Mar 05

Spring Training Opening Day

“The crack of the bat! The roar of the crowd! That’s right — baseball’s back!” And I see no better way to celebrate than running this Newsradio clip about Opening Day. Bill McNeal forever …

Dodgers vs. White Sox,
12:05 PM

Dee Gordon, SS
Mark Ellis, 2B
Matt Kemp, CF
Andre Ethier, RF
Juan Rivera, LF
James Loney, 1B
Adam Kennedy, 3B
A.J. Ellis, C
Tony Gwynn Jr., DH
(Chad Billingsley, P)

  • The 100th anniversary of the Ebbets Field groundbreaking was Sunday, and Chris Jaffe put it some context at the Hardball Times.
  • Tweet of the day Sunday: Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. tried to pass the blame to autocorrect for the following:

    Catcher’s dream: Matt Treanor gets to call balls an strikes while bathing Clayton Kershaw in the intrasquad game

  • J.P. Hoonstra has joined the springtime beat coverage of the Dodgers, representing the Los Angeles Newspaper Group (Daily News, etc.). Here’s his notebook from Sunday, led by Clayton Kershaw.
  • Ernest Reyes of Blue Heaven continues to supply us with vintage Dodger clips.
  • More from Reyes: a 1943 photo of Roy Campanella in Mexico.
  • The National League West is previewed by Jay Jaffe and Geoff Young for Baseball Prospectus. It’s not exceedingly pretty.
  • Fangraphs ranks the 2012 Dodger catching the worst in the majors. I still find it hard to believe this possible when your starting catcher has a career .360 on-base percentage in the majors and .406 in the minors.
  • In his spring debut, Arizona pitcher Trevor Bauer exceedingly impressed Keith Law of ESPN.com. More signs that Bauer could have a Kershaw-like effect on the Diamondbacks.
  • Who is the greatest character on The Wire? Alex Pappademas of Grantland sets up a 32-player bracket. The seedings are highly questionable, however.
  • My summary of The Lorax: Good for kids, but disappointing for this here grown-up. No matter where you stand on the Seuss or environmental spectrum, the premise seems stretched beyond what it was meant for. For a new movie that’s truly for all ages, try The Secret World of Arriety.
Jan 08

New Campy bio due out in spring

A new book on Roy Campanella is coming out in March (link via Carson Cistulli of Notgraphs). Sounds like it won’t be pure hagiography, according to the press release:

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.

* * *