Near the peak of their strength as a team, the 1952 Brooklyn Dodgers sent seven players to the All-Star game at Shibe Park in Philadelphia: Roy Campanella, Carl Furillo, Gil Hodges, Pee Wee Reese, Jackie Robinson, Preacher Roe and Duke Snider. The game was halted early due to rain, called after just five innings, with the National League defeating the American League, 3-2,thanks to a fourth inning 2-run home run by Hank Sauer.
Coming off his MVP season of 1951, Campanella was named to his fourth consecutive All-Star team (he would ultimately appear in eight). The Dodgers catcher would play all five innings of the game, with two at bats. In his first, in the top of the second, he popped out to Al Rosen at third base. In his second, he drew a 4th inning walk, moved to third on an Enos Slaughter double, and was stranded there to end the inning. For the purposes of this auction lot, however, those two at bats – and one batted ball – are important.
While players were (and, technically, still are, though they’re paid for by the teams) responsible for ordering their own bats, Hillerich & Bradsby rewarded participants in each year’s All-Star Game and World Series with a gift: two brand-new bats, prepared to the player’s specifications, and branded with the year and occasion. Those bats are, obviously, much more scarce than their typical bats, with just two manufactured for each player, they are much less likely to have survived.
In our Winter, 2016 auction, we are pleased to feature Roy Campanella’s G80 model Louisville Slugger, emblazoned with the 1952 All Star Game designation. The bat is visually stunning, absolutely beautiful in eye appeal and quality. While the bat is exceptionally clean, particularly given its age, it does exhibit signs of light use, with some ball marks on the left barrel and a very light coat of pine tar on the handle. The bat also exhibits some minor streaks consistent with being removed from a bat rack. Considering the circumstances surrounding the manufacture of this bat, coupled with Campanella’s lack of action in the game (just a foulout and a walk), John Taube of PSA/DNA, after thorough examination, has graded this bat a GU 9.
This is an outstanding bat, a beautiful example and just one of two such bats manufactured for Campanella. With specifications that match Campanella’s 1952 ordering records exactly, and a length and weight that match the bats ordered by Campanella in 1952, the authenticity of this bat is unquestionable.
Roy Campanella bats are very difficult to find. Campanella remains one of the most popular players in baseball history, his tragic story still a source of sadness for New York and Los Angeles sports fans. Campanella’s smiling face and proud determination in the face of his 1957 accident have made him an American hero. One of the most rare of all Campanella collectibles, a game-used bat from one of his All-Star appearances.