Hall of Famers

Roy Campanella C 39

Philadelphia, PA
Woodland Hills, CA
Years with Dodgers:
Inducted into Hall of Fame:

One of the game’s most likeable, knowledgeable and talented players, Roy Campanella was a major contributor to the Dodgers from 1948-57. The skilled, stocky catcher at 5-foot-8, 200 pounds was an eight-time National League All-Star and three-time league MVP (1951, 1953, 1955). In 1953, Campanella drove in a N.L. best 142 RBI, while setting a single-season record for catchers with 41 home runs. He starred on the 1955 Dodger World Championship team, as well as five pennant-winning Dodger clubs (1949, 1952, 1953, 1955, 1956). Much more than a force on the field with his pinpoint accurate throwing arm, “Campy” was a good-natured rock in the clubhouse who was revered by pitchers and appreciated by his teammates. He was well known for spinning yarns and giving friendly counsel to his fellow players at “Campy’s Bullpen” outside the old kitchen at Dodgertown in Vero Beach, FL. Before African-American players were able to play in the major leagues, first with the Dodgers, Campanella had spent a decade starring for the Baltimore Elite Giants of the old Negro Leagues. Along with Jackie Robinson, Campanella played the first Dodger exhibition game at newly-opened Dodgertown on March 31, 1948, a historic day as the Dodgers became Major League Baseball’s first fully-integrated Spring Training site in the South.

Prior to the 1958 season, Campanella’s career was tragically cut short when he was paralyzed in an automobile accident in New York. The car he was driving slid off an icy highway and went head-on into a light pole. Walter O’Malley, who immediately visited him at Glen Cove Community Hospital in Long Island, NY, assisted Campanella with his mounting medical bills and later secured a position for him in the Dodger organization. On May 7, 1959, O’Malley and the New York Yankees arranged for a “Roy Campanella Night” tribute exhibition game to be played at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. A then major league record crowd of 93,103 attended the game and saluted the highly-regarded Campanella, even though he had never played in Los Angeles. In later years, Campy helped to coach and advise Dodger catchers, especially at Vero Beach and he worked in the Community Relations Department. Campanella helped mentor rookie catcher Mike Piazza, who later became a fellow Hall of Famer in the Class of 2016.  Campanella described his relationship with O’Malley as “a true pioneer who to me was like a father when I first came into the Dodger organization. He stood by me, and after my injury he stood by me and helped me through all of my crises.”