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Developers unveil peek of statue locale

Rendering of Robinson-Shuba project released to public

YOUNGSTOWN — Developers of the Robinson-Shuba Commemorative Statue in downtown Youngstown on Monday released a rendering of the larger-than-life sculpture.

The bronze statue will mark the 1946 handshake of Jackie Robinson, the first African-American player in mainstream professional baseball, and George Shuba, his white teammate from Youngstown. The memorial is scheduled for dedication on April 18, 2021, the 75th anniversary of the historic handshake.

The handshake followed the first home run of Robinson’s career in mainstream professional baseball, when he and Shuba played for the Montreal Royals, a minor league affiliate of the Brooklyn Dodgers. Robinson was the first African-American allowed in mainstream pro ball, and he often faced hatred and racial insults, sometimes even from his own teammates.

That first home run in his debut game was a three-run blast, and neither of the two Royals who scored on the hit waited at home plate to greet Robinson. The on-deck hitter, Shuba, noticed that, so he stepped up to shake Robinson’s hand just as he crossed home. That handshake was captured in photographs.

Crafted by BSHM Architects, a Youngstown-based design firm, the rendering portrays the statue with seating areas, visitors and the city center in the background. The seating is sufficient to support a classroom size of students learning about the Jackie Robinson-George Shuba handshake and the importance of inclusion.

“The statue will be a very visible addition to downtown Youngstown and an excellent place for scheduled events and informal reflection,” said Katie Spires, an architect with BSHM and member of the committee developing the memorial. “The rows of seating east of the statue can support scheduled programming, and the smaller seating areas on the other side will enable visitors to linger and reflect.”

BSHM is donating its services for the project on a pro bono basis. In addition to the rendering, the firm has designed the statue’s environment and is working on securing building contractors for the site.

“We’re very pleased to support the Robinson-Shuba statue and the very important message it will send about racial equality,” said Byron Manchester, president and chief executive officer at BSHM.

The initial rendering of the statue is part of the package that will soon be submitted to the City of Youngstown Design Review Board for review and approval. Discussions recently began with labor unions and contractors interested in being part of the project.

Crews from “CBS Sunday Morning” were in Youngstown last week to work on an upcoming feature story about the Robinson-Shuba Commemorative Statue Project for the national television program. The crews filmed interviews with Herb Washington, a local McDonald’s restaurants operator and co-chair of the committee developing the statue, and Mike Shuba, son of the late George Shuba.

CBS also captured footage of the statue site in Wean Park downtown.

Meanwhile, another CBS crew captured footage of sculptor Marc Mellon working on the model for memorial in his studio in Redding, Conn.

The story will air in the upcoming weeks.

More information about the statue project is available at www.robinsonshuba.org.

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