Ground Broken for Robinson-Shuba Statue in Wean Park

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – A ceremonial groundbreaking took place Thursday at Wean Park, downtown, for the Robinson-Shuba commemorative statue project.

Brock & Associates Builders of North Lima, general contractor for the $400,000 project, will now begin site preparation work, according to a press release. The project will include a set of concrete walkways, a concrete base for the statue, and seating to support programming. 

“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 in a press release. “We’re also glad to see so many improvements taking shape in downtown Youngstown.”

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

The statue was created by Connecticut-based sculptor Marc Mellon. 

The handshake of Jackie Robinson, the first Black 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.

The circumstances around the handshake were significant. 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,” said Ernie Brown, co-chair of the committee developing the statue. “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.”

Information about the statue and its history is available at the statue campaign website, RobinsonShuba.org.

Brock & Associates Builders also serves as general contractor for the Youngstown State University Excellence Training Center, now under construction downtown, and served the same role in building the Youngstown Foundation Amphitheater in Wean Park in 2019. 

Pictured: On-hand for the ground-breaking were Julius Oliver, Youngstown 1st Ward Councilman; Kate Spires, architect with BSHM Architects; Mike Shuba, son of George Shuba; statue project co-chairs Ernie Brown, Greg Gulas and Herb Washington; Youngstown Mayor Jamael Tito Brown; Brian Brock, president of Brock & Associates Builders Inc.; and Nick Chretien, program manager for the Economic Action Group. (Image: Pecchia Communications)

Copyright 2021 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.