Roy Campanella was a stout catcher who won 3 M.V.P. awards and played 10 years for the Brooklyn Dodgers from 1948 to 1957. Reading this it sounds like just another great baseball player from many years ago. However Roy Campanella was much more than that to this once little boy. Roy was in a car accident on January 28, 1958 which left him a quadripledgic. This man overcame his disability. just like he overcame the color barrier as one of the first African baseball players to play major league baseball and the first catcher.
During Roy’s rehabilitation this once very strong man’s goal was to lift 5 pounds and brought his former teammates to tears. He was determined with the help of physio and occupational therapists to have small victories in overcoming his disabilties. This story as well as my dad’s admiration for the story of the Brooklyn Dodgers became the inspiration for a letter to the now Los Angeles Dodgers and Roy Campanella.
The year was 1983 and I was 9 years old. I sent in a letter and a request for a an autographed picture of Roy Campanella. I got so much more as I received a short note to stay in front of the ball and mix my pitches. This was gold as Mr. Campanella had some use of his hands and arms and this would have taken great effort. I still have the autographed photo and letter 30 years later and admire the man who was the All Star catcher and a man who overcame his disability.
Yes I did take Roy’s advice on mixing my pitches and throwing strikes. He inspired me to never give up with the letter and picture. My dad is and has always been my hero for seeing the strength in a person like Roy Campanella to encourage me. My dad’s love and determined spirit also made me try my best and work smart despite my own disability.
In John 11:4 it says; Jesus said, ” This sickness will not end in death. No it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it”. This was the story of Lazarus. I also see similarities in Roy Campanella ‘s story in this scripture and my own journey. Thanks dad for telling stories of the Brooklyn Dodgers and a great man of faith and courage. Roy Campanella passed away in 1993 but inspired so many to never give up. Every day is precious you never know who you will inspire and encourage by your words and actions.
By Ty Stingel