Last night’s Dodger game, while sidetracked by Manny Ramirez news, marked the 50th anniversary of the spectacular night at the Coliseum when Roy Campanella was embraced by the fans of Los Angeles — 93,000-some showed up, lit a flame and showed their appreciation for the catcher who never got to play again after his January, 1958 car accident in Brooklyn that left him paralyzed.
Vin Scully even recounted during the Thursday telecast how the Dodgers actually played a day game in San Francisco on May 7, 1959, beating the Giants 2-1. They then flew home to play the exhibition against the New York Yankees, who had the day off but the night before played in Kansas City. The Dodgers actually flew back to San Francisco to continue the series against the Giants the next day.
The exhibition against the Yankees was to raise money to pay for Campanella’s rising medical bills. The attendance was the most to see a major league baseball game — until the Dodgers and Red Sox packed some 115,000 into the Coliseum for that 2007 exhibition.
The MLB Network marks the occasion on Monday with a Bob Costas-narrated piece that includes rarely-seen footage from that night, including Scully’s call of the game and his post-game radio interview with Campanella. The piece will first air between 3 and 5 p.m.and repeat throughout the night on “MLB Tonight” and “Quick Pitch.”
Also interviewed for the special are Campanella’s daughter Joni Roan (who works for the LA Daily News); Wes Parker, the future Dodgers first baseman who attended the game as a teenager; Tommy Lasorda, who was Campanella’s former teammate, and Carl Erskine, who pitched that night.