Plans Continue for Rocky Colavito Statue in Little Italy
Vince Guerrieri | On 03, Jul 2020
Let’s talk about statues in Little Italy.
No, not that one.
There’s a movement afoot to replace the statue of Christopher Columbus at Tony Brush Park with Hector Boiardi, the famed chef who went on to create a line of canned Italian foods. It’s part of a larger grappling with Columbus’ legacy as a genocidal imperialist.
And I do mean grappling. As someone of Italian descent, I understand that Columbus is not well-regarded, nor should he be. But I also understand that the places and holiday named for him come from a yearning for Italian pride in an era when Italians were regularly discriminated against and held in low regard by other people who felt they had more of a claim to being white.
But already being planned for Tony Brush Park is a statue of another Italian-American whose record is more positive: Rocky Colavito. I knew to fans of a certain age, he was the best and most popular of Indians players, but I hadn’t really seen it firsthand until his appearance last year as part of all-star festivities.
Despite that popularity, Colavito will likely never get a statue at Progressive Field, for the simple reason that he’s not a hall of famer, and it’s unlikely that will change. So his fans had to look elsewhere, and where better to have a statue of him than Cleveland’s Little Italy?
The statue is being done by artist David Deming, whose handiwork can be seen all throughout Cleveland. He’s also done the Jim Brown statue at FirstEnergy Stadium as well as Frank Robinson at Progressive Field. (Deming is one of those fans of a certain age who idolized Colavito.)
Money is being raised to pay for the statue, which was supposed to be unveiled in the spring. Coronavirus has made the timetable far more fluid – but hopefully the statue itself is fraught with far less controversy.
Photo: Cleveland Memory Project