The baseball season is still in full swing at the Alliance’s Dwares Jewish Community Center, where two programs are scheduled this month as part of the “Chasing Dreams: Baseball & Becoming American” exhibit.
“Jews and Baseball: An American Love Story” will be screened on Nov. 15, and Rick Harris will present “Women and Baseball: A Short Story?!” on Nov. 27, both at 7 p.m. The exhibit itself continues through Dec. 15 at the JCC, at 401 Elmgrove Ave., Providence.
The documentary “Jews and Baseball: An American Love Story” celebrates the contributions of Jewish major leaguers and the special meaning that baseball has had in the lives of American Jews. It is narrated by Dustin Hoffman and features Sandy Koufax, Larry King, Kevin Youkilis, Shawn Green, Yogi Berra, Ron Howard and many others. Ken Burns, the well-known documentary filmmaker, remarked, “This is an insightful, moving film that helps to shatter stereotypes and preconceptions, and reminds us of the power of this seemingly simple stick-ball game to bring us all together.”
Richard “Rick” Harris will present an illustrated lecture and discussion about the role of women in baseball. Harris has also prepared a supplementary exhibit to “Chasing Dreams” that features some of his postcards from the late 19th and early 20th centuries depicting discrimination against women and African-Americans, as well as their early participation in the sport.
Harris is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research and the Rhode Island Historical Society and an adjunct professor at Rhode Island College and Salve Regina University, where he teaches social work, as well as courses on the sociological, historical and cultural aspects of baseball in America. He is also the author of “Rhode Island Baseball: The Early Years” (The History Press, 2008); “Brown University Baseball: A Legacy of the Game” (The History Press, 2012); “Newport Baseball History: America’s Pastime in the City by the Sea” (The History Press 2014); and four self-published books on baseball. Some of these books will be available for purchase at the JCC.
Highlights of the “Chasing Dreams” exhibit include an interactive baseball card database and a TV monitor that plays three original short films, each a few minutes long, in a continuous loop. Featured in the films are Charles Steinberg, president of the Pawtucket Red Sox, and the presidents and/or owners of a number of major league teams, including the Blue Jays, Giants, Nationals, Phillies, Rays, White Sox and Yankees.
A fully illustrated, 256-page companion book to the core exhibit is available for purchase. The book has original pieces by more than 40 notable authors, including John Thorn, the official historian of Major League Baseball, who often appears on ESPN, MLB, The History Channel and other television outlets as a sports authority and commentator; Ira Berkow, a former New York Times sports columnist and Pulitzer Prize winner for national reporting; and Doug Glanville, a retired major league player for the Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago Cubs and Texas Rangers, an ESPN baseball analyst and a regular contributor to ESPN.com and The New York Times.
Other exhibit-related merchandise is also available for purchase, including a set of baseball cards developed by Jewish Major Leaguers, Inc., and children’s books about baseball legends. A family guide to the exhibit is available for free.
School and religious groups are encouraged to reserve times for tours of the exhibit. Lesson plans are available for educators.
For more information about the exhibit and related programing at the Alliance’s Dwares JCC, email ChasingDreams@JewishAllianceRI.org. The free exhibit is open during regular JCC business hours.
LARRY KATZ is director of Jewish life and learning at the Jewish Alliance.