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Robinson-Shuba statue on deck for its unveiling

Zack VanGieser of Leetonia, laborer with general contractor Brock Builders of N. Lima, indicate where more top soil needs to be placed as The Robinson-Shuba Commemorative Statue project in Wean Park in downtown Youngstown takes shape before the upcoming dedication...by R. Michael Semple

Staff report

YOUNGSTOWN — The Robinson-Shuba Commemorative Statue has arrived in Youngstown and is being readied for its unveiling and dedication July 17, as part of the Youngstown State University Summer Festival of the Arts in Wean Park.

Right now it’s under wraps but in place as some landscaping work continues at the site. The statue, a monument to racial equality, will be unveiled in a 9 a.m. ceremony to open the two-day festival, which will take place in Wean Park for the first time.

“We look forward to a great unveiling on Saturday, and we hope everybody will come out. It’s free and part of the festival of the arts,” said Ernie Brown, a statue project co-chair, along with Greg Gulas and Herb Washington.

Ten donors who provided the lion’s share of support for the statue will be recognized on a plaque at the site. Fundraising exceeded the $400,000 goal set by the Robinson-Shuba Commemorative Statue Committee.

Brown said the committee thanks all who went to New York this week to get the statue, such as AIM Leasing, and those who donated to the project. North Lima-based Brock & Associates Builders Inc. was general contractor for the project, which includes a set of concrete walkways, a concrete base and seating.

Even Brown said he has not yet seen the finished statue. “We really want it to be unveiled on the 17th,” he said, noting the site is impressive.

The handshake of Jackie Robinson, the first African-American in mainstream professional baseball, and George “Shotgun” Shuba, his white teammate from Youngstown, was a landmark moment in the integration of baseball.

Sculptor Marc Mellon’s larger-than-life bronze statue was cast at the Bedi-Makky Art Foundry in Brooklyn, N.Y., which is known worldwide for crafting the Iwo Jima Memorial near Washington, D.C., and the Charging Bull in the New York financial district.

Situated in Wean Park, between the Covelli Centre and the Youngstown Foundation Amphitheatre, the memorial will stand nearly 7 feet tall above its base and be surrounded by the seating that supports programming about racial equality.

“A Handshake for the Century” marked a monumental moment in American sports and culture.

It happened on April 18, 1946, after Robinson — the first black player in modern organized baseball — hit a three-run home run 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.

Youngstown’s Shuba, Brown said, “stepped up and did the right thing.”

news@vindy.com

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