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Campy: The Two Lives of Roy Campanella Hardcover – March 8, 2011

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; First Edition edition (March 8, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416547045
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416547044
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #645,309 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Considered by many to be one of the greatest catchers in baseball history, Roy "Campy" Campanella is as interesting for what he did off the field as for his accomplishments within the baselines. And Lanctot, who has written extensively on the Negro Leagues, does justice to the tale. Born in 1921 in Philadelphia to a Sicilian father and African-American mother, Campanella saw his love for baseball pay off at an early age when he joined a club in the Negro Leagues at age 15. His early baseball years, which also took him to Mexico and Cuba, not only gave him exposure to the ugly racism of the time but also the experience that he needed for the Brooklyn Dodgers to sign him in 1946. From there, Campanella won the MVP award three times and led the Dodgers to an emotional World Series win in 1945 after so many previous failures against the Yankees. Lanctot truly captures the reader by delving well past the statistics, analyzing the rocky relationship with teammate Jackie Robinson and the horrific car accident in 1958 that left him paralyzed. Lanctot paints Campanella as an extremely likable person, yet doesn't hold back when speaking about subjects like Campanella's failed marriages and infidelity. Impeccably researched, it's a defining book on "the only person in baseball history about whom absolutely no one had a bad thing to say." (Apr.)
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From Booklist

Dodger catching great Roy Campanella was born to an Italian American father and an African American mother in Philadelphia in 1921. The round, affable boy fell in love with baseball and was playing in the Negro Leagues at 15. Lanctot spins out Campy's story in exhaustive (occasionally exhausting) detail. Nearly every game he played is covered, and his tangled relationship with Jackie Robinson--friends, enemies, wary supporters--is treated with nuance. Campy's extraordinary abilities as a catcher are not only described but illustrated with anecdotes from specific games and seasons. Although Lanctot writes with a novelist's energy, sometimes the narrative veers into sentimentality, and he tends to soften such negatives as Campy's relations with his wives and neglect of some of his children. On the other hand, the man's courage in living fully a wheelchair-bound life after the car crash that ended his career makes a compelling tale (Campy's experience led to much-improved treatment for quadriplegics). Despite the extensive detail, Campy remains a bit elusive, beyond the captivating smile, the chirpy voice, and the great baseball instincts. --GraceAnne A. DeCandido

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Customer Reviews

I would recommend this book to anyone that enjoys baseball history.
Josh H.
Author Neil Lanctot has thoroughly researched this new book on former Brooklyn Dodgers' catcher Roy Campanella.
Bill Emblom
It begins with his young days at the age of 15 playing in NNL for the Elites up to the end of a great career.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Bill Emblom on March 14, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Author Neil Lanctot has thoroughly researched this new book on former Brooklyn Dodgers' catcher Roy Campanella. Wherever possible the author interviewed former players such as Carl Erskine, Rocky Bridges, Bobby Bragan, Gene Hermanski, Monte Irvin, Andy Pafko, and several others. Teammates such as Clem Labine, Preacher Roe, and Johnny Podres died before he was able to conduct an interview. Other Dodger stalwarts passed on much prior to this time. Writers such as Roger Kahn, Stan Isaacs, and Rachel Robinson (widow of Jackie) were also interviewed. One well-known teammate chose not to be interviewed because he had been misquoted too often in the past while the son of another former Dodger said his father now charges $5,000 an hour to be interviewed.

Roy began his professional career with the Washington Elite Giants in 1937 and then continued on with the team when they moved to Baltimore the following year. Campy was blessed to have a wonderful mentor in Biz Mackey who provided him with the encouragement he needed. Later on Roy credited catcher Mike Sandlock, who later went on to play for the Philadelphia Phillies, for teaching him the finer points of catching. Sandlock had a nondescript major league career, but he left his mark on Campanella.

After spending time at both Nashua, New Hampshire, and Montreal in the Dodgers' minor league system Author Lanctot provides considerable detail regarding Campanella's career with the Dodgers. Campy won the National League's MVP award in the alternate years of 1951, 1953, and 1955. After suffering through a tough season in 1954 due to a hand injury he came back with a strong year again in 1955 while many thought Duke Snider should have won the award instead.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Joseph C. Sweeney on May 1, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A treasure for all baseball fans, "Campy" is fascinating from start to finish. Very highly recommended.

Campanella was no saint, but a good, simple man who lived in amazing times and led a wonderful life. Unquestionably one of the greatest catchers ever, Campanella's career was shortened by, at first, racism, and then ultimately by a tragic car accident. His Brooklyn Dodger years provide the meat of the book, but there is much here to learn, even for fans who have, like myself, read all the Dodger books through the years.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Barry Sparks VINE VOICE on April 19, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Although Roy Campanella was a three-time MVP (1951, 1953, and 1955) and feared linchpin of the Brooklyn Dodgers, it seems he is often overshadowed by Jackie Robinson, Duke Snider and other teammates.

Author Neil Lanctot does an excellent job of putting his career and contributions in perspective in this thoroughly researched and well-written book, which also shatters a number of myths, many of which Campy helped create.

Campanella joined the Bacharach Giants in the Negro Leagues in 1937 as a 15-year-old catcher for $25 a month. Campy refined his skills in the Negro Leagues under the tutelage of catching great Biz Mackey. He played for the Washington Elite Giants and the Baltimore Elite Giants and was named the MVP in the 1940 East-West All-Star Game at age 19. After his stint in the Mexican League in 1942, he said, "I knew I could make it in the majors."

The first third of the book covers Campy's career before he made his major league debut with the Dodgers on April 20, 1948.

The fact that Jackie Robinson was the first black in the majors instead of Campy seemed to be a source of resentment and conflict between the two. Campy had spent the 1946 season with Nashau and the 1947 season with Montreal, ignoring the Jim Crow rules, racial taunts and pressures on him without complaining or losing his cool. He showed he had the disposition, guts and talent to succeed in the majors.

Campy came into his own during the 1949 World Series when he earned the praises of his childhood heroes Bill Dickey and Mickey Cochrane. Dickey said, "Campanella is one of the smoothest receivers of his generation, has an excellent arm and is strong with the bat."

Lanctot chronicles the Dodgers' disappointing seasons in 1950 and 1951.
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Roy "Campy" Campanella was not only the MVP of the National League while playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1951, 1953 and 1955... but he was also an MVP in life off of the field as well. This wonderfully written and meticulously researched book takes the reader through Campy's childhood as the son of an African American woman and a white Father of Italian descent. One thing that never changed throughout Campy's entire life was his childlike glee of playing baseball. From his early years on the streets of Philadelphia where it became apparent very early on that school was of little importance to Campy... baseball was already....and would continue to be... the greatest joy in his life. From his pre-teen years when his talents led him to playing with older boys and men... to him becoming a professional in the Negro Leagues at the age of *FIFTEEN*. (He very well may have been the youngest player in Negro League history.) The author chronicles Campanella's rise from Negro League wunderkind, catching innumerable games that many times included doubleheader after doubleheader. When Campy signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers his signing came right on the heels of the signing of Jackie Robinson which broke baseballs "color barrier". It is hinted numerous times that if Campy had better understood the subterfuge that the "Old Mahatma" Branch Rickey was throwing out in his earliest discussions with Campy... Campy may have been the one to break the color line. One of the saddest and most explored portions of not only Campy's life... but the history of the Brooklyn Dodgers... baseball... and race relations in the United States... was the complex and changing relationship between Robinson and Campanella over their lifetimes.

At the beginning of their careers they were best friends, like brothers.
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