Unveiling date set for Youngstown’s Shuba handshake statue

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The statue unveiling will kick off YSU's Festival of the Arts

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The unveiling and dedication of the Robinson-Shuba Commemorative Statue has been scheduled for Saturday, July 17, as part of the Youngstown State University Summer Festival of the Arts in Wean Park.

The statue unveiling will kick off the two-day event.

“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.”

The statue, a monument to racial equality, recreates the handshake that 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.

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.

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