If Jackie Robinson was the heart of the Dodger teams of the late 1940s and early 1950s, Roy Campanella, the Brooklyn backstop, was its backbone. A powerful man with a powerful will, he won a trio of National League MVP honors in the 10 seasons before his Major League career, which began late because of his skin color, ended early as a result of a car crash. Campy's autobiography, originally published in 1959, is as gritty as the Hall of Famer was. It weaves its way from the Negro Leagues to the Majors, then digs in to detail the catcher's post-crash rehabilitation with honest inspiration.
From Publishers Weekly
Originally published in 1959, the year after the automobile accident that transformed him from a Hall-of-Fame baseball player to a quadriplegic, Campanella's long out-of-print autobiography nonetheless packs more uplift than any inspirational sports bio (the title says it all). Campy's refusal to succumb in to self-pity is an apt demonstration of the grittiness and self-determination that took him from 15-year-old Negro League catcher to color-barrier pioneer to bona fide major-league star. And yet, read against the backdrop of baseball's current labor unrest, his sunny outlook and unshakable faith seem naive. Campanella was, for example, used by his team's management to infiltrate the Negro Leauges to make sure black players they signed weren't too "risky" (something that had nothing to do with their on-field talent) and to break the color line in the American Association, at a time when he could have been playing in the major leagues. Although admitting "confusion" about his standing as a black man in the Dodgers' organization, he nonetheless is gushingly grateful toward his employers-an attitude both irritating and, as when he seeks advice from Al Campanis, deeply ironic (Campanis was the Dodger exec who said on Nightline that he truly believed blacks lack "certain necessities" to hold management jobs in baseball). Campanella's descriptions of his efforts to rebound from the accident-circumstances that might have crushed a lesser spirit-are far better, rescuing the book from the realm of sports cliche.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.