You must be wondering to yourself by now where all of the baseball and Dodger references are. You know I am a huge baseball fan and especially a Dodger fan (I named my daughter Brooklyn!), so you must be confused why the Dodger propaganda has not been flowing since day 1. Well, your wait is over… Ouch, I hope I didn’t just lose readership, although if you are a Giant fan, good riddance. Bear with me, though, this one is a little longer than normal…
On January 28, 1958, while driving home from a liquor store that he owned, Brooklyn Dodgers catcher Roy Campanella was involved in an automobile accident that left him a quadriplegic, his playing career over. While in the hospital he wrote a book (obviously with assistance) chronicling his career, the accident, and his recovery efforts. It was published in 1959 and called “It’s Good To Be Alive.” It is one of my favorite books and certainly one of the most influential, so I would like to share two short passages with you:
Page 297, discussing Roy Campanella Night at the LA Coliseum, an exhibition game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the New York Yankees to honor him, attended by 93,103 people, the largest crowd ever to see an organized baseball game (up until 2008, that is):
“My heart was filled. I felt the people of Los Angeles were paying me a great honor, an honor I hardly deserved. After all, I was no more than a name to most of these people. I had never played a game of baseball in their city. I wasn’t even a Dodger anymore. Thousands upon thousands of them had never seen me play anywhere. Yet they cheered me as if I had just hit the home run that won the pennant for the Los Angeles Dodgers.” (I like this passage because it shows just how kind, caring, and considerate the people of Los Angeles were and, I believe, certainly still can be.)
Page 251, discussing his paralysis:
“True, I’m still paralyzed from the neck down, and I have no feeling at all in my legs, but I can move my arms and shoulders and I have a little movement in my hands. I’ve learned to make the most of everything, and I’m grateful for the little things I can do. You don’t know what you can do until you try it. You’d be surprised what you can do when you have no choice.
“I get around almost as much as I used to. The only inconvenience is when I have to be carried in and out of my bed, my chair, and my car. Otherwise, I live like I used to…
“I may have to live with this a long time… and maybe all my life. But I’ve got so much to live for — my family, my job, myself. I’ve always enjoyed life and I’m going to continue to enjoy life even if I have to do it in a wheel chair for the rest of my life.”
Roy Campanella died June 26, 1993. I had a chance to meet him once; basically, I saw him at Dodger Stadium and before I had a chance to say much I was shooed away by his wife and an usher. But I wish I knew then what I know now about his courage.