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

Supporters of the Robinson-Shuba Commemorative Statue today announced a $15,000 grant from Mahoning Valley Sports Charities, a fund housed under the Youngstown Foundation. This is the first grant the project has announced since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

“This strong show of support brings us closer to putting the Robinson-Shuba statue in place in downtown Youngstown,” said Ernie Brown, a co-chair of the Robinson-Shuba Commemorative Statue Committee. “We’re thrilled that leaders of Mahoning Valley Sports Charities understand the important message this statue will deliver about racial equality and unity and our community’s longstanding support of those principles.”

Mahoning Valley Sports Charities includes proceeds from an annual LPGA charity golf tournament that was sponsored in the Mahoning Valley by Phar-Mor, then Giant Eagle, from 1990 through 2004.

“We are pleased to further support the Robinson-Shuba statue, which will recognize ‘one of our own’ and his role in an important historic moment,” said Jan Strasfeld, executive director of the Youngstown Foundation. “The timing for our support of this monument to racial equality couldn’t be better.”

The larger-than-life statue will portray and celebrate the 1946 handshake at home plate between Jackie Robinson, the first African-American allowed to compete in mainstream professional baseball, and his white teammate, George Shuba of Youngstown. 

Youngstown resident stepped up for historic handshake in 1946

The historic handshake occurred on April 18, 1946, when Robinson and Shuba were teammates for the Montreal Royals, a farm team for Major League Baseball’s Brooklyn Dodgers. Robinson, who had been a star in the Negro Leagues, was making his debut in mainstream pro ball.

In his second at-bat, with two other Royals on base, Robinson hit a home run. But neither of the teammates who scored on the homer moved to congratulate him at home plate. Shuba, the on-deck batter, noticed that, so he stepped right up to shake Robinson’s hand just as the future Hall of Famer was crossing home. Photographs captured that moment — the first handshake of black and white players on a professional baseball diamond.

Dedication scheduled to mark handshake’s 75th anniversary

Plans call for the Youngstown statue to be dedicated on April 18, 2021, the 75th anniversary of the handshake. The statue will be located in Wean Park, between the Covelli Center and Youngstown Amphitheatre. 

The statue representations of Robinson and Shuba will stand nearly 7 feet tall, not including the statue base. Marc Mellon, a world-class Connecticut sculptor whose works have honored Pope John Paul II, President George H. W. Bush, President Barack Obama and many award-winning athletes, is working on the statue, which will be cast by the Beddi-Maky Art Foundry in Brooklyn, N.Y. 

Since announcing the project in late November, the statue project committee has raised more than $140,000, or more than a third of its $400,000 goal. 

More information about the statue project, including opportunities to support it, can be found at www.robinsonshuba.org.

 

​Two of our project co-chairs wrote an op-ed recently for the Vindicator and Tribune about racial equality and the importance of the Robinson-Shuba handshake in advancing it.

By Ernie Brown Jr. and Greg Gulas  

There are no easy answers to racism. But we know from experience that racist attitudes weaken when white and black people have opportunities to be on the same team.

When we’re on the same team, we’re united to win together, even if individual team members happen to vary in race, age, gender, hometown or some other characteristic. In the context of the team’s goals, those individual traits become secondary.

Professional sports have been instrumental in bringing together fans of multiple races, and a defining event in the integration of sports has a Youngstown connection. The two main players in the historic 1946 moment were Jackie Robinson, the first black player in mainstream professional baseball (who became a star and was inducted into the Hall of Fame), and George Shuba, his white teammate from Youngstown.

Read the full op-ed at the Vindicator website.

​The group planning a statue in Youngstown to celebrate the historic 1946 handshake of Jackie Robinson and George Shuba marked that event’s 74th anniversary today by reporting major progress on the larger-than-life statue. 

