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Local statue project gets exposure on national TV

Submitted photo Herb Washington, left, co-chair of the Robinson-Shuba Commemorative Statue Committee, chats with Mike Shuba about the statue as a “CBS Sunday Morning” crew member records their talk. The crew was in Youngstown this week to work on a feature story about the statue portraying baseball Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson and George Shuba, Mike’s late father.

YOUNGSTOWN — Crews from “CBS Sunday Morning” were in Youngstown on Monday and Tuesday 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, who will be portrayed in the statue shaking hands with his teammate, baseball Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson.

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 the larger-than-life bronze memorial in his studio in Redding, Conn.

The story will air in the upcoming weeks.

“This is tremendous exposure for the statue project and a demonstration of how right it is for our times,” said Dan Pecchia of Canfield, a member of the project committee and president of Pecchia Communications, a public relations firm donating its services for the project. “It’s also great exposure for Youngstown and another opportunity to reinforce our image as a community where people get along across racial lines.”

The statue will celebrate the 1946 Robinson-Shuba handshake, which reflected Robinson’s courage and Shuba’s rejection of the racism of his day, Pecchia said.

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.

“That handshake said a lot about George Shuba and the way he was raised in Youngstown,” Pecchia said. “While many hated the idea of a black man in pro ball, George had great respect for Jackie Robinson and wasn’t afraid to show it. His gesture during an era of open racism is a huge source of pride for many in Youngstown.”

The statue committee has raised more than a third of the project’s $400,000 price tag and is still pursuing contributions from local foundations, institutions and individuals. More information about the statue, the handshake, Robinson and Shuba is available at the project website, www.robinsonshuba.org.

news@tribtoday.com

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