Exhibit tells story of African-Americans in baseball

August 30, 2011

MIDDLETOWN, Pa. -- “Pride and Passion: The African-American Baseball Experience,” a new traveling exhibition at the Penn State Harrisburg Library opens Aug. 31 and runs through Oct. 14. “Pride and Passion”examines the challenges faced by African-American baseball players as they sought equal opportunities in their sport after the Civil War. The exhibition features photographs of teams, players, original documents and artifacts in the collections of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum and other institutions.

The library also will host several presentations, all free and open to the public, in conjunction with the exhibition. Noted author and illustrator Kadir Nelson, who wrote “We are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball,” will speak at 12:30 p.m. Sept. 7, in the library’s Morrison Gallery. At 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 8, Negro Leagues historian Geralyn Strecker will present a program on Oscar Charleston, considered one of the all-time greatest baseball players. Charleston briefly played with the Harrisburg Giants. Jim Weedon, a Harrisburg resident and former Harrisburg Giants player, also will be on hand. At 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 15, the library will feature writer and filmmaker Donn Rogosin, author of “Invisible Men: Life in Baseball’s Negro Leagues.”

Jackie Robinson broke the 20th-century color barrier in baseball and made history in 1947 when he was called up by the Brooklyn Dodgers. But that achievement also marked the beginning of the end of the Negro leagues era. “Pride and Passion” tells the story of how black baseball players, shut out of the major leagues in the late 19th century, organized their own clubs, and in the 1920s, formed their own leagues, which grew into a multi-million dollar enterprise and a source of pride in the African-American community. Legendary figures like Rube Foster, Oscar Charleston and Satchel Paige, and teams like the Chicago American Giants, Kansas City Monarchs, and Pittsburgh Crawfords developed the Negro leagues’ reputation for power-hitting, fast-running baseball, and paved the way for players like Jackie Robinson.

“We are delighted to have been selected as a site for this exhibition,” said Gregory Crawford, library director. “Players in the Negro leagues were some of the most talented and inspiring sports figures of their day. This exhibition shows that, in spite of segregation, black players helped advance baseball in many ways. The Kansas City Monarchs developed the first successful lighting system for night games – carrying their own generators and light stands with them on the road – five years before Major League Baseball played its first night game. The exhibition tells many more remarkable stories of players and teams who persevered in a sport they loved.”

The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum and the American Library Association Public Programs Office organized the traveling exhibition, made possible by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH): great ideas brought to life. The exhibition is based upon one of the same name on permanent display at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.

For details, call 717-948-6079 or visit the library website.


  • Satchel Paige at his 1971 induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame

    IMAGE: Courtesy of National Baseball Hall of Fame Library

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated August 31, 2011