The Robinson-Shuba Commemorative Statue was dedicated and unveiled Saturday in downtown Youngstown (photos below).

Jan Strasfeld, retired president of the Youngstown Foundation, and Sally Bany, chair of the Marie Lamfrom Charitable Foundation in Wilsonville, Ore., pulled away the curtains to uveil the bronze memorial portraying baseball great Jackie Robinson and Youngstown native George “Shotgun” Shuba.

The memorial to their 1946 handshake at home plate in Robinson’s debut game in mainstream professional baseball was designed as a monument to teamwork and unity across racial lines.

Here are some news stories about today’s event:

Here is a video archive of the ceremony:

 

Here are some photos from the event:

Jan Strasfeld, retired president of the Youngstown Foundation, and Sally Bany, chair of the Marie Lamfrom Charitable Foundation in Wilsonville, Ore., pull away the covers.

At nearly 7 feet fall, the Robinson-Shuba Commemorative Statue stands in Wean Park in downtown Youngstown after its unveiling Saturday.

Herb Washington, who played for the Oakland Athletics in the 1970s and now owns several McDonald’s Restaurants in the Youngstown area, speaks at Saturday’s unveiling ceremony.  

Mike Shuba of Youngstown, son of the late George “Shotgun” Shuba, admires the Robinson-Shuba Commemorative Statue.

The dedication and unveiling ceremony for the Robinson-Shuba Commemorative Statue was broadcast live on Saturday, July 17 in Wean Park in Youngstown and is archived here.

Watch it here (the ceremony begins at about 16:17):

https://youtu.be/aiF5P1t8ZCk

 

New 7-Foot Bronze Memorial in Youngstown Will Celebrate Unity Across Racial Lines

Planned for two years as a tribute to teamwork and unity across racial lines, the Robinson-Shuba Commemorative Statue will be unveiled Saturday in downtown Youngstown.

The $450,000 statue project marks the 1946 handshake of the color barrier-breaking Jackie Robinson and his teammate, George Shuba, after Robinson hit a three-run homer in his first minor league game. Shuba, a Youngstown native, stepped up to congratulate Robinson after neither of the two teammates who scored on the hit waited at home plate. 

The handshake is believed to be the first among black and white players on a mainstream professional baseball field.

“The important message of this stunning statue is that race should never separate us – not on a baseball diamond, not anywhere,” said Ernie Brown, co-chair of the committee that developed the memorial. “The statue site will be a great place for reflection and programming that guide us to treat people not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

Greg Gulas, another co-chair of the statue committee, added, “George Shuba’s gesture is a source of great pride here in Youngstown. By stepping up to shake Jackie Robinson’s hand, George reflected his Youngstown upbringing and set an example for future generations. In that moment, these two showed us what life can be like when people from different races are truly on the same team.”

The statue will be dedicated at 9 a.m. Saturday at its home in Wean Park, a new riverfront park alongside the Mahoning River in downtown Youngstown.

Standing nearly 7 feet tall, the bronze statue was crafted by Marc Mellon, a noted sculptor whose works have honored Pope John Paul II, U.S. Presidents George H.W. Bush and Barack Obama, Elie Wiesel and many others in world affairs and sports. The statue was cast by the Bedi-Makky Art Foundry in Brooklyn, N.Y., the shop known for casting the Iwo Jima Memorial near Washington, D.C., and the Wall Street Bull in New York.

At the time of the handshake, Robinson and Shuba played for the Montreal Royals, a minor league affiliate of the Brooklyn Dodgers. They later played together for the Dodgers, including on two World Series teams.

Shuba died in 2014 at 89 years old. His son, Mike, was involved in the statue development effort and will speak at Saturday’s unveiling ceremonies. Robinson died at 53 in 1972.

Herb Washington, a pinch runner for the Oakland Athletics in the 1970s and owner of several McDonald’s Restaurants in the Youngstown area, will also speak at Saturday’s event. His restaurants were among the largest donors to the statue fundraising campaign.

Also present Saturday will be representatives of the Marie Lamfrom Charitable Foundation in Portland, Ore. The foundation provided the statue’s largest donation after one of its leaders saw a story about it on a television news show.

More information about the handshake and statue are available at www.robinsonshuba.org.

Photo caption: The Robinson-Shuba Commemorative Statue was lowered into place Friday, July 9, and covered. It will be unveiled at 9 a.m Saturday, July 17.

Developers of the Robinson-Shuba Commemorative Statue project recently thanked three local companies for large in-kind donations. 

Aim Transportation Solutions donated the transport of the bronze handshake statue from the casting foundry in Brooklyn, N.Y., to downtown Youngstown, where it will be unveiled Saturday.

VEC, Inc. donated the wifi security camera system for the statue site in Wean Park, just west of the Covelli Center parking lot. 

Enviroscapes donated more than a third of the cost of landscaping for the statue environment. 

“These in-kind donations, along with several recent cash donations, enabled us to complete the project on time, despite a large spike in the cost of construction materials and services,” said Greg Gulas, co-chair of the committee developing the statue. “We’re very excited about unveiling the completed statue Saturday to memorialize this huge moment in the history of sports.” 

