Roy Campanella was a rock behind the dish for the Brooklyn Dodgers from 1948-1957. His father, John, was the son of Sicilian Immigrants and his mother, Ida, was African American. Therefore, he was effectively prohibited from playing Major League baseball until Jackie Robinson broke through the color barrier in 1947. Campy began playing Negro League baseball in 1937 at the age of 16, for the Elite Giants. The following year the team moved to Baltimore, and he became one of its star players.
Campanella is widely considered to be among the greatest catchers of all time, despite arriving to MLB eight or more years after his vaunted abilities should have gotten him there. And if not for his playing career ending several years prematurely because of the serious automobile accident that left him paralyzed, it is easy to project statistics and honors that would have elevated Campy to the pinnacle of his profession. In his relatively short ten-year career, Campanella won three MVPs, played in eight All-Star games, and led Brooklyn to its first and only World Series Championship in 1955 after many heartbreaking attempts. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1969 and ranks 50th in the 1999 Sporting News list of the “100 Greatest Baseball Players.”
Presented here is Campy’s 1957 game-used catcher’s mitt. The Wilson professional model 230CL Roy Campanella model displays evidence of excellent use. Evident wear can be seen in the pocket, heel, web crotch, and throughout the body, yet the mitt remains structurally sound and well preserved. The mitt is accompanied by a letter from Carl Furillo Jr. whose father was teammates with Campy from 1948 until the end of his career in 1957. Given that the star catcher’s tragic accident occurred right before the Dodgers’ move to Los Angeles in1958, this is could very well be the last catcher’s mitt he ever used.
LOA from Carl Furillo Jr. Additional LOA from PSA/DNA (Eskin/Taube).