WV students to visit Historic Negro Leagues Béisbol Exhibit - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

West Virginia students to visit Historic Negro Leagues Béisbol Exhibit

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Negro Leagues Béisbol: African American Baseball and Hispanic Culture, 1860-1960

Schedule

• The general public will be admitted to see the exhibit from 1:30-7 p.m., Tuesdays and Thursdays, between Sept. 18 and Oct. 28. 

• The general public will be admitted from 8:15 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. 

• School students will be admitted to see the exhibit from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays. 

• Three films will be shown continuously, from 10 a.m. through 6 p.m., Monday, Sept. 19.

• “There Was Always Sun Shining Someplace: Life in the Negro Baseball Leagues”

• “Only the Ball was White: A History of Legendary Black Players and the All-Black Professional Teams”

• “Baseball’s Been Very, Very Good to Me: Minnie Minoso Story”

Not long ago, rampant racial segregation existed in the United States of America.

It’s a part of our nation’s history the younger generation must be aware of and learn from, said Robert Waterson, director of the West Virginia University Center for Democracy and Citizenship Education.

That’s why he is bringing the exhibit, “Negro Leagues Béisbol: African American Baseball and Hispanic Culture, 1860-1960,” to the school’s Morgantown campus. 

The opening day ceremony for the display is set for 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 18 at Erickson Alumni Center. The exhibit will remain open through Oct. 28.

“It’s a challenge to get people to realize what it was really like then,” Waterson said. “But when you see these artifacts, these photos and incredible exhibits, you really feel what it was like in that culture and that atmosphere.”

Waterson said learning from that turbulent era in our country’s history may help in resolving current issues with race relations.

“It’s important, even when it’s not convenient or comfortable, to talk about history — in this instance, Hispanic culture and the Negro Leagues,” Waterson said. “It’s rarely discussed and never taught. It’s important to recognize this and not let it fade away.

“We can’t let part of history slip away,” he added. “There’s a tendency to do that.”

The exhibit focuses on Spanish-speaking players in the Negro Leagues and how they helped shape the game. It features photographs and bilingual text, videos and artifacts focusing on the connection between the Negro Leagues and Spanish-speaking countries. 

“Bringing the Negro Leagues Béisbol program and its story to Morgantown will help our youth identify and relate to specific events that have helped define us as a nation and a people,” said Robert Kendrick, Negro Leagues Baseball Museum president. “This program will remind us of our tremendous responsibility we hold as American citizens to respect and be tolerant of all people despite assumed differences.”

Jackie Robinson is famously known for breaking the color barrier by becoming the first African American to play Major League Baseball, signing with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. But Waterson points out Minnie Minoso became the Robinson of black Latin players when he was signed by the Cleveland Indians in 1948. Minoso later became known for his playing days with the Chicago White Sox.

Calling Minoso one of the most overlooked players in sports history “is probably the understatement of the world,” Waterson said. “Beyond his statistics, what he did for baseball is unquestioned.”

When Waterson learned there was a new exhibit available honoring Minoso, he said the idea struck him “like a bolt of lightning.”

“I’m not real providential, but as a little boy growing up in northern Indiana I had a little transistor radio,” Waterson said. “I would listen to White Sox games in my bedroom late at night on WGN Radio. I will never forget that. It’s embedded in my mind.

“I was so impressed by the play-by-play. Whenever Minnie Minoso would come up to bat, I’d sit up in my bed because I knew something exciting was about to happen. He played with flair.”

Waterson said he knew he needed to bring those stories to the university.

“Pédro Sierra was the last Hispanic player signed out of the Negro Leagues to sign a Major League Baseball contract,” he said.

Sierra is scheduled to appear at the exhibit’s Opening Day.

More than 900 West Virginia high school and middle school students are expected to tour the exhibit during its two-month stay.

Waterson said his CDCE students at WVU will benefit from the experience as well. 

“I don’t want to stand up in a classroom and pontificate for three hours each week,” he said. “I want to get (students) involved, bringing them into the real world of teaching and education.”

Waterson described the subject matter as “phenomenal” and called the exhibit and the artifacts “astonishing.” 

“I view this program as an outstanding opportunity to reach many people in our rural areas and within our schools to help stimulate a greater desire to learn more about the challenges of past generations and relate it to our world today,” he said. “This is in direct alignment with the WVU 2020 Strategic Plan in helping students become leaders with wisdom and integrity, which will help prepare them for the most important position they will hold in life, as a citizen.”

This story first appeared in the print edition of The State Journal. Click HERE to subscribe.

WVU Center for Democracy and Citizenship Education

The WVU Center for Democracy and Citizenship Education provides civic education programs for West Virginia educators to utilize for the purpose of creating and implementing innovative and interactive opportunities for students.

By purchasing relevant books and materials, the CDCE provides an opportunity for literacy development for students as well as helping teachers address specific content standards and objectives. 

Teacher workshops for in-service and pre-service teachers are provided by educators from the CDCE, the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, and the invited historians. 

After the training, these teachers will provide for their students valuable and historically sound lessons using literacy materials to address a dark period of our world history.

— WVU Center for Democracy and Citizenship Education 

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