“¡Pleibol! In the Barrios and the Big Leagues/En los barrios y las grandes ligas” will open April 1, 2021, at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History to coincide with the day that Major League Baseball hopes to have every team play its first game on the same day for the first time since 1968.
The bilingual exhibition will capture the excitement of the game and will focus on the rich history and culture of Latinos and their impact on American culture and society through the lens of baseball. The Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) will travel “¡Pleibol!” to 15 cities through 2025, beginning in January 2021.
While the museum had to postpone the exhibition’s original October 2020 opening due to the pandemic, the exhibit’s companion bilingual book, ¡Pleibol! In the Barrios and the Big Leagues / En los barrios y las grandes ligas was released by Smithsonian Scholarly Press in time for Hispanic Heritage Month. The 148-page book, which retails for $28.95, is filled with full-color photographs reflecting U.S. Latino baseball. Co-authored by National Museum of American History Curator Margaret N. Salazar-Porzio and baseball historian Adrian Burgos Jr., professor of history at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, with Robin Morey, curatorial assistant, National Museum of American History, the book pairs artifacts from the museum’s collections with voices from the community of players, scholars and enthusiasts who have contributed to sharing this quintessential American story. The book’s stories outline the social and cultural force baseball has played within Latino communities. Among the themes explored are how one becomes part of a community; how baseball can bring people together regardless of race, class and gender; and how fans are as much of a part of the culture as the baseball players themselves.
To delve deeper into the stories featured in the book and exhibition, the museum will co-host the virtual panel “Pleibol now! Contemporary Stories of Latina/o/x Baseball” Oct. 14 from 3 to 4:30 p.m. ET with the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and in partnership with Major League Baseball’s SOMOS BRG and Minor League Baseball’s Copa de la Diversión. It will explore the contemporary issues, journeys and passions of Latinos in baseball.Participants include the authors, Salazar-Porzio, Burgos and Morey, as well as sports scholar José Alamillo of California State University, Channel Islands; Anthony Pardo of Major League Baseball’s SOMOS Business Resource Group; and Chanel Zapata of Minor League Baseball’s Copa de la Diversión. The panel is free, but registration is required at http://s.si.edu/pleibol-now.
“‘¡Pleibol!’ presents a major league story, but it is rooted in the reality of who was allowed to play ball and where,” Salazar-Porzio said. “The story we tell shows how the Latino community played, celebrated and changed the game.”
“¡Pleibol! In the Barrios and the Big Leagues/En los barrios y las grandes ligas,” has been made possible through close collaborations with more than 30 partners in 14 states, Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico to help bring visibility to Latino community histories through baseball. In a series of collecting and preservation events over four years (2015–2018), communities shared stories, pictures and artifacts with the museum’s curatorial team.
The exhibition is organized by the National Museum of American History in collaboration with the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service. It received support from the Cordoba Corp. and the Latino Initiatives Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Latino Center.
Through incomparable collections, rigorous research and dynamic public outreach, the National Museum of American History seeks to empower people to create a more just and compassionate future by examining, preserving and sharing the complexity of our past. The museum, located on Constitution Avenue N.W., between 12th and 14th streets, recently reopened. The new public hours are Friday through Tuesday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free but reserved, time-entry passes are required. To make reservations, visit si.edu/visit. For Smithsonian information, the public may call (202) 633-1000.
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