Roy Campanella Walter O'Malley The Official Website

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Remembering A Hero: A Tribute to Roy Campanella

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Three specific seasons stand out in his Dodger career — 1951, 1953 and 1955. In each of those years, Campy was honored with the National League Most Valuable Player Award. In 1951, Campanella batted .325 with 33 home runs and 108 RBI; in 1953, he set single-season records for catchers with 41 home runs and 142 RBI, tops in the National League, while batting .312. In the Dodgers’ World Championship season of 1955, once again Campy distinguished himself as a leader with a .318 average, 32 home runs and 107 RBI.
With the broad shoulders and steady hands of Campanella adroitly guiding the way behind the plate, Dodger pitching staffs led the National League in earned run average in 1955 (3.68) and 1957 (3.35).
In his stellar 10-year career, Campanella batted .276 with 1,161 hits, 242 home runs and 856 RBI. Six times he led National League catchers in putouts.
Yet, the character of the 5-foot-9 ½, 200-pound Campanella should not be measured in statistics alone. He was a rock behind the plate, respected by his opponents, revered by his teammates and a man of inspiration in the clubhouse. His unique storytelling style led to one of the most famous areas of Dodgertown, the longtime spring training home of the Dodgers in Vero Beach, Florida, where “Campy’s Bullpen” was established. This was a bench just outside the old Dodger kitchen and clubhouse where Campy would spin yarns, talk baseball and about life with captivated young players and veterans alike.
Walter O’Malley succeeded Rickey as Dodger President on October 26, 1950. With such high regard for the graceful Campanella and the catcher’s leadership qualities, O’Malley informed him in 1953 that when his playing career was over, Campy would begin his managerial career with a guaranteed position in the Dodger minor league system.
On March 4, 1954, with Campanella in the driver’s seat and O’Malley as a passenger, Roy drove a car onto the playing field at Dodgertown during a Dodger intra-squad game, honking the horn and bringing the action to a standstill, just as George “Shotgun” Shuba had doubled down the right field line and pulled into second base in the fourth inning. The game was interrupted as Campy wanted to show his proud teammates the car he had purchased for $7,000. After a few minutes and some photographs, Campy and O’Malley drove off the field and play resumed (with Campy returning to the field to serve as “batboy” for the game).
When tragedy struck the life of Campanella, it was O’Malley who would assist him and his family in unique ways.

Brooklyn Dodger center fielder Duke Snider, known as “The Duke of Flatbush,” receives admiration from friends and teammates Roy Campanella and first baseman Gil Hodges.

A quintet of Brooklyn Dodgers, four of whom were eventually inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, made significant contributions to the game and helped shape the course of Dodger history. Shown from left to right are Duke Snider, Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, “The Captain” Pee Wee Reese (all in the Hall of Fame) and Gil Hodges.

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