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.
More on Roy Campanella
United Press International (UPI), January 29, 1958
Associated Press (AP), January 29, 1958
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA • TODAY – NOVEMBER 11TH – IN BASEBALL HISTORY: Fernandomania continued into the post-season on this date in 1981. Los Angeles Dodger phenom pitcher Fernando Valenzuela won the National League Cy Young award as the league’s best pitcher. He was the first rookie to win the award.
Valenzuela displayed excellent composure, enthusiasm and ability though he was only 20-years old.
Valenzuela could hit too. He hit .250 with 7 RBI in his rookie year. His career batting average was .200 with 10 home runs and 84 RBI.
Valenzuela finished the ’81 season with a 13 – 7 won-loss record and a 2.48 ERA (earned run average). He beat out established stars Tom Seaver, Steve Carlton and Nolan Ryan for the Cy Young award. Valenzuela also won the National League Rookie-of-the-year award.
Valenzuela could hit too. He hit .250 with 7 RBI in his rookie year. His career batter average was .200 with 10 home runs and 84 RBI .
Fernandomania lasted 17 years. During that time Valenzuela won 173 games and lost 153. That’s today – November 11th – in baseball history.
“Fairy Tale Ending to Fairy Tale season,” by Mike Littwin, Los Angeles Times, November 12, 1981
1981 Post-season awards
AUGUST 3, 1959 | LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA • The Major League Baseball all-star game was such a hit since it was introduced in Chicago in 1933, many people thought, ‘Let’s play two all-star games.’ For four seasons that’s what was done.
A second MLB all-star game was played on this date in 1959. Dual classics were the norm for four seasons – 1959, 1960, 1961 and 1962. The American League won this contest in front of 55,105 fans at the Los Angeles Coliseum, avenging a National League victory on July 7th at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh. The LA Coliseum (predominantly a football .dium) was the home of the Los Angeles Dodgers, who came to the west coast in 1958, while Dodger Stadium was being built.
The pitchers of record for this second mid-summer classic were the starters. Jerry Walker of the Baltimore Orioles won it for the American League. Dodger Don Drysdale, pitching in front of his hometown fans, was the loser for the National League.
Jerry Walker was a 20-year old rising star with an 8-4 record at the time of the second all-star game. He never became the kind of star this all-star game foreshadowed. Walker never won more than eight games in any season and finished his eight year major league career with a record of 34 and 44.
Getting back to the August, 1959 all-star game, the highlights were LA Dodgers the introductions of superstars Stan Musial and Ted Williams who were both reaching the ends of their careers. Both would end up in the Hall of Fame on the first ballot.
The Associated Press, August 4, 1959, Los Angeles, CA
1959 All-star games
OTHER STUFF – An excellent series of articles on Midwest Ballparks in Chicago Magazine by Jeff Ruby: “Playing the Fields”
*2002 | PHOENIX, ARIZONA – The Los Angles Dodgers‘ Shawn Green hit his 8th and 9th home run in a week on this date in 2002 – at the time, a new National League record.
Green hit 4 home runs two days earlier (May 23rd).
Two days before that he hit a pair of home runs.
He hit one on May 24th.
The two he hit against the Arizona Diamondbacks on this date added up to nine for the week.
Shawn Green was born in Des Plaines, Illinois on November 10, 1972. His family later moved to California where he attended Tustin High School in Tustin, California. He received a scholarship to Stanford University in 1991, but was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays the same year.
He broke into the major leagues with Toronto in 1993 at age 20. At the end of the 2007 season Green had 328 career home runs.
May 25, 2002 box score/stats
The Associated Press, Phoenix, AZ, May 26, 2002
Shawn Green background