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Playing Through

exhibit showcases history of African American baseball

Trevor Kupfer

Because we live in an area originally settled by northern Europeans, the Chippewa Vallians of yore had very little contact with minority groups. What contact we did have came thanks to baseball, believe it or not. In the first half of the 20th century, baseball was sweeping the nation but minorities were banned from the pro leagues, so they formed their own. Without the means of the majors, teams had to barnstorm the nation to make money playing games. This new exhibit from Dunn County Historical Society commemorates the era from 1905 to 1947, when African American teams and players played locally every single year. The exhibit is a mixture of panels with historical information, photos, and artifacts on various aspects of the game back then (transportation, barnstorming, equipment, etc.). But it doesn’t end there. This summer they’ve also lined up lectures and readings from Negro League authors such as Todd Peterson, Leslie Heaphy, Adrian Burgos, Steven Hoffbeck, and Paul Spyhalski. There will also be a six-part children’s series that covers historical topics relating to the exhibit, including women in baseball (the first female in the Negro Leagues even played here!). But perhaps the most intriguing event is a throwback baseball game on May 19 (held across from the museum) between the Dunn County Blue Caps (original name) and Rochester Roosters. They’ll be wearing uniforms, using equipment, and playing rules from the 1860s. Visit DunnHistory.org for specific event information.

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