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1958 - Auto Crash May Doom Career of Campanella - Dodgers' Catcher Paralyzed

GLEN COVE, N.Y., Jan. 28 (AP) - Roy Campanella's brilliant career as one of baseball's greatest catchers appeared at an end today. A grinding automobile accident broke his neck and left him temporarily paralyzed.

A seven-man team of surgeons worked over the Negro star of the Los Angeles Dodgers for four hours and 20 minutes in an attempt to repair the damage to his husky frame and relieve paralysis from the chest down. The operation had been expected to take two hours.

Within Inch of Death

Afterward, Dr. Robert W. Segstaken, head of the surgical team, termed the operation a success and said the paralysis is expected to disappear. But it may be six weeks before Campanella is up and around.

Dr. Segstaken said the injury came within an inch of killing the player. He said that a key factor in Campanella's case was that the spinal cord had escaped injury and was "entirely normal." The broken vertebrae were pressing on the cord and part of the operation was to relieve that pressure.

Outlook Bleak

The doctors said the operation took somewhat longer because of Campanella's "thick muscular neck," but added that these extra-tough muscles saved him from injury that "might have been much worse."

Later in his recovery, Campanella will be required to wear a "four-poster brace" on his neck with a cup under the chin.

The doctor did not rule out the possibility that Campanella might play baseball again. But the future, nevertheless, was bleak for the heaviest-hitting catcher in the history of the sport.

Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles, California
January 29, 1958

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