Roy Campanella was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on November 19,1921.
Growing up in the mean streets of Philadelphia was pretty hard for him and his sister
Doris. Everyday as they walked home from school, they would teased by a group of
white kids, and sometimes even black kids, the kids would call them “Half- Breed”. At
that time they did not know what that meant. He then realized he parents were different
races, his mother being the darker skin and his father being the lighter skin. Roy was the
youngest of four children. When he was seven years old him and his family moved to a
neighborhood called Nicetown. There were few black families that lived in Nicetown.
Roy lived two blocks away from his new school, and everyday after school he
would play stickball with the Italian and Polish kids. There in his new town he received
little discrimination, because there were no street gang, and nobody carried guns or
knives, at this time it was mostly peace and prosperity, until the Great Depression.
At this time he was about 12 years old, his day was now beginning at three o’ clock in the
morning. Roy was now working as a milkman, delivering around his neighborhood, he
was earning 25 cents per day. The money that he earned he gave it all to his mother, who
saved it to buy him a new suit. The following year he helped his older brother Lawrence,
who had a lager route than Roy. By helping out his brother he was earning 50 cents.
The first time that Roy played baseball he fell in love with the game. The first glove that he ever had, it was a lost glove that he found while walking home. Roy’s father did not like Roy to play baseball because he was scared he would get hurt, and one day while he was playing he got hurt. His father got very upset with him and told him that he wouldn’t play the game again. At the age of 15 Roy was catching for the black Nicetown Giants, and while he was catching, he was asked to catch for an all-white American Legion team.
In 1942 the 20-year-old Roy Campanella was playing for the Elite Giants of the Negro Leagues. During the 1942 season Roy was invited to play in an all-star benefit game in Cleveland that was going to pay him two hundred dollars. But the Giants owner refused to give Roy the time off. Roy and one of his teammates went anyways, but when they got back they were fined two hundred and fifty dollars, and were benched for a week.
Roy received a telegram from a Mexican League, which told him he would be earning one hundred dollars a week to finish the season with them, Roy accepted their offer and finished the season with the Mexican League. As soon as he left the Elite Giants needed a catcher, Roy didn’t want to play for them so he and the manager made a deal, the deal was if he would cancelled the fine and be paid three thousand dollars for the next season. At the Age of 23, he had been playing professional baseball for 8 years. After the 1945 season, he was asked to play for an all-star team in a five game series against major league stars.
During one game of the series Campanella was asked to talk to the president and general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers for a meeting. During the meeting Roy was asked by Branch Rickey, if he wanted to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Roy did not take the offer right there and then, he had to think about it. So, meanwhile he was writing letters to keep in touch with Branch Rickey. On March 1 he received a letter from
Mr. Rickey that said to be in his office on March 10 at 10 o’clock.
He arrived at his office with another man, his name was Don Newcomb, he was a pitcher. Roy played for the minor league Dodger Organization. On April 1 Roy suited up for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Campanella was the third black player to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers. In 1958, after completing 20 years in the major leagues he got into a car accident that ended his career as a professional baseball player. Campanella returned to the Dodgers for 34 years to be an instructor and coach, inspiring players and fans alike with his cheerful disposition, his courage, and his expert knowledge of the game. He was inducted into the baseball hall of fame in 1969.
What I liked about this book was that he grew up with a poor family and lived in the ghetto part of Philadelphia and became on of the best catchers in major league baseball, it gives me courage and lets me believe I to can do it.
What I didn’t like about the book was when he was little he got teased because he was black. I also didn’t think it was fair for his career to end so quickly due to the car accident.
I would recommend this book to you because if you are one to be encouraged by someone who is low class that comes up and becomes the rich guy, and one of the top rated baseball players in the major leagues.
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