TRUIST FIELD - ROMARE BEARDEN, A RENAISSANCE MAN
Truist Field is a baseball stadium located in Uptown Charlotte. Built in 2012, the complex is the home of the minor league team, the Charlotte Knights. Truist Stadium is Charlotte’s third sports complex for professional sports, accompanying Bank of America Stadium for football and the Spectrum Center for basketball. Unknown to many, the artist Romare Bearden was a highly-skilled baseball star and even had a chance to play in the major leagues.
Backstory and Context
Romare Bearden was truly a Renaissance man. A brilliant artist, his alma mater, Boston University featured him in their alumni magazine, “Colossal Remnants - America’s Greatest Collagist” was also a star athlete and pitched for the varsity baseball team. The BU article recounts how Hall of Famer Mickey Cochrane brought players from the majors, the Philadelphia Athletics, for an exhibition game against the BU varsity baseball team. Bearden pitched a one hit game. Afterward, Mack offered Bearden a pro contract which included a major league signing bonus. However, to accept the offer, Bearden who was a light skinned black man would have had to pass himself off as white. At the time, the leagues were strictly segregated. Deeply offended, Bearden had no interest in presenting himself as white and declined the offer.
Of note, had Bearden accepted the offer, he would have been the first player to integrate major league baseball, superseding Jackie Robinson by 15 years.
Instead of being known as an athlete, Bearden is internationally acclaimed for his art. Bearden is primarily known as a collagist. He was a himself a pioneer African American artist and was a champion for other African American artists at a time when artists of color where largely unrecognized.
Bearden was a first African American artist to have a solo at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. He is widely recognized a primary painter of the the Twentieth century.
Romare Bearden Park. (n.d.). Retrieved December 16, 2020, from https://www.mecknc.gov/ParkandRec/Parks/ParksByRegion/CentralRegion/Pages/Romare-Bearden-Park.aspx
Romare Bearden. (n.d.). Retrieved December 16, 2020, from https://www.cmstory.org/exhibits/mecklenburg-people/romare-bearden
(n.d.). Home. Retrieved December 16, 2020, from https://beardenfoundation.org/
Diamond, P. L., & Pinder, K. N. (2020). The incredible joy of collecting African American art: My journey from Frog Town, South Carolina to the National Gallery. Charlotte, NC: AK Classics Publishing.