Roy Campanella, a.k.a. Campy, was one of the first African-American baseball players to break the color barrier after Jackie Robinson. A mere three years later he became the National League’s Most Valuable Player. He had the respect of legends of the game including Joe DiMaggio who called him “a wizard,” and Ty Cobb who said he was the best catcher in all of baseball. Campanella was on the first Brooklyn Dodgers team to win a World Series and went on to garner two more MVP awards. However, in 1958 Campanella’s career was cut short by a car accident, which left him paralyzed from the neck down. A true testament to his indomitable spirit, Campanella still went on to serve as an inspiration to fellow athletes, fans, the handicapped, and those who never even saw him play. In Neil Lanctot’s new book, CAMPY: The Two Lives of Roy Campanella, the author puts under scrutiny a life not well documented. The exact details concerning Campanella’s accident were unknown, his volatile relationship with Jackie Robinson was often misinterpreted, and his own autobiography was filled with inaccuracies. What really happened to cause Campanella’s injury? How did he live out the remainder of his non-sporting life?
Neil Lanctot, author of CAMPY: The Two Lives of Roy Campanella (Simon & Schuster) and a historian who has written extensively about baseball