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Ground broken for Robinson-Shuba statue

Staff report

YOUNGSTOWN — Developers of the Robinson-Shuba Commemorative Statue have hired a contractor and broken ground at the statue site in Wean Park downtown.

North Lima-based Brock & Associates Builders Inc. will serve as general contractor for the project, which includes a set of concrete walkways, a concrete base and seating to support programming at the memorial.

“We are very excited and proud to be a part of this statue project and everything the Robinson-Shuba handshake meant for baseball and for the country,” Brian Brock, company president, said. “We’re also glad to see so many improvements taking shape in downtown Youngstown.”

Brock also serves as general contractor for the Youngstown State Excellence Training Center now under construction on Fifth Avenue and served the same role in the building of the Youngstown Foundation Amphitheater in Wean Park in 2019.

The unveiling of the Robinson-Shuba statue had been set for April 18 — the 75th anniversary of the 1946 handshake it celebrates — but that was postponed because of COVID-19. A new date will be announced in May.

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 and, eventually, much of American life.

Robinson had just hit 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 waiting on deck, noticed this, so he hustled up to home plate to shake Robinson’s hand.

“George Shuba stepped up at a time when many in America and some on his own team did not accept the notion of a black athlete participating,” Ernie Brown, co-chair of the committee developing the statue, said. “His gesture is a source of pride in Youngstown.”

Greg Gulas, another co-chair of the group, added, “The Robinson-Shuba handshake was a historic moment in sports, and we’re very excited about installing this statue soon. It will remind generations of visitors from Youngstown and beyond that race should never divide us on the baseball field or anywhere.”

More information about the statue and its history is available at the statue campaign website, www.robinsonshuba.org.

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