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Baseball Card Hall of Fame

Roy Campanella 1952 #314

by William Szczepanek

1952 Roy Campanella #314The 1952 card of Roy Campanella was his first in the Topps major sets.  While he started his major league career in 1948 and played through 1957, he started playing in the Negro Leagues in the 1930s. In the early 1940s he played in the Mexican League. Known as "Campy" he is considered one of the best catchers of all time.

Campanella caught for outstanding Brooklyn teams in the 1940s and 1950s.  He was built in the Yogi Berra mold, squat and stout. He was very light on his feet and very agile for his build.  He handled the elite Dodger pitching staff with aplomb. He was one of the “The Boys of Summer” who won National League pennants in 1949, 1952, 1953, 1955, and 1956, narrowly missed two others, and reached Brooklyn's baseball history apex with its only World Series triumph in 1955. Roy Campanella was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writers in 1969 with 79.41% of the vote.

Campanella won the MVP award 3 times in 5 years. In his best season of 1953, he hit .312, scored 103 runs and had 142 RBI, which led the league. He won the MVP award in the National League 3 times: in 1951, 1953, and 1955. In each of these seasons, he batted over .300, hit over 30 home runs and had over 100 runs batted in. In 1953, Campanella hit 40 home runs in games in which he appeared as a catcher, a record now belongs to Javy Lopez with 42. He was an All Star every year from 1949 through 1956.

1957 Roy Campanella #210In early 1958 Campanella suffered a broken neck in an automobile accident.  The accident left him paralyzed. Campanella appeared on a television sports show regularly after his automobile accident.  On many occasions he was asked if he would ever play again.  His attitude was positive and hopeful, but as time went on reality sunk in. He would never play ball again.

"In the days when he played, catching was basically a white position…. Catching was a thinking position that most of America didn't think people like Campanella could handle. He broke the mold. Because of the mentality of the country, the mentality of baseball, to be black and an MVP meant he had to be head and shoulders above anybody else in the league." — Dusty Baker

"I never want to quit playing ball. They'll have to cut this uniform off of me to get me out of it." — Roy Campanella

The 1957 Topps card was his last and I think his best.

You can check out a Roy Campanella's statistics at Baseball Reference.

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