The statue’s sculptor is developing a clay model, standing nearly 7 feet tall, that will be used to cast the figure of Robinson, the first African American in mainstream professional baseball. Also under construction is the model for Shuba, the Youngstown native who was Robinson’s white teammate with the Montreal Royals, a Brooklyn Dodgers affiliate. 

“While we’re still in the early stages of developing the statue, our progress on these models is very exciting,” said Marc Mellon, the world-class Connecticut-based sculptor crafting the statue. “In the upcoming months I’ll be working on the George Shuba figure. When both figures are completed later this summer, we will first cast them in plaster, refine the surfaces, and then cast them in bronze.”

The 1946 handshake at home plate after a Robinson home run in his debut professional game has been hailed as the “handshake of the century,” as it marked the racial integration of pro ball, which helped accelerate the breakdown of racial barriers in other areas of American life. 

Mellon is working with a group of Youngstown-area community leaders to build and dedicate the statue near the Youngstown Amphitheatre downtown on April 18, 2021, the 75th anniversary of the historic handshake. 

“We’ve made such great progress because the Youngstown community has stepped up big-time to support this statue,” said Ernie Brown, a retired Vindicator regional editor and co-chair of the statue project committee. 


Photo Caption: Sculptor Marc Mellon works on a larger-than-life model of Jackie Robinson. At left is a model of the head of George Shuba of Youngstown, Robinson’s teammate with the Montreal Royals. For a larger version of the photo, click here.


“The development of the two large models for the statue and the bronze casting all represent our donors’ dollars hard at work.”

​ The most prominent supporters of the statue so far are the Youngstown Foundation, McDonald’s Restaurants in the Mahoning and Shenango Valleys and the J. Ford Crandall Foundation. In less than five months, the committee has raised about $130,000 of its $400,000 goal. 

The statue itself will be cast by the Bedi-Makky Art Foundry in Brooklyn, N.Y., known worldwide for casting the Iwo Jima Memorial near Washington, D.C., and the Charging Bull in the New York financial district. 

Mellon’s works in bronze have honored Pope John Paul II, President George H. W. Bush, President Barack Obama and many award-winning athletes. 

“We’re very excited to have a top-shelf artist and a top-shelf foundry at work to commemorate one of the most important and under-rated moments in American history,” said Greg Gulas, co-chair of the project committee. 

“When George Shuba stepped up to shake Jackie Robinson’s hand at home plate, at a time when racism was rampant in our country, he taught America an important lesson and made Youngstown very proud. The statue marking this moment will be a huge source of pride in Youngstown for generations to come.”

More information about the Robinson-Shuba statue is available at its website, www.robinsonshuba.org.

Supporters of the proposed statue to mark the historic 1946 handshake of baseball Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson and George “Shotgun” Shuba of Youngstown today announced a $25,000 grant for the project from the J. Ford Crandall Memorial Foundation. 

“We appreciate this grant and the momentum we’re establishing as more people learn about this project and its important message about racial unity,” said Ernie Brown, co-chair of the Robinson-Shuba Commemorative Statue Committee. “Community leaders like the J. Ford Crandall trustees reflect the mindset of Jackie Robinson, George Shuba and many others who believe people from different races should always treat each other with fairness and respect.”


Photo caption: Robinson-Shuba Statue Committee co-chairs Greg Gulas (second from left) and Ernie Brown (fourth) pose near the Youngstown Foundation Amphitheatre with Crandall Foundation trustee Mike Ray, Mahoning County Probate Judge Robert Rusu and foundation trustee Kevin Chiu. 


Attorney Andrew G. Bresko, managing member of the J. Ford Crandall Foundation board of trustees, said the grant reflects the wishes of the late J. Ford Crandall, who established a grant through the Probate Court to support such important causes in Mahoning County.

Mahoning County Probate Court Judge Robert N. Rusu Jr. stated that J. Ford Crandall “would be pleased to be part of this historic statue commemorating the principles of fairness and respect demonstrated by George Shuba.”  

