July 17 Unveiling Set for Robinson-Shuba Statue.

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.