ESPN Crew Films Story on Robinson-Shuba Statue

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — An ESPN production crew was in the city Tuesday filming a story about the historic Robinson-Shuba handshake and the downtown statue that will commemorate it. 

The story is scheduled to run shortly before April 18, the 75th anniversary of the 1946 handshake of Jackie Robinson, the first Black baseball player to play in the modern minor and major baseball leagues, and George Shuba, his White teammate from Youngstown.

The ESPN crew interviewed Mike Shuba, George’s son; Herb Washington, local McDonald’s restaurant operator and co-chair of the committee developing the statue; and Derrick McDowell, community engagement and inclusion coordinator for the Wean Park complex, where the 7-foot statue will be installed this summer. Separate footage was shot at the New York foundry that is preparing to cast the statue, which was created by sculptor Marc Mellon. 

 The Robinson-Shuba story is part of ESPN’s Black History Always initiative, which explores the intersection of sports, race and culture. The story will debut on The Undefeated digital hub,, and air across all ESPN media platforms, according to Dan Pecchia of Pecchia Communications, which represents the statue committee.

“We’re very excited about seeing the statue, and the city of Youngstown, in the national spotlight again,” said Greg Gulas, former Youngstown State University sports information director and co-chair of the statue committee. A segment on the statue aired in September on CBS newsmagazine show “Sunday Morning.”

Ernie Brown, retired Vindicator regional editor and co-chair of the statue committee, added, “The Robinson-Shuba handshake is a source of pride for Youngstown, and the statue will be as well. It will be a large, impressive reminder about the importance of unity and teamwork across racial lines, not only in sports but in all aspects of society.” 

The statue committee had hoped to dedicate the $400,000 memorial on April 18 to mark the handshake’s 75th anniversary, but it postponed the event out of concerns over COVID-19. The group expects to decide by mid-May on a new date in late summer.

Pictured: Herb Washington, local McDonald’s restaurant operator and co-chair of the committee developing the Robinson-Shuba Commemorative Statue, was among those interviewed by an ESPN crew Tuesday in Youngstown.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.