Monday, December 04, 2006

The Roy and Roxie Campenella Foundation

July 15, 2006

Ebbets Field may have been a more appropriate locale but Yankee Stadium will do as Roy Campanella and three other big bats became immortalized on postage. Campy, as he was known to teammates and fans alike, joined Mickey Mantle, Hank Greenberg and Mel Ott as the four were immortalized as the Postmaster General, joined by the Hall of Famers’ family members, dedicated the “Baseball Sluggers” commemorative stamps and stamped postal cards. The ceremony took place before a sellout crowd of more than 54 thousand.

Campanella (1921-1993) was the first black catcher in the history of Major League Baseball. Known for his years with the Brooklyn Dodgers, Campanella is remembered as a talented all-around player who hit 242 home runs during his 10 year Major League career, was catcher in five World Series, and named MVP three times.

Born in Philadelphia, Campanella began his career during his teens by playing ball with a semiprofessional Negro League team, the Bacharach Giants. He played for the Baltimore Elite Giants from 1937 to 1945, and was considered one of the best catchers in the Negro Leagues. He also played briefly in the Mexican League.

Campanella began playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1948. During his 1953 MVP season, he hit 41 home runs, chalked up 142 RBIs, scored 103 runs, and batted .312. It was considered one of the best seasons ever recorded by a catcher. With Campanella, the Dodgers won five National League pennants between 1949 and 1956 and won the World Series in 1955.

In 1958 as the Dodgers were preparing to move west to Los Angeles, Campanella was involved in an automobile accident that left Campy paralyzed. Despite the fact that his playing career was over, Campy continued to work for decades as a coach, behind the scenes and in community relations for the Dodgers in Los Angeles. In 1969 he was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

He and his wife Roxie were committed to education and were proud to support their five children through college. In 1991, two years before he died, Campanella and his wife founded The Roy and Roxie Campanella Physical Therapy Scholarship Foundation, which provides support for those living with paraplegia and funds scholarships for students who pursue degrees in physical therapy.

“Dad exemplified courage and athletic talent,” said Joni Roan, one of Campanella’s five children. “Our family is very grateful for this recognition that pays tribute to our father’s life and career. Now his life can be celebrated by millions of new fans.”

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