Monday, September 29, 2014

RIP, George Shuba


Former Brooklyn Dodger George "Shotgun" Shuba has passed away at the age of 89 at his home in Youngstown, OH.  RIP, George Shuba.  As you may know, he was recognized for the first inter-racial handshake in modern professional Baseball.  Per Mark Langill at Dodger Insider:
But the teammate was Jackie Robinson, the African-American infielder who that afternoon was breaking the sport’s color barrier. Photographers captured a smiling Robinson shaking hands with Shuba after Robinson’s three-run home run in the third inning against Jersey City pitcher Warren Sandell. Only seconds before the handshake, the Montreal third-base coach conveniently turned his back and walked away from the base. Shuba didn’t give his actions a second thought.

“Our teammate hit a home run, so I shook his hand,” he said. “It didn’t make any difference to me that Jackie was black. He was a great player, and I was glad to have him on the team.”
As I had written a number of years ago, Jackie called George later on to thank him.  This was his response:
‘‘He called me later and thanked me,’’ Shuba said. ‘‘And I said, what for?"... ‘‘I said, ‘Are you on our team? Are you on our side? OK then.’ ’’
Shuba received his nickname, per Roger Kahn, for
"spraying line drives (like when you shoot a shotgun) with a swing so compact that it appeared as natural as a smile".
You can check out his personal website here: GeorgeShuba.com.  Per a Dodger press release:
It was George who extended his hand, "A Handshake for the Century", in offering congratulations near home plate to Jackie Robinson, his Montreal Royals teammate, who hit a home run on Opening Day 1946 at Roosevelt City in Jersey City.  Robinson, the African-American infielder, was breaking the sport’s color barrier that afternoon.

Photographers captured a smiling Robinson shaking hands with Shuba after Robinson’s three-run home run in the third inning against Jersey City pitcher Warren Sandell. (photo at top)

Shuba’s nickname was born after someone compared his line drives to the sound of buckshot. Shuba compiled a lifetime .259 batting average in 355 games with Brooklyn from 1948-55 with 24 home runs and 125 RBI. He was the first National League pinch-hitter to hit a home run in World Series history, connecting against the Yankees in 1953.

Shuba returned to Dodger Stadium in 2005 when the club staged a 50th anniversary celebration of the team’s first and only championship in Brooklyn. Twelve of the 13 living members attended: Shuba, Carl Erskine, Roger Craig, Bob Borkowski, Don Newcombe, Johnny Podres, Clem Labine, Sandy Koufax, Ed Roebuck, Don Zimmer, Tommy Lasorda and Duke Snider (the only player not present was Billy Loes).

Shuba is survived by his wife, Kathryn, his son, Michael, daughters Marlene and Marykay and his sister, Helen.

Funeral services are pending.

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1 comment:

  1. He was a great player with his expertise at being an outfielder and left-handed pinch hitter. One could never forget the impact he left as he signaled racial tolerance in Baseball by shaking the hand of Jackie Robinson. Such a great man indeed. Deepest condolences to his surviving family. He will be missed. RIP View our tribute memorial for him http://www.thememorium.com/Memorials/george-shuba

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