vrijdag 17 mei 2013

Campy: the Two Lives of Roy Campanella: Review

Behind Jackie Robinson an army of black players was waiting on their chance to play in the Major League. Some of them already played in the farm systems of the big teams. One of them was Roy Campanella, the future MVP catcher of the Brooklyn Dodgers. 'Campy, the two lives of Roy Campanella' by Neil Lanctot tells the story of Roy from his childhood days in Philadelphia, always looking for a game of street baseball. His teenage years when he started to play in organized games. His rise through the ranks in the Negro League. The years behind the plate for the Dodgers and the tragic car accident which ended his active baseball playing career. Neil Lanctot has made this a very easy to read, enjoyable book that makes you love that somewhat overweight catcher. Every year you hope the Dodgers will win that World Series title, although you know it was only in 1955 when they finally did. My hat off to Lanctot for keeping the suspense and making this a gripping read. One of the most interesting things is the difference between Jackie Robinson and Campy. Jackie, who went to UCLA, was the guy who broke through the color barrier first and always stayed serious about equal rights. Campy, who grew up poor and did not go to college and quit school to follow his heart and play baseball, always thought himself lucky to be playing in the majors. This eventually leads to a falling out between the two. Because this ia not an autobiography the writer can take some distance from his subject. At times Lanctot is critical about Campanella. For instane how he had a knack for changing his stories or beef them up to make them more interesting. Never with bad intentions, though. Campy wanted to entertain! The part about Campy's revalidation is much shorter. But it's interesting to read how the always smiling Campanella also had his lesser moments, but he always tried to keep them to himself. He became a speaker for the handicapped and even, at long last, a voice for civil rights, this to the delight of Jackie Robinson. Still, most of the 428 pages are about the happy, smiling, catching Campy. He once said: "You have to be a man to be a big league ballplayer, but you have to have a lot of little boy in you too'. That is Campanella spot on. He is and will always be one of my favorite Dodgers.

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