Youngstown resident stepped up for historic handshake in 1946

The historic handshake occurred on Opening Day 1946, when Robinson and Shuba were teammates for the Montreal Royals, a farm team for Major League Baseball’s Brooklyn Dodgers. Robinson was making his debut as the first African-American player in modern professional baseball.

In his second at-bat, with two other Royals on base, Robinson hit a home run. Neither of the teammates who scored on the homer moved to congratulate him. Shuba, the on-deck batter, noticed that, so he stepped right up to shake Robinson’s hand just as the future Hall of Famer was crossing home plate. Several photos captured that moment — the first handshake of black and white players on a professional baseball diamond. 

Dedication scheduled to mark handshake’s 75th anniversary

Plans call for the statue to be dedicated on April 18, 2021, the 75th anniversary of the handshake. The proposed site for the statue is near the Youngstown Foundation Amphitheatre. 

A photo now owned by George’s son, Mike Shuba of Youngstown, will be the basis of the statue, which will stand nearly 7 feet tall and feature the two players shaking hands, with Shuba holding his bat. Marc Mellon, a world-class Connecticut sculptor whose works have honored Pope John Paul II, President George H. W. Bush, President Barack Obama and many award-winning athletes, has agreed to craft the bronze Robinson-Shuba statue. 

Since announcing the project in late November, the statue committee has already more than $127,000, or nearly a third of its $400,000 goal, mostly through local foundations.  

More information about the statue project, including opportunities to support it, can be found at www.robinsonshuba.org.

Check out the news coverage in these media outlets:

Last Thursday’s passing of Roger Kahn, author of The Boys of Summer, an iconic 1972 book about the 1952 Brooklyn Dodgers, has stirred up some memories of George “Shotgun” Shuba, a starter on that storied team.  (The photo above shows Shuba and Kahn in New York in the 1980s.)

From Friday’s edition of The Athletic (read the full story here):

When I heard Roger died, for some reason, my mind immediately traveled to the chapter he wrote about George “Shotgun” Shuba, a relatively minor member of those Boys of Summer. Shuba was a good hitter who was famously (and self-consciously) sketchy in the field. This was 20 years after the Boys of Summer, they were both middle aged men, and Kahn was praising Shuba for being such a natural hitter. Shuba was unimpressed by the analysis. “Ah,” he said, “you talk like a sportswriter.”

Then he took Kahn to the basement, where he had baseball bats filled with lead. He’d swing those heavy bats again and again, 600 times a night, 4,200 times a week, 47,200 swings every winter.

“You call that natural?” Shuba said.

“I wish I’d known this years ago,” Kahn said. “It would have helped my own hitting.”

“Aah,” Shuba said in the stuffy cellar. “Don’t let yourself think like that. The fastball is by the both of us. Leave it to the younger guys.”

From Friday’s edition of Call to the Pen (read the full story here):

Kahn moved from listening to 1952 Rookie of the Year Joe Black, the first African-American to win a World Series game, speak of his effectiveness teaching black and white schoolchildren to stop fearing each other, to listening to pinch-hitter/outfielder George Shuba discuss his deep religious faith and family philosophy — and letting Shuba show him the secret to the smooth swing Kahn admired so greatly: six hundred swings daily at a clump of rubber bands made into a ball hanging from a basement rafter.

The Boys of Summer included a chapter on Youngstown native George “Shotgun” Shuba and one on Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson. The chapter about Shuba was titled “The Bishop’s Brother,” as George’s brother, Michael, was a Catholic bishop.

Mike Shuba, George’s son, has a collection of Brooklyn Dodgers memorabilia, including a jersey George wore in the 1955 World Series and a newspaper reporting on the Dodgers’ World Series victory that year.

Supporters of the proposed statue to mark the historic 1946 handshake of baseball Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson and George “Shotgun” Shuba of Youngstown today announced a $50,000 grant for the project from McDonald’s restaurant owners of the Mahoning Valley and Western Pennsylvania. 

