NYT: George Shuba, 89, dies; handshake heralded racial tolerance in baseball

From Richard Goldstein at the New York Times on September 30, 2014:

George Shuba, the Brooklyn Dodgers outfielder who played in three World Series during the 1950s but who was best remembered for his welcoming gesture to Jackie Robinson at home plate on the day Robinson, as a minor leaguer, broke baseball’s color barrier, died on Monday at his home in Youngstown, Ohio. He was 89.

His son, Michael, confirmed the death.

Playing in Brooklyn for seven seasons, Shuba was usually a backup, but he had his moments. Known as Shotgun for his ability to spray line drives, like buckshot, out of his left-handed batting stance, he batted .305 for the Dodgers’ 1952 National League pennant-winner. He was the first National Leaguer to hit a pinch-hit homer in the World Series, connecting for a two-run drive off Allie Reynolds at Yankee Stadium in Game 1 of the 1953 Series.

But his career was most pointedly defined in Jersey City, by an image at home plate at Roosevelt Stadium two years before Shuba made his major league debut.

On the afternoon of April 18, 1946, Robinson became the first black player in modern organized baseball when he made his debut with the Dodgers’ Montreal Royals farm team in their International League opener against the Jersey City Giants.

In the third inning, Robinson hit a three-run homer over the left-field fence. When he completed his trip around the bases, Shuba, the Royals’ left fielder and their next batter, shook his hand.

Congratulating a home-run hitter was a commonplace ritual, but Shuba’s welcome to a smiling Robinson was captured in an Associated Press photograph that has endured as a portrait of racial tolerance.

Read the full article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/01/sports/baseball/george-shuba-whose-handshake-heralded-racial-tolerance-in-baseball-dies-at-89.html

Originally published: October 2, 2014. Last Updated: October 2, 2014.