Project to memorialize racial and baseball history gets $50K donation

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There is an effort to build a statue depicting the moment the first interracial handshake happened on a professional baseball diamond

A $50,000 grant from the Youngstown Foundation has put fundraising for the Robinson-Shuba Commemorative Statue on base. (Left to right: Nick Chretien, program manager for the Economic Action Group, the project’s fiscal agent; Jan Strasfeld, executive director of the Youngstown Foundation; Greg Gulas and Ernie Brown, co-chairs of the statue project committee)

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – The Youngstown Foundation is donating $50,000 to a project that wants to memorialize a moment in baseball history.

The bronze statue of Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson and Youngstown native George “Shotgun” Shuba will stand nearly seven feet tall.

In 1946, Shuba shook Robinson’s hand during a game — 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,” said Jan Strasfeld, executive director of the Youngstown Foundation. “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 handshake happened on opening day in Jersey City when both Robinson and Shuba were playing for the Montreal Royals, a farm team for MLB’s Brooklyn Dodgers.

In his second at-bat with two other Royals players on base, Robinson hit a home run. Neither of Robinson’s teammates who scored on the homer congratulated him. But Shuba, the on-deck batter, did.

The proposed site for the statue is near the Youngstown Foundation Amphitheatre downtown. It will cost $400,000.

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