“This grant is a big step in our fund-raising efforts and reflects the broad and growing support of this project throughout our community,” said Greg Gulas, co-chair of the Robinson-Shuba Commemorative Statue Committee. “We appreciate the community-minded leadership and support of the local McDonald’s restaurants.”


Photo caption: Positioned near the Youngstown Amphitheatre, site for the proposed Robinson-Shuba Commemorative Statue, are, from left, Guy Birney, Susan Moorer and Herb Washington, representing local McDonald’s restaurants, and Greg Gulas, Nick Chretien and Ernie Brown from the statue project committee. 


Herb Washington, a local McDonald’s owner and spokesperson, said the grant reflects the organization’s “commitment to the great people of the valley.”

“The Robinson-Shuba statue will shine a bright light on racial harmony and the good things that happen when people from different races treat each other right,” Washington said. “That’s a very important message, and our team is proud to support it. We’re also grateful for this area’s strong support of McDonald’s restaurants, which makes grants like this possible.”  

Youngstown resident stepped up for historic handshake in 1946

The historic handshake occurred on Opening Day 1946, when Robinson and Shuba were teammates for the Montreal Royals, a farm team for Major League Baseball’s Brooklyn Dodgers. Robinson was making his debut as the first African-American player in modern professional baseball.

In his second at-bat, with two other Royals on base, Robinson hit a home run. Neither of the teammates who scored on the homer moved to congratulate him. Shuba, the on-deck batter, noticed that, so he stepped right up to shake Robinson’s hand just as the future Hall of Famer was crossing home plate. Several photos captured that moment — the first handshake of black and white players on a professional baseball diamond. 

Dedication scheduled to mark handshake’s 75th anniversary

Plans call for the statue to be dedicated on April 18, 2021, the 75th anniversary of the handshake. The proposed site for the statue is near the Youngstown Foundation Amphitheatre. 

A photo now owned by George’s son, Mike Shuba of Youngstown, will be the basis of the statue, which will stand nearly 7 feet tall and feature the two players shaking hands, with Shuba holding his bat. Marc Mellon, a world-class Connecticut sculptor whose works have honored Pope John Paul II, President George H. W. Bush, President Barack Obama and many award-winning athletes, has agreed to craft the bronze Robinson-Shuba statue. 

More information about the statue project, including opportunities to support it, can be found at www.robinsonshuba.org.

# # #

Here are links to some news stories based on today’s news:

Mahoning Matters, Feb. 3

WFMJ-TV News, Feb. 3

WKBN-TV News, Feb. 3

Vindicator, Feb. 4

Business Journal Daily, Feb. 4 

Supporters of a downtown Youngstown statue to mark the historic 1946 handshake of baseball Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson and George “Shotgun” Shuba of Youngstown today announced a $50,000 grant for the project from the Youngstown Foundation. 

“This grant is a fast, big and important step toward our goal of raising $400,000 for this project,” said Ernie Brown, a co-chair of the Robinson-Shuba Commemorative Statue Committee. “We deeply appreciate the leadership and generosity of the Youngstown Foundation.”

Jan Strasfeld, executive director of the Youngstown Foundation, said its governing board instantly recognized the importance of the Robinson-Shuba statue, which would memorialize the first interracial handshake in modern professional baseball. 

“This statue recognizes the role ‘one of our own’ played in an important historic moment that helped advance racial equality in American sports and culture,” she said. “There is no city more appropriate than Youngstown, a true community of excellence, for a larger-than-life statue that honors Jackie Robinson’s achievements and George Shuba’s respect for them.”

The Economic Action Group, a downtown development advocate and fiscal agent for the statue project, will be the grant recipient.  The statue committee will be approaching other foundations and potential donors as well. 

“The Youngstown Foundation grant not only provides an early financial boost but tremendous credibility to our fund-raising efforts,” said Nick Chretien, program manager for the EAG. “We’re appreciative of the Youngstown Foundation’s support and confident that many others will want to support this project because of the important moment it celebrates.”    

