George Shuba

From BR Bullpen

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George Thomas Shuba

  • Bats Left, Throws Right
  • Height 5' 11", Weight 180 lb.

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Biographical Information[edit]

George Shuba is often best remembered for his symbolic role in breaking down major league baseball's tenacious "color barrier." In 1946, he was captured in a legendary photograph shaking hands with Jackie Robinson, when the two were players for the Montreal Royals. The moment was widely described as "the first interracial handshake" in North American baseball's recent history.

The eleventh and youngest son of Slovakian immigrants who worked in the steel mills of Youngstown, OH, Shuba toiled in the minor leagues for many years after being signed in 1943 before making his debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1948. He served for seven seasons as a spare outfielder and lefthanded pinch hitter for the club. He did not earn a semi-regular job with the team until 1952, when he was already 28 and had been a hitting star in the minor leagues for years. For example, he slugged 21 homers and drove in 110 runs for the Mobile Bears in 1947, then hit .389 for them and .267 in 63 games for the Dodgers in 1948, but still did not make the major league team in 1949. The problem was that, for all his hitting prowess, Shuba was a relatively poor fielder in the outfield, the position where he could do the least damage.

At the peak of his playing career, Shuba delivered a pinch-hit home run in the 1953 World Series opener, tying a game which the New York Yankees later won, 9-5. It was only the second such home run ever hit in the World Series. Knee surgery reduced his effectiveness after that season, however. Shuba ended his career on the Dodgers' 1955 World Series-winning club. He earned the name "Shotgun" from a Birmingham, AL sports writer who said the balls coming off his bat sounded like shotgun blasts.

After his retirement, he returned to Youngstown where he married and started a family while working for the Postal Service. Although his beautiful hitting stroke looked perfectly natural, he later revealed to author Roger Kahn, in The Boys of Summer that it was the product of a lot of hard work, literally thousands of swings taken at a knotted rope with a weighted bat during the off-seasons he spent hauling bags of potatoes for a grocery store in his hometown.

He died in his hometown of Youngstown in 2014, a couple of months shy of his 90th birthday.

Notable Achievement[edit]

Further Reading[edit]

  • Roger Kahn: "The Bishop's Brother", in The Boys of Summer, Perennial Classics, Harper Collins Publishers, New York, NY, 2000, pp. 224-241 (originally published in 1972). [1]
  • George Shuba (as told to Greg Gulas): "The Game I'll Never Forget", Baseball Digest, October 2006, pp. 60-63. [2]

Related Sites[edit]