06/26/2006 10:30 AM ET
Pirates unveil Highmark Legacy Square at PNC Park
Permanent interactive exhibit honors history of Negro Leagues
The Pittsburgh Pirates today unveiled Highmark Legacy Square, a new permanent interactive exhibit to honor and preserve the history of the Negro Leagues and the great players from the Homestead Grays and Pittsburgh Crawfords.
The new exhibit, located inside the Left Field Gate Entrance at PNC Park, is unlike anything else found in Major League Baseball. The multiple elements of the interactive experience share the inspiring story of these remarkable athletes that helped revolutionize the sports and business world in their own way.
The Pirates partnered with Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield to build the permanent exhibit to educate baseball fans on the legacy of the Negro Leagues and the rich history of baseball in Pittsburgh. Edward Scheele, principle owner of ESA Design and designer of the Negro League Museum in Kansas City, and Rob Ruck, University of Pittsburgh professor and Negro Leagues historian, were called upon to help design the exhibit.
"Highmark Legacy Square will give our fans a unique educational experience that will carry on the legacy of the Negro Leagues and these great players for generations to come," said Kevin McClatchy, Pirates CEO and Managing General Partner. "It is important that this chapter in our game's history continue to be told. Our hope is that this exhibit inspires, educates and emotionally connects people of all ages to the game of baseball and, in particular, the remarkable story of the Negro Leagues."
The exhibit features life-size bronze statues of former Negro Leagues greats Cool Papa Bell, Oscar Charleston, Josh Gibson, Judy Johnson, Buck Leonard, Satchel Paige and Smokey Joe Williams. Each statue is accompanied by an interactive kiosk allowing fans to view a personal video and learn about the player's background, Hall of Fame honors and playing statistics.
The highlight of the exhibit is the Highmark Legacy Square Theatre, an indoor 25 seat movie theatre that presents the legacy of the Negro Leagues on many interactive levels.
The theatre features an interactive "chatting wall" that was created by the Entertainment Technology Center at Pittsburgh's Carnegie Mellon University. As guests enter the theatre and pass in front of a wall mural of fans, built in motion sensors prompt one of six flat screen monitors to turn on and bring the fans to life. The visitor will see and hear from baseball fans what it was like to attend games played in the Negro Leagues, learn about the personalities of the players, and be entertained by the retelling of the folklore that surrounded Negro Leagues baseball in Pittsburgh.
The Highmark Legacy Square Theatre also features a photograph timeline of segregated baseball in America and how it paralleled baseball history in Pittsburgh, as well as a video presentation titled BUILDING A LEGACY: Pittsburgh and the Negro Leagues.
The 12-minute presentation begins with the introduction from life-size wax figures of Homestead Grays owner Cumberland Posey and Pittsburgh Crawfords owner Gus Greenlee. The figures appear in a baseball diamond diorama behind a chicken wire backstop. A video screen is then lowered and a film is played showcasing the history of the Homestead Grays and Pittsburgh Crawfords.
The film, which is narrated by Major League Baseball Hall of Famer and current ESPN personality Joe Morgan, is a blend of historical narrative, rare movie footage and first person interviews with journalist Mal Goode, local baseball legend Harold Tinker, Negro Leagues and Major League player Monte Irwin, Pittsburgh Crawfords player Clarence Bruce and Cumberland Posey's daughter, Oldie Posey Striblin.
"Two weeks ago we unveiled our redefined philanthropic arm, Pirates Charities, and our refocused commitment to promoting youth health, fitness and education. Highmark Legacy Square is about the educational aspect of this commitment," said McClatchy. "We are proud to be able to partner with Highmark on this project and remain focused on continuing to enhance and improve the fan experience at PNC Park."