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.