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:
- USA Today
- The Undefeated
- ESPN – Front Row
- The Vindicator
- Business Journal
- True Blue LA Blog
- Dodger Insider
- Jersey Journal
- News 12 Connecticut