The story of the Robinson-Shuba handshake is enjoying national exposure again with the posting of stories today by ESPN and its affiliate, The Undefeated.

The ESPN story can be found here and The Undefeated piece can be found here.

Both stories feature interviews with Youngstown-area individuals who led the movement to raise more than $400,000 for the Robinson-Shuba Commemorative Statue, which will be unveiled in Wean Park this summer. Those quoted or interviewed include statue project co-chairs Ernie Brown, Herb Washington and Greg Gulas, as well as Mike Shuba, son of George “Shotgun” Shuba, and Derrick McDowell, community engagement and inclusion coordinator for the Wean Park Complex. 

The ESPN story of more than 7 minutes also includes video of the statue being cast in Brooklyn, N.Y., along with an interview with sculptor Marc Mellon of Connecticut. 

The Robinson-Shuba statue will celebrate the handshake of Shuba, a Youngstown native, and baseball superstar Jackie Robinson on April 18, 1946, when they were teammates for the Montreal Royals, a minor league affiliate of the Brooklyn Dodgers. Robinson had just hit a three-run homer in his debut game as the first black player in the formerly all-white minor leagues, and Shuba was the first to congratulate him at home plate. 

Here’s the ESPN Sports Center segment on the handshake.

ESPN visited Youngstown in late February to collect footage and interviews for the stories.  

The ESPN coverage follow stories last year by CBS Sunday Morning and Sports Illustrated. The September CBS story sparked a donation of $175,000 from the Marie Lamfrom Charitable Foundation in Oregon that completed the fundraising for the statue. 

More information about the statue and handshake can be found at www.robinsonshuba.org.

Photo caption: The 7-minute ESPN story includes footage shot in Youngstown in February. 

 

An ESPN production crew was in Youngstown Tuesday filming a story about the historic Robinson-Shuba handshake and the downtown statue that will commemorate it. 

The story is scheduled to run shortly before April 18, the 75th anniversary of the 1946 handshake of Jackie Robinson, the first African American to play in the modern minor and major baseball leagues, and George Shuba, his white teammate from Youngstown.

The ESPN crew interviewed Mike Shuba, George’s son; Herb Washington, local McDonald’s restaurant operator and co-chair of the committee developing the statue; and Derrick McDowell, community engagement and inclusion coordinator for the Wean Park Complex, where the larger-than-life statue will be installed this summer. Separate footage was shot at the New York foundry preparing to cast the statue. 

The Robinson-Shuba story is part of ESPN Black History Always content initiative powered by The Undefeated, the content platform by ESPN exploring the intersection of sports, race and culture. The story will debut on The Undefeated digital hub, theundefeated.com, and air across ESPN media platforms.

“We’re very excited about seeing the statue — and the City of Youngstown — in the national spotlight again,” said Greg Gulas, former Youngstown State University sports information director and co-chair of the statue committee. “The Robinson-Shuba handshake marked a monumental moment in American history and we’re glad to see it drawing the high-level recognition it deserves.” 

Ernie Brown, retired Vindicator regional editor and co-chair of the statue committee, added, “The Robinson-Shuba handshake is a source of pride for Youngstown, and the statue will be as well. It will be a large, impressive reminder about the importance of unity and teamwork across racial lines, not only in sports but in all aspects of society.” 


Photo caption: Herb Washington, Derrick McDowell and Mike Shuba were interviewed by ESPN in Youngstown Tuesday.


Plans for the statue drew coverage on CBS Sunday Morning in September and have been covered extensively over the past year by media throughout the Mahoning Valley and some outlets in Cleveland, Columbus and Pittsburgh. Fund-raising for the $400,000 project is complete. 

The statue committee had hoped to dedicate the memorial on April 18 to mark the handshake’s 75th anniversary, but it postponed the event out of concerns over COVID-19.

The group expects to decide by mid-May on a new date in late summer.

More information about the statue project is available at www.robinsonshuba.org

The Robinson-Shuba statue project enjoyed tremendous publicity Sunday with the airing of CBS Sunday Morning‘s feature on the important memorial to racial equality. (View of a clip of the story here.)

Producers of the show estimate the audience at about 6 million viewers. Social media extended the reach. A CBS post with a clip of the show generated 7,300 likes on Facebook, as well as 1,600 shares. Twitter and Instagram posts also generated high engagement.

Here are some video clips CBS Sunday Morning posted on its social channels:

“CBS Sunday Morning” visited Youngstown Monday to collect interviews and footage to support its upcoming story about the Robinson-Shuba Commemorative Statue.

The CBS crew interviewed Mike Shuba, George’s son, and McDonald’s Restaurants operator Herb Washington, co-chair of the project committee (pictured above).

Steelite International America graciously donated use of its Commerce Building space for the day, and project volunteer Ray Klempay coordinated day-of details. The crew shot additional footage of Mike and Herb on Tuesday.

The “CBS Sunday Morning” segment is slated to run in the coming weeks.

Here are some local media stories about Monday’s shoot:

Below are some additional photos.

Herb Washington, project co-chair, talked to a CBS interviewer over Zoom during the shoot.
Ray Klempay kept things running smoothly with his attention to the details.
Mike Shuba recalled his father’s brave move. Much of the memorabilia on the set came from Mike’s collection.

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Sports Illustrated spotlighted the Robinson-Shuba handshake in a recent feature story about the important role of handshakes in sports and whether that role will survive the COVID-19 pandemic. The story includes photos of the sculpture model in progress and comments from Mike Shuba, George’s son.

Read the SI story here.

The games are back, but a certain special element of sportsmanship will not return, on account of the coronavirus. This is a remembrance of the ‘Put ‘er there,’ the soul shake, the hand slap, the high (and low) five. Those, and myriad other forms of dap, are done. For a while, at least.

Read more

MSNBC Commentator Al Sharpton was among those in the national media who covered the death of George Shuba in 2014 with a story about the 1946 handshake with Jackie Robinson.

The gesture “was a huge moment for baseball and an even bigger one for the country,” Sharpton said.

Later, he added, “He’ll always be remembered for how he took the fight against racial injustice into his own hands with that handshake.” 

Watch the full story at this link.

When George Shuba passed away in 2014 at age 89, the New York Times wrote one of its signature obituaries about him.

George “was best remembered for his welcoming gesture to Jackie Robinson at home plate on the day Robinson, as a minor leaguer, broke baseball’s color barrier,” the Times reported.

Read the full story at this link.

On the 60th anniversary of the Robinson-Shuba handshake, the New York Times used that phrase in the headline of a story commemorating it.

George Shuba told the paper later he didn’t realize the significance of the handshake at the time.

“I really didn’t,” he said. “Our teammate hit a home run so I shook his hand.”

Read the full story at this link.

Sports Illustrated interviewed George Shuba in 1996 for its story about the 50th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s barrier-smashing 1946 home run while he and George were teammates for the Montreal Royals, a minor league affiliate for the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Shuba told SI he remembered vividly the moment he shook Robinson’s hand as the future Hall of Famer crossed home plate after that three-run homer. “You could see it in his face, how happy he was,” Shuba says in the story. “You could see he was just overwhelmed with joy.”

SI writer Brad Herzog called Robinson’s hit “perhaps the most significant home run in baseball history.”

Read the full story at this link