July 2006

Campy Stamp

This Sunday the U.S. Postal Service will unveil a very special commemorative stamp at Dodger Stadium.  This special stamp bares the image of a special man, Roy Campanella. 

Roy was a Dodger great, perhaps, the greatest of them all.  He was a three-time MVP, an eight-time all star, and a Hall of Famer on and off the field.  He was one of the greatest catchers to ever put on the shin guards and mask, and squat behind home plate, and when he was inducted into

Cooperstown in 1969, nobody was more deserving.

I was fortunate enough to play with Roy Campanella.  He had one of the best baseball minds ever.  His strategy was only bested by his hustle, and if it weren?t for his accident his accomplishments in our game would be unparalleled. 

However, let?s get one thing straight: Because he was paralyzed did not mean his mind shut down.  In fact, when I became the manager, I went to Roy and said, ?You can?t walk, but there is nothing wrong with your mind.  I want you to be on my coaching staff.?

His eyes became as big as saucers. 

When I introduced him to the team, I told them to listen to every word Roy said and to be like the wise old owl: The more he saw the less he spoke, the less he spoke the more he heard, and the more he heard the more he learned. 

Roy mentored Joe Ferguson, Steve Yeager and Mike Scioscia.  Look at how many years those guys played in the big leagues, look at their success. 

Campy_stamp Everybody talks about Jackie Robinson, and rightfully so.  But

Roy Campanella also had a tremendous affect on the Dodgers, the country.  He was a true role model, and never questioned why he was hurt. 

He never complained, never questioned himself, or his circumstance.  He persevered, and continued to devote himself to his country, his family and the Dodgers.  His late wife, Roxy, once said something to me that brought a tear to me eye.  She told me that when I asked Roy to be one of my coaches that it inspired him, and kept him going.

So as we pay homage to Roy, I want everyone to know what a great man he was, and how deserving he is of this stamp.  He was a great man, a great patriot and truly one of the Boys of Summer.

Mid Summer Classic

The Mid Summer Classic lived up to its name.  This year?s game was hard fought battle between two teams that wanted to win.  Gone is the perception that Baseball?s All Star Game is just an exhibition.  This game mattered not only because it determined home field advantage for the World Series, not just because the National League wanted to end the AL?s winning streak, but because its Baseball?s way of saying Thank You to the fans.

The best players in the world played yesterday, with the rosters being determined by the voting of the fans.  Many people are critical of that system, and want it to be changed, but I have to object to that.  I say no way, I say let the fans vote.  We owe them that privilege for their continued love and support of baseball.  I have said many, many times that baseball does not belong to the players, nor to the owners, but that it belongs to the fans.  They might not always be right, and it?s inevitable that deserving guys will be left off the roster, but generally speaking the fans get it right.  Voting gives the fans a chance to show their love for their favorite players.  It also gives them a chance to be involved in the game.  To take their vote away would be like a slap in the face.

People are also critical of Commissioner Selig for giving home field advantage to the winning league.  I think that criticism is unfair as well.  When the 2002 All Star game ended in a tie, the commissioner was berated with criticism when in fact the two managers should have taken the heat for playing everyone instead of being prepared for extra innings.  After that outcome, he decided to make sure everyone knows that the game matters, and that it is not just an exhibition.  The game is at its best when the best players assemble and play hard, and play to win.  The fans want to see a winner, and they want to see good baseball, which is what happens when the game is taken seriously.  Just look at how great the last two All Star games have been.

I commend Commissioner Selig for this year?s Classic, as it was a tremendous success.  I also commend the city of Pittsburg for being wonderful hosts.  The player s are to be commended for representing Major League Baseball to the highest degree of class, dignity and character, and for giving the fans the game they wanted to see. 

Last, but certainly not least, I commend the fans for their tremendous support, continued interest and love for the greatest game in the world, baseball.

All-Star Nomar

Being one of the leaders in the National League in batting, hitting .360, and not being selected as an All-Star is brutal.  I urge baseball fans everywhere to show Nomar Garciaparrathe respect he deserves and vote him onto the All-Star team.

What more can you ask from a player?  He is having a great year, showing everybody that he is the hitter he used to be.  He shows up early, works hard, and plays the game with class, dignity and character, the way it should be played.

So my message to all of you fans is this: Go out and vote for Nomar, it is your duty!