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Robinson-Shuba statue dedication delayed

Committee says COVID-19 is concern

YOUNGSTOWN — A committee has postponed dedication of the Robinson-Shuba Commemorative Statue, originally set for April, because of the continued proliferation of COVID-19.

The Robinson-Shuba Statue Committee expects to decide by mid-May on a new date in late summer.

“We look forward to dedicating the statue in Wean Park when the COVID-19 situation improves,” Ernie Brown, co-chair of the statue committee, said. “So we’re postponing our April 18 event in the best interest of the health and safety of the many we expect will attend. We look forward to setting a new date by mid-May.”

The April 18, 1946, handshake of Jackie Robinson, the first African American allowed to play in mainstream professional baseball, and George Shuba, his white teammate from Youngstown, was a landmark moment in the integration of baseball and, eventually, much of American life.

The 10 donors who provided the lion’s share of support for the statue will be recognized on a plaque at the site.

Led by the Marie Lamfrom Charitable Foundation, the Youngstown Foundation and the McDonald’s Restaurants of the Mahoning Valley and Western Pennsylvania, the 10 recognized donors collectively provided $380,000 of the $414,000 the committee raised, as well as critical in-kind services.

The donor list is:

• Platinum — Marie Lamfrom Charitable Foundation.

• Gold –Youngstown Foundation, McDonald’s Restaurants of the Mahoning Valley and Western Pennsylvania.

• Silver — Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley, J. Ford Crandall Memorial Foundation, Mahoning Valley Sports Charities, Premier Bank, Rotary Club of Youngstown, BSHM Architects, Pecchia Communications.

“We appreciate the enormous generosity of these donors and we think it’s safe to say the entire Mahoning Valley does, too,” Greg Gulas, co-chair of the statue committee, said. “These gifts will help ensure that future generations in our community — and beyond — understand the Robinson-Shuba handshake and the values it represents.”

By far the largest donation for the statue — $175,000 — came from the Oregon-based Marie Lamfrom Charitable Foundation. The foundation normally supports children’s causes in the Portland area but was moved to support the Youngstown statue after its leaders watched a CBS Sunday Morning story about it.

The circumstances around the handshake were significant. Robinson had swatted a three-run home run in his debut game with the Montreal Royals, an affiliate of the Brooklyn Dodgers. As he rounded third base and headed home, neither of the teammates who scored on the hit were waiting at home to congratulate him. Shuba, the batter on deck, noticed, so he hustled up to home plate to shake Robinson’s hand.

“George Shuba did the right thing, reflecting the values he learned as he grew up in Youngstown,” Brown said. “Thanks to dozens of large and small donors, this statue will be a monument to unity across racial lines, and to a Youngstown man’s important contribution to that goal.”

news@tribtoday.com

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