Last homestand, the Orioles unveiled the latest mural installation at Oriole Park at Camden Yards as part of the Birdland Murals series, powered by PNC Bank. The mural, created by local artist ERNEST SHAW in collaboration with Open Walls Baltimore Curator GAIA, pays tribute to Baltimore’s rich and storied Negro Leagues history.
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Located in the Orioles Legends Park beyond the bullpens in center field, the mural features Hall of Famers ROY CAMPANELLA, BIZ MACKEY, and JUD WILSON, along with Maryland native ERNEST BURKE. Campanella, regarded as one of the premier catchers in baseball history, played for the Baltimore Elite Giants from 1937-45 before signing with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1946 after Jackie Robinson had broken the color barrier in organized baseball. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1969. Mackey, who was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2006, spent two years with the Baltimore Black Sox and four with the Elite Giants as a player-manager and is credited with having tutored players who went on to have tremendous success in the Major Leagues, including Campanella, Monte Irvin, and Larry Doby. Wilson, a hard-hitting third baseman, slugged his way to the Hall of Fame over a 21-year career, including nine seasons with the Black Sox. Considered one of the most feared hitters in the Negro Leagues, he was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2006. Burke, who was born in Havre de Grace, was a pitcher and outfielder for the Elite Giants from 1946-49.
The mural also features a Sankofa bird in a baseball glove. According to Shaw, the Sankofa is an Adinkra symbol, originally created by the Akan of West Africa. The Sankofa is a bird with its head turned backward taking an egg from its back. It illustrates the importance of remembering and honoring the past and using that information for positive progress moving forward, a concept deeply ingrained in honoring the history of the Negro Leagues.
A native of West Baltimore and a product of Baltimore City Public Schools, Baltimore School for the Arts, Morgan State University, and Howard University, Shaw credits his hometown with having taught him the meaning of perseverance, community, and integrity. His primary subjects reflect the multiple aspects of the Black/Africanist experience in the context of a society that confines Blackness to being the antithesis to whiteness and a response to racialized subjugation. Fans interested in seeing more of Shaw’s work can follow him on Instagram at eshaw_art.
The mural is the second installation to be completed at Oriole Park this season, joining graffiti writer ADAM STAB’s installation located under the video board between the center field bleachers and Eutaw Street. The Birdland Murals series began in 2019 and featured local female artists, including Baltimore native MEGAN LEWIS and RED SWAN WALLS, a women-owned, Baltimore-based mural studio run by HANNA MORAN and LINDY SWAN, as part of the Orioles’ yearlong celebration of women’s equality and girls’ empowerment in honor of the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment in August 2020.
A mural paying tribute to Hall of Fame pitcher Leon Day, who spent the 1934 season as a member of the Baltimore Black Sox and 1949-50 with the Elite Giants, is being planned for the future. Raised in Baltimore, Day served his country as a member of the 818th Amphibious Battalion of the United States Army in World War II. Day, who was known for his soft-spoken demeanor and dominance on the mound, was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1995.
Fans are encouraged to share photos of themselves with the murals using the hashtag #BirdlandMurals. For more information about Birdland Murals powered by PNC Bank, please visit Orioles.com/Murals.