Individual contributions are welcome at the project’s GoFundMe page.   

The historic handshake occurred on Opening Day 1946, when both Robinson and Shuba were playing for the Montreal Royals, a farm team for Major League Baseball’s Brooklyn Dodgers. A huge crowd was on hand in Jersey City, N.J., as Robinson became the first African-American player in mainstream professional baseball. 

In his second at-bat, with two other Royals on base, Robinson hit a home run. Neither of the teammates who scored on the homer moved to congratulate him.

Shuba, the on-deck batter, noticed that, so he stepped right up to shake Robinson’s hand just as the future Hall of Famer was crossing home plate. Several photos captured that moment — the first handshake of black and white players on a professional baseball diamond. 

Dedication scheduled to mark handshake’s 75th anniversary

Plans call for the statue to be dedicated on April 18, 2021, the 75th anniversary of the handshake. The proposed site for the statue is near the Youngstown Foundation Amphitheatre. 

A photo now owned by George’s son, Mike Shuba of Youngstown, will be the basis of the statue, which will stand nearly 7 feet tall. Marc Mellon, a Connecticut sculptor whose works have honored Pope John Paul II, President George H. W. Bush, President Barack Obama and many award-winning athletes, has agreed to craft the bronze Robinson-Shuba statue. 

More information about the statue project can be found at www.robinsonshuba.org. Supporters can follow the project on Twitter and Facebook at @RobinsonShuba.

The Youngstown Foundation, established in 1918 by a group of prominent industrial leaders with an initial gift of $33,000, has donated more than $100 million over its 101-year history. It is one of the largest grant makers in northeastern Ohio.

​Last weekend’s announcement of the effort to build a statue to mark the historic 1946 handshake of Jackie Robinson and George “Shotgun” Shuba enjoyed a warm reception in the news media last week.

Print, broadcast and online media in northeastern Ohio ran prominent stories. So did blogs that cover the Los Angeles Dodgers, formerly the Brooklyn Dodgers, where Robinson and Shuba were teammates.

In case you missed any of the coverage, check out these links.

Saturday, Nov. 30, Metro Monthly: Downtown Robinson-Shuba Statue Would Celebrate Iconic Handshake

Sunday, Dec. 1, Vindicator: 1946 Handshake Made Larger-Than-Life Statement

Sunday, Dec. 1, Tribune Chronicle: Handshake of the Century – Robinson-Shuba Moment at Home Plate to be Memorialized with Bronze Statue

Sunday, Dec. 1, Business Journal: Robinson-Shuba Statue to Celebrate 1946 Handshake

Sunday, Dec. 1, WFMJ-TV News (Youngstown): Statue Celebrating Jackie Robinson-George Shuba Handshake Planned for Downtown Youngstown

Sunday, Dec. 1, WEWS-TV News (Cleveland): Youngstown Group Plans to Build Historic Jackie Robinson Statue

Monday, Dec. 2, Mahoning Matters: Youngstown Statue to Celebrate Robinson-Shuba Handshake

Monday, Dec. 2, Kindred Blue: The Handshake — And Soon the Statue

Monday, Dec. 2, Dodgers Blue Heaven: New Robinson/Shuba Statue to be Created

Tuesday, Dec. 3, cleveland.com: George Shuba-Jackie Robinson Famed Handshake to Be Immortalized With Statue in Youngstown

Tuesday, Dec. 3, WKBN-TV News (Youngstown): Statue of First Interracial Handshake at Professional Baseball Game Being Built in Youngstown

Wednesday, Dec. 4, Dodgers Nation: Dodgers Legend Jackie Robinson to Get Ohio Statue For Legendary Moment

Friday, Dec. 6, Baseball Historian: 1946 Jackie Robinson-George Shuba Handshake to be Memorialized by Ohio Statue

Sunday, Dec. 8, Vindicator/Tribune Chronicle: Moment Worth Memorializing in Our Valley