There are people whose contributions to baseball history went far beyond mere batting averages or stolen bases. They didn’t just play the game, they changed the game. For generations of American Jews and other minorities, they served as athletic, cultural, and ethical role models.
On March 13, 2014 the National Museum of American Jewish History will open a new exhibition, Chasing Dreams: Baseball and Becoming American, being billed as “the first large-scale exhibition to use the story of Jews and baseball as an opportunity to highlight ways in which our national pastime is part of the history, and ongoing story, of how immigrants and minorities of many different backgrounds—including Italians, Asians, Latinos, African-Americans, and many others—become American, to feel a part of the society in which they might otherwise be on the margins.”
Chasing Dreams is expected to feature more than 130 objects, including game-used objects, correspondence, newspaper accounts, board games, awards, baseball cards, signed baseballs, Jewish ritual objects, ballpark giveaways, stadium seats, Little League memorabilia, and more. Objects from the Museum’s collection will be complemented by loans from public and private collections, as well as the Museum’s public collecting initiative on Tumblr.
The exhibition will celebrate well-known Jewish heroes such as Hank Greenberg and Sandy Koufax and iconic baseball pioneers like Jackie Robinson, Joe DiMaggio, Roberto Clemente, and Ichiro Suzuki, as well as baseball’s extended family of vendors, team owners, minor leaguers, amateur players, scouts, broadcasters, journalists, novelists. and fans.
The exhibition is co-curated by Dr. Josh Perelman, chief curator and director of collections and exhibitions at National Museum of American Jewish History, and Ivy Weingram, associate curator. It will be on view at the Museum through October 26, 2014.
Photo: Hank Greenberg hitting a third inning homer against the Philadelphia Phillies, April 29, 1947 (Courtesy Corbis).