Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County
Rochester, NY, May 2, 2013 - The Rochester Public Library is honored to host “Pride and Passion: The African American Baseball Experience,” an exhibit that is up through June 14 at the Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County, 115 South Ave. “Pride and Passion” is a traveling version of a permanent installation of the same name at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, NY. The display is composed of colorful, free standing panels featuring photographs of teams, players and original documents, all examining the challenges faced by African American baseball players as they sought equal opportunities in their sport beginning in the post Civil War era.
In the 1880s more than 30 African Americans were on teams in baseball’s major and minor leagues, but opportunities for them to play diminished as Reconstruction ended and segregation became entrenched as part of American culture. By the 1920s black baseball had its own successful professional leagues and Negro League baseball grew into a multi-million dollar enterprise and a focus of great pride in the African American community. Teams like the Chicago American Giants; Kansas City Monarchs; St. Louis Stars; Pittsburgh Crawfords and Homestead Grays developed a reputation for hard hitting, fast running games. Legendary figures such as Rube Foster, Buck Leonard, Oscar Charleston, James “Cool Papa” Bell, Josh Gibson and Satchel Paige thrilled audiences and helped pave the way for integration of the major leagues in 1947 when Jackie Robinson broke records and the color barrier in 1947. The Rochester Public Library is celebrating the struggles and achievements of these players with a month long salute to baseball with additional exhibits and events.
An opening reception for “Pride and Passion” will take place on Sunday May 5 at the Central Library, Rundel Building from 2 to 4 p.m. Keynote speaker, former Mayor William Johnson’s will speak on baseball and segregation and actor Greg Kenney will perform his one man show “Jackie: Cross the Line” taking visitors through the life of Jackie Robinson.
The festivities will include free hot dogs, Cracker Jacks and other stadium snacks. A raffle for a family four pack of tickets to a Rochester Red Wings game will be held and kids can spin a wheel for other prizes. Wear your uniform and step into the photo booth to create your own baseball card! This event is free and open to the public.
The baseball theme continues throughout the month with an entire series of events: lunchtime discussions about the Negro Leagues and baseball history; Pride and Passion Night at Frontier Field, including a vintage baseball game; and several appearances by actor Greg Kenney in his one man show “Jackie: Cross the Line”. See a full listing of events and times at www.libraryweb.org/pride&passion or call 428-7300 for more information.
The National Baseball Hall of Fame and the American Library Association Public Programs Office, organized the traveling exhibit, which was made possible by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. We gratefully acknowledge our generous local sponsors; The Friends and Foundation of the Rochester Public Library; The Rochester Baseball Historical Society; The Rochester Red Wings , Eileen K. Riedman, John and Barbara Lovenheim; M&T Bank; M/E Engineering; Popli Design Group; Dixon Schwabl; WDKX 103.9; and the Rochester Youth Baseball Coalition.