Sometimes in the media world they follow their own set of rules. I have always heard that when the legend is more interesting that the truth……..you print the legend. It’s amazing to me with all the technology we have and the ability to delve into information, that we still accept the legend. Todays book takes us deep beyond the legend………
Campy-The Two Lives of Roy Campanella
By:Neil Lanctot-2011 Simon & Schuster
Everyone that reads this blog is enough of a fan to be familiar with Roy Campanella’s Dodger career on the field. His Hall of Fame career speaks for itself and of course the tragic ending to his famed career as well. What I often thought was lacking was an in-depth glimpse in to the man himself and what lied behind the curtain.
Neil Lanctot took a big swing at Roy Campanella, the man, and hit a home run. The book starts out giving an in-depth look at Campanella’s upbringing in Philadelphia. Being from Philadelphia I never realized he was a native son. Perhaps that was my oversight, or maybe something that Campanella would rather forget. You also get a good look at his Negro League career and how it molded him as a player. You can see how these two areas shaped the man that we saw out on the field.
Next, you move on to the Major League portion of Campy’s career and see the struggles he faced both on and off the field. You also get details of how he was being considered for Jackie Robinson’s place in history, breaking the color barrier. You are shown the differences between the two men and how Branch Rickey figured each would fare under such immense pressure. In the end you see why Robinson was the better choice for that job, and how the difference in personalities eventually led to friction between the two men.
Finally you see the actions that led up to Campanella’s career ending accident. You learn a lot of new details that show he may not have been the person we all assumed he was. You see him coping with life after the accident and how it affected those around him. Like I said above, when the legend is more interesting than the truth……print the legend. This is the first time I have read a book that shows Campanella, flaws and all.
The book is well thought out and detailed. If you are a Dodgers fan and like the image you have of Campanella, this might not be the book for you. If you would like to read a book about a man who is as flawed as the rest of us you will really enjoy it. Sometimes you gain some respect when you realize your heroes are regular people with their own personal demons, just like the rest of us.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Simon & Schuster