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Your Morning Matters: I’m learning a lot about Jackie Robinson statues

More than 4,000 colorful valentines were delivered to assisted-living facilities from Valley students taking part in the Don’t Fall for Me campaign.

Good morning and welcome to Your Morning Matters.

It’s Friday, Feb. 14, 2020, and when author Roger Kahn died last week, some folks were reminded of his stories about Youngstown's George “Shotgun” Shuba that Kahn included in his epic Brooklyn Dodgers book "The Boys of Summer."

Shuba has been in the news lately as the Robinson-Shuba Commemorative Statue Committee is looking to fund a statue commemorating the 1946 handshake of Jackie Robinson, the first African American Major League Baseball player, and Shuba, his white teammate. The committee aims to dedicate it April 18, 2021, the 75th anniversary of what some have called "the handshake of the century" after Robinson's first MLB home run.

On Feb. 7, Joe Posnanski of The Athletic wrote

"When I heard Roger died, for some reason, my mind immediately traveled to the chapter he wrote about George “Shotgun” Shuba, a relatively minor member of those Boys of Summer. Shuba was a good hitter who was famously (and self-consciously) sketchy in the field. This was 20 years after the Boys of Summer, they were both middle-aged men, and Kahn was praising Shuba for being such a natural hitter. Shuba was unimpressed by the analysis. “Ah,” he said, “you talk like a sportswriter.”

Then he took Kahn to the basement, where he had baseball bats filled with lead. He’d swing those heavy bats again and again, 600 times a night, 4,200 times a week, 47,200 swings every winter.

“You call that natural?” Shuba said.

I thank media mogul Dan Pecchia for the tip. Meanwhile, Dean Sweetwood, creator of geniuses (and my dad), is following the Robinson-Shuba Commemorative Statue Committee developments and writes from Florida to share with retired Vindicator Regional Editor Ernie Brown and the committee information about the Robinson statue in Daytona Beach. There, "Robinson played in the first integrated Major League Baseball spring training game in 1946," according to Daytonabeach.com.

That led me to "From Pitch to Plinth: The Sporting Statues Project" database where I discovered there are nine Robinson statues from California to Connecticut! That's a lot of research — and name-dropping — for a Friday! Happy Valentine's Day and have a great weekend!

And now, more of the things you need to know about what's happening in the Mahoning Valley:

More than 4,000 colorful valentines were delivered to assisted-living facilities — complete with a list of fall prevention tips — from Valley students taking part in the Don’t Fall for Me campaign.

The Ohio Department of Aging, with assistance from Direction Home of Eastern Ohio, asked area educators to help spread the lesson to students that they can help their grandparents, aunts, uncles and other relatives by picking up their toys, turning on lights and even offering to take a walk with their loved one to get exercise.

Other matters

The state Senate unanimously passed a bill aimed at strengthening penalties for motorists who violate laws near school buses. The School Bus Safety Act would increase the maximum fine from $500 to $1,000 for motorists who improperly pass a stopped school bus. Mahoning Matters

Chaney High School seniors Marquise and Marquan Herron are sticking together, choosing the University of Charleston in West Virginia’s state capital to continue their football careers. A third triplet, Marshall Herron, is staying home and intends to walk on at Youngstown State University. Mahoning Matters

Raymond Briya — a key witness in the corruption cases against ex-Youngstown Finance Director David Bozanich and developer Dominic Marchionda — admitted he illegally provided financial benefits, aka bribes. He’s also helping prosecutors in the case of former Youngstown Mayor Charles Sammarone. The Vindicator

About five months after suffering a heart attack on the job, Cortland police officer Nicholas Mancini will return to duty. Cortland police chief David Morris said Mancini's first shift back is scheduled for Feb. 19. WKBN

Former City of Campbell Police Chief Dennis Puskarcik, 62, accepted a plea deal in Campbell Municipal Court by pleading no contest to a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct. The judge handed Puskarcik a $150 fine plus court costs. WFMJ

In case you missed it

McClatchy Co., the owner and operator of Mahoning Matters, filed for bankruptcy Thursday, seeking to restructure its debts and shed pension obligations as it looks to build a sustainable digital future. Mahoning Matters, which was founded last October with startup funding from Google, will continue to operate normally.

Your comments matter

“Unfortunately this isn’t contained in just this facility.”

— Patricia Hayek, on a civil complaint filed against Windsor House Inc. of Girard.

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Event of the day

Youngstown State University’s Department of Theatre and Dance will present “A Kiss To Build a Dream On: Valentine’s Day Cabaret” at 7 p.m. tonight at B&O Station Banquet Center, 530 Mahoning Ave., Youngstown. For more information, call 330-941-2307.

To see what else is going on around the Mahoning Valley, check out Mahoning Matters’ event calendar here, or click the Events tab on the top menu at mahoningmatters.com.

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