Campy by Neil Lanctot
The Two Lives of Roy Campanella

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Synopsis

Neil Lanctot’s biography of Hall of Fame catcher Roy Campanella—filled with surprises—is the first life of the Dodger great in decades and the most authoritative ever published.

Born to a father of Italian descent and an African- American mother, Campanella wanted to be a ballplayer from childhood but was barred by color from the major leagues. He dropped out of school to play professional ball with the Negro Leagues’ Washington (later Baltimore) Elite Giants, where he honed his skills under Hall of Fame catcher Biz Mackey. Campy played eight years in the Negro Leagues until the major leagues integrated. Ironically, he and not Jackie Robinson might have been the player to integrate baseball, as Lanctot reveals. An early recruit to Branch Rickey’s “Great Experiment” with the Brooklyn Dodgers, Campy became the first African-American catcher in the twentieth century in the major leagues. As Lanctot discloses, Campanella and Robinson, pioneers of integration, had a contentious relationship, largely as a result of a dispute over postseason barnstorming.

Campanella was a mainstay of the great Dodger teams that consistently contended for pennants in the late 1940s and 1950s. He was a three-time MVP, an outstanding defensive catcher, and a powerful offensive threat. But on a rainy January night in 1958, all that changed. On his way home from his liquor store in Harlem, Campy lost control of his car, hit a utility pole, and was paralyzed below the neck. Lanctot reveals how Campanella’s complicated personal life (he would marry three times) played a role in the accident. Campanella would now become another sort of pioneer, learning new techniques of physical therapy under the celebrated Dr. Howard Rusk at his Institute of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. As he gradually recovered some limited motion, Campanella inspired other athletes and physically handicapped people everywhere.

Based on interviews with dozens of people who knew Roy Campanella and diligent research into contemporary sources, Campy offers a three-dimensional portrait of this gifted athlete and remarkable man whose second life after baseball would prove as illustrious and courageous as his first.

 

About Neil Lanctot

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Neil Lanctot is an historian who has written extensively about baseball. He is the author of two books, most recently Negro League Baseball: The Rise and Ruin of a Black Institution.  His writing has also appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Baltimore Sun, and several other journals and anthologies.  He lives in West Chester, Pennsylvania.
 
Published March 8, 2011 by Simon & Schuster. 528 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Sports & Outdoors. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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The author of Negro League Baseball (2004) returns with a thorough, generous biography of a Negro League star, catcher Roy “Campy” Campanella (1921–1993), who joined the Dodgers shortly after Jackie Robinson.

Mar 08 2011 | Read Full Review of Campy: The Two Lives of Roy C...

Los Angeles Times

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Neil Lanctot's fine biography traces the Brooklyn Dodgers star's rise through the Negro Leagues to the majors, depicting the realities of pro sports of his era.

Apr 03 2011 | Read Full Review of Campy: The Two Lives of Roy C...

Washington Independent Review of Books

From the 1880s baseball served as the white national pastime and separately became the black national pastime, until Branch Rickey put Organized Baseball on the road to becoming the national pastime.

Apr 11 2011 | Read Full Review of Campy: The Two Lives of Roy C...

Bookmarks Magazine

Based on interviews with dozens of people who knew Roy Campanella and diligent research into contemporary sources, Campy offers a three-dimensional portrait of this gifted athlete and remarkable man whose second life after baseball would prove as illustrious and courageous as his first.

Mar 27 2011 | Read Full Review of Campy: The Two Lives of Roy C...

Baseball America

Lanctot does a terrific job of detailing each of Campanella's 10 big league seasons without getting repetitive (a challenge all baseball biographers face—and many struggle with), even as he winds through several injury-plagued disappointments at the end of his career.

Mar 23 2011 | Read Full Review of Campy: The Two Lives of Roy C...

Baseball Reflections

A blog where old school baseball meets Sabermetrics while covering every MLB team, bringing you breaking MLB news, fantasy baseball insight, product reviews (equipment, books, movies, etc.), & interviews.

Apr 12 2011 | Read Full Review of Campy: The Two Lives of Roy C...

At Home Plate

Following the wisdom that you can't understand a man until you understand where he came from, and assuming you're reading this book because you want to understand something about Roy Campanella, Neil Lanctot takes great effort to snap a picture for you of the fast moving target of America in the ...

Mar 14 2011 | Read Full Review of Campy: The Two Lives of Roy C...

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