Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Will George Shuba Get Snubbed?


In 2007, I wrote a blog post focused on an important barrier breaking event related to the breaking of Baseball's color-line.  And no, I'm not talking about the Pee Wee Reese arm-over-the-shoulder event.  Instead, I mentioned an instance that occurred a year before Pee Wee's famous embrace. 

In 1946, George Shuba had shook the hand of a black man, in what had been described as the first interracial handshake in professional Baseball.  Of course, this is a bit of a dubious claim since the term professional would include paid-for-play barnstorming ballplayers, and interracial games and mixed-race teams were not that uncommon prior to Jackie Robinson's rise to fame.  Still, when it comes to Major League play (including the minors) this moment has some resonance.

Unfortunately, this innocuous act by Shuba has seemingly disappeared from the history books.  Rarely is it spoken about in the same breath as Pee Wee's moment, and as one commentator has noted, it is likely this event will be passed over in the upcoming Jackie Robinson movie, '42'. 

From a comment left by an anonymous reader:
I just received the official movie novel book by scholastic.

I wanted to see where they have the Handshake moment in it, well guess what, it's not in the book . Wow.. They just didn't talk about George shaking Jackie's hand at all...like the moment never happened ! The Book says "Jackie was not in a hurry running the bases, especially with two of this teammates making their way ahead of him. Both of them turned and waited for him once they'd crossed home plate, and shook his hand as he joined them" well this never happened , the two so called teammates did not shake Jackie's hand, they crossed home plate about 15 feet away and turned and watched to see if George "Shotgun" Shuba would shake Jackie's hand, they did not shake Jackie's hand, they didn't want to. So looks like someone has History wrong, just look at the associated press photo's web page and you can see a wide angle photo of the moment, it clearly shows the two so called teammates back from homeplate, one on his knees behind the other watching ,waiting to see if George would do it.
All I can say is this is unfortunate.  I can understand making Reese's embrace a major focal point, but I do not understand why Shuba's act is glossed over.  I guess it's all about the remaking of history to fit within the short attention spans of todays entertainment obsessed culture.

Sure, the new Robinson movie will likely be awesome and worthy of your time, but please keep in mind that it will not provide the full story- just a simplified version of it.

BTW, the pic above is of that handshake and is taken from Shuba's official website, here.

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