Yesterday’s New York Times carried the obituary of George Shuba, the man shown below shaking the hand of Jackie Robinson, the first black player in professional baseball, when they both played for the Montreal Royals . The Royals were the farm team of the Brooklyn Dodgers.
On April 18, 1946, Robinson hit a home run in the Royals’ season opener against the Jersey Giants. Shuba went to the plate to shake Robinson’s hand as he finished rounding the bases. Sixty years later, Shuba would say: “I couldn’t care less if Jackie was Technicolor. As far as I was concerned, he was a great ballplayer – our best. I had no problem going to the plate to shake his hand instead of waiting for him to come by me in the on-deck circle.”
Shuba and Robsinon both went on to the major leagues, where Shuba had a respectable performance before returning to his home town of Yougstown, Ohio, where he worked as a postal clerk. He would probably have been forgotten to history had it not been for this picture, but I’d have to say that he was, in his own way, one of the greats.
Sadly this moment occurred at Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City. It would have been a great Canadian moment had it occurred in Montreal, a time in Robinson’s career that was sadly overlooked in the recent biopic “42”.