Ernie Brown, another co-chair of the committee, added, “The support from people and organizations across the Youngstown area has been strong since we first announced plans for this statue in late 2019. The statue’s message about unity among people of different races resonates very well in our community.” 

These donations and others will be recognized during the dedication ceremony at 9 a.m. Saturday, which will open the 2021 Youngstown State University Summer Festival of the Arts.

More information about the Robinson-Shuba Commemorative Statue is available at www.robinsonshuba.org.

Photo caption: Aim Transportation Solutions Co-President Scott Fleming (left) and employees Cliff Dilling (center) and Bob Thibodeau watched the placement of the Robinson-Shuba statue Friday after Bob, Cliff and an Aim colleague, Scott Harris (not pictured), delivered the statue safely from the casting foundry in Brooklyn, N.Y.

 

The unveiling and dedication of the Robinson-Shuba Commemorative Statue has been scheduled for 9 a.m. Saturday, July 17, as part of the Youngstown State University Summer Festival of the Arts in Wean Park. 

The statue, a monument to racial equality, will be unveiled in a ceremony to open the two-day festival, which will take place in Wean Park for the first time. 

“We’re excited about unveiling and dedicating this memorial to the historic handshake of Jackie Robinson and George ‘Shotgun’ Shuba,” said Ernie Brown, co-chair of the committee that developed the statue. “This beautiful statue will remind generations of people from the Mahoning Valley and beyond that race should never divide us on the baseball field or anywhere else.” 

Greg Gulas, co-chair of the statue committee, added, “There can be no better place to erect this monument than in Youngstown, Ohio, the hometown of George Shuba and the place where he learned and embraced the values reflected in the historic Robinson-Shuba handshake. Like that greeting at home plate in 1946, this statue will be a source of pride for Youngstowners.”

The handshake took place on April 18, 1946, after Robinson — the first Black player in modern organized baseball — hit a three-run homer in his debut game with the Montreal Royals. Although neither of the two players who scored on the blast waited for him at home plate, Shuba stepped up from the on-deck circle to shake his teammate’s hand. That moment, captured in many photographs, was the first interracial handshake on a modern professional baseball field.  

The dedication was originally scheduled for April 18, the handshake’s 75th anniversary, but was postponed because of COVID-19. 

“The Robinson-Shuba Commemorative Statue is a shining example of what can be accomplished when our community comes together,” said Lori Factor, director of the YSU Summer Festival of the Arts. “For nearly 25 years, the festival has celebrated the arts and culture in our community, collaborating with area museums, centers for art, nonprofits and others for common cause. We are delighted and honored to join with the organizers for the dedication of the historic Robinson-Shuba memorial in our new location.”

The statue site is now being prepared for construction at the east end of Wean Park, near the Covelli Center parking lot. It will include walkways and seating areas to support programming. 

Developed by noted sculptor Marc Mellon of Connecticut, the Robinson-Shuba statue will be cast in bronze and will stand nearly 7 feet tall above its base.  

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

Image caption: This rendering by BSHM Architects shows the Youngstown skyline behind the statue site on the east end of Wean Park in downtown Youngstown. 

Sunday marks the 75th anniversary of the Robinson-Shuba handshake, an underrated moment in sports history and the basis for the Robinson-Shuba Commemorative Statue.

In 1946, Jackie Robinson’s first season with the Brooklyn Dodgers organization, he was a member of the Montreal Royals minor league club. Throughout spring training, he faced racist comments from fans, and even some of his own teammates didn’t like the idea of an African American in mainstream professional baseball.

On April 18, in the regular season’s first game, Robinson hit a three-run homer. Neither of the players who scored on the hit waited at home plate to greet him. But Robinson’s teammate, George “Shotgun” Shuba of Youngstown, noticed that, so he stepped out of the on-deck circle and hustled to home plate to greet his teammate with the now-famous handshake.


Photo Caption: Ernie Brown, left, and Mike Shuba re-enact the historic 1946 handshake of Jackie Robinson and George “Shotgun” Shuba. Ernie is co-chair of the Robinson-Shuba Commemorative Statue project committee and a retired Vindicator regional editor. Mike is the son of George Shuba and caretaker of his father’s legacy.  


George would say later that he frequently played baseball in Youngstown with black and white teammates and didn’t see any reason to disrespect his teammate because of his skin color. 

In a 2007 book George wrote with Youngstown writer Greg Gulas, George says Robinson “could have been technicolor,” and he’d have shaken his hand.

The unveiling of the Robinson-Shuba statue, originally scheduled for this Sunday, has been postponed because of COVID-19, and a new date will be announced by mid-May.

In observance of the 75th anniversary of the handshake, several national and local media outlets have posted stories. Here are some links:

 

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. 

 

Developers of the Robinson-Shuba Commemorative Statue recently hired a contractor and broke ground at the statue site in Wean Park in downtown Youngstown.

