Historic Holman; banners would celebrate notable players

NASHUA – The Silver Knights baseball team and representatives from the city are working on a plan to add two banners outside Holman Stadium championing two notable former baseball players – Don Newcombe and Roy Campanella.

Newcombe and Campanella are credited with having had a pivotal role in bringing about integrated baseball as members of the Nashua Dodgers in 1946.

The team’s assistant general manager, Cheryl Lindner, said she was inspired to start the project last fall.

"When I was driving down West Hollis Street, I saw a picture on the tire business by City Hall," Lindner said.

She said she thought some sort of image recognizing the pair at Holman would be a good idea.

The two were first slated to play in Danville, Ill.,in the Three-I league. Managers there said they would shut the league down if the African-American players showed up. Newcombe and Campanella were embraced in Nashua, went on to win the first season’s championship and made sports history.

Since a mural can’t be painted at Holman because of the ballpark’s historic nature, the idea was floated of creating banners to celebrate the players.

Roads leading to the ballpark are named Campanella Way and Don Newcombe Way.

The plan is to have one banner of Newcombe hanging near the elevator and a companion banner displaying Campanella by a stairwell on the other side.

But first, the team and the ballpark need art for the banners.

Lindner said City Arts Nashua representative Judy Carlson would be soliciting suggestions through a call to artists in the near future and the public would be notified when that process would begin.

Nick Caggiano, director of the Nashua Park & Recreation Department, said the group would need to show the city a concept of what the art would look like. The final piece would need approval of the city, perhaps by the Board of Public Works.

Since murals are out of the picture, "a banner makes all the sense in the world," Caggiano said.

Holman Stadium was funded by a donation by Charles F. Holman in memory of his late parents. He left about $50,000 upon his death in 1934 "to build and equip an athletic field with permanent stands for seating … and a suitable entrance gateway," according to published reports.

The ballpark was finished in 1937 as a Works Progress Administration project. It has since been renovated to add suites and other modern upgrades.

Lindner said the plan for the artwork is to "keep it as local as possible."

"We would love to have it for this season if all the pieces would fall into place," Lindner said. "It will depend on funding and the approval process. It just takes time.

"We would be looking for individuals in the community interested in the arts to come forward."

The total cost of the project depends on what the artist would require for compensation, but Lindner said the production cost for both banners comes in around $1,500.

The banners would be about 8 feet wide by 12 feet tall.

"We picked a surface that would do well," she said. "We’ll wait and see what the artist will charge."

Don Himsel can be reached at 594-1249, dhimsel@nashuatelegraph.com or @Telegraph_DonH.