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ESPN shoots footage in Youngstown for story on Robinson-Shuba handshake, statue

“The Robinson-Shuba handshake marked a monumental moment in American history, and we're glad to see it drawing the high-level recognition it deserves,” Greg Gulas, co-chair of the statue committee, said.
Derrick McDowell - ESPN
Derrick McDowell, community engagement and inclusion coordinator for the Wean Park Complex, was among those interviewed by an ESPN crew Tuesday in Youngstown. (Contributed photo)

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

The story is scheduled to run before April 18, the 75th anniversary of the 1946 handshake of Jackie Robinson, the first Black player 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 statue will be installed this summer. Separate footage was shot at the New York foundry preparing to cast the statue. 

The Robinson-Shuba story is part of the ESPN Black History Always content initiative powered by The Undefeated, the content platform by ESPN exploring the intersection of sports, race and culture. The story will debut on The Undefeated’s website, and will air across ESPN media platforms.  

"We're very excited about seeing the statue — and the city of Youngstown — in the national spotlight again," Greg Gulas, former Youngstown State University sports information director and co-chair of the statue committee, said in a news release. "The Robinson-Shuba handshake marked a monumental moment in American history, and we're glad to see it drawing the high-level recognition it deserves." 

Ernie Brown, retired Vindicator regional editor and co-chair of the statue committee, said, "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 memorial 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.

More information about the statue project is available here.
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