Brock & Associates Builders Inc., based in North Lima, will serve as general contractor for the project, which includes a set of concrete walkways, a concrete base and seating to support programming at the memorial. 

“We are very excited and proud to be a part of this statue project and everything the Robinson-Shuba handshake meant for baseball and for the country,” said Brian Brock, president of the company. “We’re also glad to see so many improvements taking shape in downtown Youngstown.”

Brock also serves as general contractor for the Youngstown State Excellence Training Center now under construction on Fifth Avenue and served the same role in the building of the Youngstown Foundation Amphitheater in Wean Park in 2019. 

The unveiling of the Robinson-Shuba statue had been set for April 18 — the 75th anniversary of the 1946 handshake it celebrates — but it was postponed because of COVID-19. A new date will be announced in May. 

Photo caption: Pictured at the site of the Robinson-Shuba Commemorative Statue are (from left) Julius Oliver, Youngstown 1st Ward Councilman; Kate Spires, architect with BSHM Architects; Mike Shuba, son of George Shuba; statue project co-chairs Ernie Brown, Greg Gulas and Herb Washington; Youngstown Mayor Jamael Tito Brown; Brian Brock, president of Brock & Associates Builders Inc.; and Nick Chretien, program manager for the Economic Action Group.

The handshake of Jackie Robinson, the first African American in mainstream professional baseball, and George “Shotgun” Shuba, his white teammate from Youngstown, was a landmark moment in the integration of baseball and, eventually, much of American life.

The circumstances around the handshake were significant. Robinson had just hit a three-run home run in his debut game with the Montreal Royals, an affiliate of the Brooklyn Dodgers. As he rounded third base and headed home, neither of the teammates who scored on the hit were waiting at home to congratulate him. Shuba, the batter waiting on deck, noticed this, so he hustled up to home plate to shake Robinson’s hand.

“George Shuba stepped up at a time when many in America and some on his own team did not accept the notion of a black athlete participating,” said Ernie Brown, co-chair of the committee developing the statue. “His gesture is a source of pride in Youngstown.”

Greg Gulas, another co-chair of the group, added, “The Robinson-Shuba handshake was a historic moment in sports, and we’re very excited about installing this statue soon. It will remind generations of visitors from Youngstown and beyond that race should never divide us on the baseball field or anywhere.”

More information about the statue and its history is available at the statue campaign website, www.robinsonshuba.org.

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 10 donors who provided the lion’s share of support for the Robinson-Shuba Commemorative Statue will be recognized on a plaque at the site, the committee developing the statue announced today.

Led by the Marie Lamfrom Charitable Foundation, the Youngstown Foundation and the McDonald’s Restaurants of the Mahoning Valley and Western Pennsylvania, the 10 recognized donors collectively provided $380,000 of the $414,000 the committee raised, as well as critical in-kind services.

“We appreciate the enormous generosity of these donors and we think it’s safe to say the entire Mahoning Valley does, too,” said Greg Gulas, co-chair of the statue committee. “These gifts will help ensure that future generations in our community — and beyond — understand the Robinson-Shuba handshake and the values it represents.”

Meanwhile, the statue committee has postponed the dedication of the statue, originally set for April, because of the continued proliferation of COVID-19. The committee expects to decide by mid-May on a new date in late summer. 

By far the largest donation for the statue — $175,000 — came from the Oregon-based Marie Lamfrom Charitable Foundation. The foundation normally supports children’s causes in the Portland area but was moved to support the Youngstown statue after its leaders watched a CBS Sunday Morning story about it.

It will be designated a platinum donor, and the Youngstown Foundation and McDonald’s Restaurants will be gold donors.

The remaining seven donors will be designated as silver – the Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley, the J. Ford Crandall Memorial Foundation, Mahoning Valley Sports Charities, Premier Bank, the Rotary Club of Youngstown, BSHM Architects and Pecchia Communications.

The 1946 handshake of Jackie Robinson, the first African American allowed to play in mainstream professional baseball, and George Shuba, his white teammate from Youngstown, was a landmark moment in the integration of baseball and, eventually, much of American life.

The circumstances around the handshake were significant. Robinson had swatted a three-run home run in his debut game with the Montreal Royals, an affiliate of the Brooklyn Dodgers. As he rounded third base and headed home, neither of the teammates who scored on the hit were waiting at home to congratulate him. Shuba, the batter waiting on deck, noticed this, so he hustled up to home plate to shake Robinson’s hand.

“George Shuba did the right thing, reflecting the values he learned as he grew up in Youngstown,” said Ernie Brown, co-chair of the statue committee. “Thanks to dozens of large and small donors, this statue will be a monument to unity across racial lines, and to a Youngstown man’s important contribution to that goal.

“We look forward to dedicating the statue in Wean Park when the COVID-19 situation improves. So we’re postponing our April 18 event in the best interest of the health and safety of the many we expect will attend. We look forward to setting a new date by mid-May.”

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


Photo caption: This architect’s rendering shows the statue memorial in Wean Park in downtown Youngstown.


Check out the news coverage in these media outlets: