in which he appeared as a catcher, a record that lasted until 1996. Campanella caught three no-hitters during his career: Two by Carl Erskine, and one by Sal Maglie. During his career, he threw out an amazing 57% of potential base stealers, the highest percentage by any catcher in major league history.

In the1955 World Series, Campanella helped Brooklyn win its first-ever championship. After the Dodgers lost the first two games of the World Series, Campanella began Brooklyn’s comeback by hitting a two-out, two-run home run in the first inning of Game 3. The Dodgers won that game, got another home run from Campanella in a Game 4 victory that tied the series, and then went on to win the series in seven games.

Campanella’s #39 has been retired by the Dodgers. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1969.

 Gary Livacari

Photo Credits: All from Google search

Information: Excerpts edited from the Roy Campanella Wikipedia page.

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I'm a baseball historian who also loves to write. My forte is identifying ballplayers in old photos, and my specail interest is the Dead Ball Era.


  1. Richard laureano · January 28, 2018 Reply

    Enjoy the pictures, never saw Campanella play or the Brooklyn Dodgers. i was born in Bklyn 1966, would of love to see them play! Thanks for sharing these pictures.

  2. Paul Doyle · January 30, 2018 Reply

    Campy, Don Newcombe, Walter Alston, Buzzie Bavasi all were part of the Nashua, NH Dodgers in 1946-47.

    Jackie Robinson was assigned to the Montreal Royals in 1946.
    Campy and Newcombe to Nashua. They technically actually were the first blacks to integrate baseball in USA with Robinson playing for. Montreal.

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