Roy Campanella Essay - Critical Essays

Gene Schoor


Schoor’s biography is typical of the genre of sports stories from the 1950’s era. The book opens with Campanella having reached the major leagues, returns to his early years as a youth in Philadelphia, and then follows the man through his career. In this respect, Roy Campanella is similar to many other sports biographies.

The difference with this book, however, is the nature of the athlete under study. Campanella was a rare individual. Athletes often portray themselves as playing for the love of sport, not for money. In many instances, the transparency of this statement is readily apparent. In Campanella’s case, however, he truly loved the sport, his team, and the fans of Brooklyn. This love was returned in kind; Campanella was arguably the most popular member of the Brooklyn team. Robinson was respected but rarely loved, and only Gil Hodges approached Campanella in the affection of teammates and fans.

Schoor brings across this feeling in his book, but in a nonsentimental manner. Campanella did not exhibit an athletic appearance: He was a relatively short, stocky man who could almost blend in with the crowd. Despite encountering discrimination, most clearly in the eight years that he was forced to spend with the Elite Giants if he wished to play professional baseball, Campanella rarely spoke out. In this respect, he was clearly set apart from teammate Robinson. What he did bring to the sport day after day was a smile and the determination to do his best despite injuries or the attitudes of others....

(The entire section is 630 words.)