THIS STORY TAKES US BACK TO THE EARLY MORNING HOURS OF JANUARY 28, 1958 IN GLEN COVE, NEW YORK-
The sports world woke up to sad news on this date in 1958. Brooklyn Dodgers catcher Roy Campanella had just closed his Harlem liquor store. He was driving to his Long Island home. His car hit a patch of ice. The vehicle flipped and hit a light pole.
The robust, rock-like catcher’s neck was broken. It wasn’t immediately certain if he would survive.
Campanella pulled through, but he would never walk again. He was paralyzed from the shoulders down. He would regain considerable use of his arms and hands through physical therapy, but he would never play baseball again.
Roy Campanella survived an accident that could have killed him and went on to live a productive life. Still, it’s tempting to imagine what could have been. He probably had a more few productive baseball-playing years in him. He was 36 when the accident happened.
While he only played 10 years, he was one of the greatest catchers of all time:
- 8-time all-star
- 3-time MVP
- 242-home runs
- 856 RBI
- .276 life-time batting average
The Philadelphia native remained employed by the now Los Angeles Dodgers, working with young catchers in the organization. He later became assistant to the director of community relations. Roy Campanella died of a heart attack June 26, 1993 at the age of 71.