09/23/2010 5:43 PM ET
Dodgers Dream Foundation and Cal State Northridge team up to honor the legacy of late Hall of Famer Roy Campanella
LOS ANGELES - The Dodgers Dream Foundation (DDF), in conjunction with the family of the late Roy Campanella, has teamed up with California State University, Northridge to ensure that the legacy of the Hall of Fame catcher and civil rights pioneer will carry on for years to come.
As part of a long-term partnership, the DDF will make an annual financial contribution to support the Roy and Roxie Campanella Physical Therapy Scholarship Endowment at CSUN while also providing an internship opportunity within the Dodgers' medical department each season for a student from the university's physical therapy program.
"I'm so thrilled that the Dodgers Dream Foundation has stepped up to create this partnership," said Joni Campanella Roan. "This is an opportunity to make my parents' dream stay alive and to know that we're helping students make their dreams a reality."
As part of today's announcement, Campanella Roan will be on hand for a pregame ceremony alongside representatives from Cal State Northridge and the Los Angeles Dodgers. Dodger infielder Jamey Carroll, the winner of the 2010 Roy Campanella Award, will also be on hand.
"We are extremely grateful for the Dodgers Dream Foundation's support of our Physical Therapy Program and delighted about the recognition this partnership with the Dodgers and the Campanella family provides our outstanding students," said Sylvia Alva, Dean of Cal State Northridge's College of Health and Human Development. "The Dodgers are a premier team and organization and we are thrilled that our physical therapy students will have a unique and special opportunity to do an internship with them each season."
Also on hand during tonight's ceremony will be Dodger Director of Medical Services and Head Athletic Trainer, Stan Conte, who earned his B.S. in Physical Therapy at CSUN in 1978 and his doctorate in physical therapy from Boston University earlier this year.
"We're looking forward to welcoming CSUN's brightest P.T. students into a learning environment that will allow them to carry on the legacy of Roy Campanella," said Conte. "The Dodgers have been dedicated to the field of physical therapy since long before it was commonplace in sports and this is another great step for the organization."
The Los Angeles Dodgers are believed to be the first team to hire a physical therapist in 1981, Pat Screnar, and three years ago the club became the first team in Major League history to hire a female physical therapist, Sue Falsone.
The partnership between CSUN, the Dodgers Dream Foundation and the Campanella family comes on the same day that Carroll was named as the winner of the fifth annual Roy Campanella Award, which honors the player who best exemplifies the spirit and leadership of the late Dodger catcher, as voted upon by teammates and on-field staff members.
Along with teammates Jackie Robinson and Don Newcombe, Campanella aided in the integration of baseball and the trio is considered among those whose success on and off the field helped launch the civil rights movement. Campanella was a three-time National League MVP (1951, 1953, 1955), eight-time All-Star and a member of the 1955 World Championship team. He played in five World Series and his 142 RBI in 1953 set a franchise record, since surpassed by Tommy Davis (153 in 1962). In 1,215 career games during a 10-year career, all with the Dodgers, he batted .276 with 242 home runs and 856 RBI and was elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1969.
On Jan. 29, 1958, just as the Dodgers were making final preparations for their move to Los Angeles, Campanella was involved in a tragic car accident that paralyzed him from the neck down, marking the end of his playing career. On May 7, 1959, a then-Major League record-setting 93,103 fans filled the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on "Roy Campanella Night" for an exhibition game between the Dodgers and Yankees.
The accident transformed Campanella and his future wife, Roxie, into tireless workers on behalf of people with disabilities. They also became aware of the role that physical therapists play in an individual's journey toward independence.
"My dad was able to build his upper body strength so he could take care of some of his own basic needs such as feeding himself and writing," said Campanella Roan. "This may sound small, but it was crucial to his re-integration into society."