After several years of fundraising and creative planning, a new dedication to legendary Jackie Robinson and former teammate George Shuba has been unveiled in Youngstown, Ohio. The monument shows what the world knows as “a handshake of the century”, the first handshake between Black and white players on a professional baseball diamond.
In 1946 Jackie Robinson wasn’t a star, yet – he was a rookie in the minor leagues, trying to prove he belonged. Jackie took a hanging curveball and launched it high and far, and as he crossed home plate, the on-deck batter, George Shuba was waiting with an outstretched hand. Mike Shuba, George’s son, says, “I try to let everybody know that George didn’t know Jackie was going to hit a home run, and he didn’t ask to be the next batter up.” During that time when it came to racial discourse, the loudest tone prevailed, but Shuba reacted in a human way to his teammate. His humble gesture to his fellow teammate did not go unnoticed; A photographer captured it, and today – with help from many in the community including NECA and the IBEW worked together to perfect the in-person recreation.
Youngstown community leader Derek McDowell says, “I do think a statue like this is needed for a number of reasons, simply because we’re a diverse makeup doesn’t mean we always know how to celebrate that diversity. And also we long sort of forget our own history. So we need to be reminded that someone from Youngstown is cut from a cloth that did the right thing and the right moment by shaking Jackie Robinson’s hand and introducing his humanity back into the sport of baseball.”
The statue lighting was provided by NECA Contractor Santon Electric and IBEW Locals 64 and 573. Through the efforts of the Youngstown community, countless baseball fans, and a dedicated team of creatives, the handshake of the century will remain a part of physical history for years to come.