La Casita Cultural Center, a program of Syracuse University’s College of Arts and Sciences (A&S), is observing Hispanic Heritage Month (HHM) with a special exhibition titled “Béisbol at the Heart of Our Latino Communities.”
“Béisbol” is the theme of the “Balcón Criollo,” an annual fall program at La Casita, marking the rich history and culture of Hispanic communities throughout Central New York.
Running from Tuesday, Sept. 15, to Friday, Dec. 11, “Béisbol” celebrates and documents the significant role of baseball in Latino-American culture. The installation includes a variety of baseball memorabilia, including photos and videos of local players, coaches, and fans--from youth programs, to college and amateur leagues, to semi-professional and professional teams.
The opening of the exhibition coincides with Ononodaga County’s HHM proclamation ceremony on Sept. 15 at 6 p.m. at La Casita (109 Otisco St., Syracuse). The ceremony and exhibition are free and open to the public. For more information, contact La Casita at 315-443-2151 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Every year, HHM is recognized nationwide from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15.
“We’re extremely excited about this project,” says Tere Paniagua ’82, executive director of A&S’ Office of Cultural Engagement for the Hispanic Community. “At no other time have there been more Latinos on the baseball field, in the clubhouse, and in the stands.”
Paniagua, who also oversees La Casita, says the center is accepting all kinds of baseball memorabilia, including print and digital materials, keepsakes, uniforms, and trophies, throughout the fall. Each item will be carefully photographed and documented for inclusion in La Casita’s Cultural Heritage Archive, and then returned to the owner upon completion of the exhibition.
“Béisbol” is also being documented and curated by members of La Casita’s community outreach team, led by Luz Encarnación ’16 and Herve Yves Comeau G’16, in conjunction with local photographer and videographer Marilú López Fretts ’11.
The exhibition is part of a new, multiyear initiative between La Casita and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. To be announced in October, the partnership consists of Latino-related exhibits, collections, programming, education and research projects. The public is invited to donate Latino baseball items to the Smithsonian’s national repository, where they will be preserved and enjoyed by future generations.
Paniagua says “Béisbol” has an oral-history component, too. Plans are underway for La Casita to host a series of informal gatherings for people to share stories about the items they have loaned to the exhibition. The sessions will be added to La Casita's Cultural Heritage Archive.
The Sept. 15 reception is co-produced by the new Hispanic Syracuse coalition, of which La Casita is a charter member. Other HHM programming is made possible, in part, by a grant award from the Gifford Foundation. Additional support comes from the multicultural affairs offices at Syracuse and Le Moyne College.