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Campanella / A Glimpse Into His Life

June 17, 1985|BOB OATES

Born: Nov. 19, 1921, in Nicetown, North Philadelphia, Pa.

First Job: Delivering milk for 25 cents a day.

Family: One of five children of an Italian immigrant and a black mother. His father was a fruit and vegetable peddler who later owned several grocery stores.

Career: Brooklyn Dodgers' catcher 1948-57.

Best Year: 1953--caught 144 of 154 Dodger games; 162 hits; batted .312; hit 41 home runs.

Busiest Day: Caught two doubleheaders in one day (Negro League record).

Historical Footnote: In 1949, Jackie Robinson, Larry Doby and Campanella were the first three black players in the All-Star Game. Campanella made the National League All-Star roster the next seven times.

Most Valuable Player (National League): 1951, 1953, 1955.

Hall of Fame: 1969.

Most Characteristic Quote: "You have to be a man to be a big league ballplayer, but you have to have a lot of little boy in you, too."

Children: By previous marriage--Roy II, Joni and John (now in California), Tony and Ruth (in New York).

Former New York Residence: On (J.P.) Morgan's Island, off Glen Cove, L.I.

New York Toys: An aquarium room full of tropical fish; a train room with 51 Lionel electric trains, and a 41-foot yacht (cabin cruiser).

New York and California Hobby: Growing roses.

Accident: Jan. 28, 1958. A team of seven surgeons, working four hours and 20 minutes at a Glen Cove hospital, saved him after he had been lifted out of the car with a broken neck.

Present Employer: Dodger President Peter O'Malley, Community Services Dept.

Married: Roxie Doles on May 4, 1961. Jim Murray, Times columnist: "The job she has done with Roy Campanella and family marks her the greatest relief pitcher of all time in my book."

Biggest Thrill: Campanella Night at the Coliseum on May 7, 1959, when baseball's all-time record crowd, 93,103, "honored me at an exhibition game (Dodgers-Yankees). As Pee Wee Reese was pushing my wheelchair out to the diamond, I pointed to the 93 on the scoreboard and told him, 'I finally made it. That's my uniform number turned backwards.' " The Dodgers have since retired Campanella's 39.

Biggest Regret: "I promised Mr. (Walter) O'Malley that I'd last until opening night in Dodger Stadium. I'm sorry to say I didn't."

Place in History: Branch Rickey on bringing Jackie Robinson and Roy Campanella to the Dodgers in 1947-48, as quoted by Jules Tygiel, author of "Baseball's Great Experiment": "Integration in baseball started pubic integration on trains, in Pullmans, in dining cars, in restaurants in the South long before the issue of public accommodation became daily news."

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