Photo credits: MLB Photos via Getty Images
He was born on November 19, 1921 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His mother, Ida, was a Black American woman. His father, John Campanella, was the son of two immigrants from Italy. He adopted a love for baseball at an early age.
The Philly native played in the Negro leagues and Mexican League for 9 years before entering the minor leagues in 1946. He made his Major League Baseball (MLB) debut in 1948 for the Brooklyn Dodgers, for whom he played until 1957.
According to BlackFacts.com, Campanella won the National Baseball League’s MVP Award for the second time on his birthday in 1953. In 1955, he won this same award due to his athletic excellence for the third time.
His playing career ended when he was permanently paralyzed as a result of an automobile accident in January 1958. He is widely considered to be one of the greatest catchers in the history of the game.
When he retired from playing baseball as a result of the accident, Campanella held positions in scouting and community relations with the Dodgers. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1969. To this day, Campanella is considered by many to be the greatest catcher of all time.
He died at 71 years of age on June 26, 1993 in Woodland Hills, California.
*BlackThen.com writer and historian Victor Trammell edited and contributed to this report.