when don drysdale made his big league debut in relief on opening day of the 1956 season, his battery mate was roy campanella. the two were teammates again the following year, which turned out to be campy's last. some 36 years later, campanella and drysdale passed away within a week of each other - campanella at the age of 71 and drysdale at 56, both dead from heart attacks.
campanella, who was paralyzed in a car accident in january of 1958, was an 8-time all-star who won three national league mvp awards during his 10-year major league career. prior to that, he had played in the negro leagues for 10 years, and he had been the first african-american player in the american association, playing for the saint paul saints in 1948 (there is a picture of campy in his saints uniform hanging in target field, the home of the twins). he reached the majors for good later that season, and in 1969, he became the second african-american player to be voted into the hall of fame, following once again in the footsteps of jackie robinson. campanella's number 39 was among the first three numbers retired by the dodgers in a 1972 ceremony that also retired the numbers of robinson and sandy koufax. it was on june 26, 1993 that campanella died at his home.
drysdale had his number 53 retired by the dodgers following his induction into the hall of fame in 1984. he was also an 8-time all-star during his career, leading the league in strikeouts 3 times and winning the cy young award in 1962. drysdale famously set the record for most consecutive scoreless innings in his final full season when he went 58 and two-thirds innings without allowing a run in 1968. the streak included six consecutive shutouts from big d. following his retirement in 1969, drysdale began a career as a broadcaster, and he joined the dodger's broadcasting team in 1988 following the retirement of jerry doggett. five years later, drysdale was in montreal where the dodgers were playing the expos when he died on july 3, 1993. it was vin scully who broke the news during that game's broadcast to us dodger fans, noting that don had previously undergone an angioplasty to relieve some heart problems. what a surreal moment that was.
the dodgers added a memorial patch to their right sleeves for the remainder of the season honoring both hall of famers. the patch, with the text '39 roy don 53' recognized the numbers that had been retired for each player. you can see the patch on this 1994 fleer superstar special card of mike piazza and eric karros.
tom candiotti's 1994 donruss card
ditto for brett butler's 1994 topps stadium card
which also features a mustachioed butler
butler is clean shaven on his 1994 donruss triple play card
both cards show the patch nicely.
the back of wallach's 1994 topps stadium club card also gives a good view of the patch
as does pedro astacio's 1994 pinnacle card
and ricky trlicek's, too