Black Ball

The National Pastime in Black and White

Baseball, St. Louis' beloved sport, is often heralded as the "National Pastime." While the universal popularity of the game has been in question for some time (despite purists' protests, the game seems to have fallen behind football -- although it pains us deeply to admit it), there was an era when it was unquestionably the American game.

But even in the golden age of baseball, not every American citizen was invited to play, or even watch the sport in person. Prior to 1947 and Jackie Robinson, our great game was segregated. Which is not to say that African Americans didn't play baseball until Robinson's break-out spring -- no, they played the game with the same passion, but in separate leagues. And as the Supreme Court once noted, separate was not equal -- the Negro Leagues had a distinct edge in pitching, as Satchel Paige was the greatest pitcher to ever take the mound in any league, and they also fielded some of the deadliest hitters to ever swing lumber.

The National Pastime in Black and White: The Negro Baseball Leagues, 1867-1955, the new exhibit at the Sheldon Art Galleries (3648 Washington Boulevard; 314-533-9900), explores the history of the Negro Leagues through a series of historic photographs and selected artifacts. The show also examines the impact the "other" game had on American history, through the black newspapers that followed the teams and the social inroads made by the barnstorming teams that traveled to rural, white America to play. The exhibition opens with a free public reception from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, September 1, and remains up through October 22. -- Paul Friswold

Heartful Art

Since the summer of 2002, inside a charming stone cottage in Tower Grove Park, St. Louis children have had the opportunity to paint, to draw, to sculpt, to perform and to connect -- with one another and with the community. Creativity and community awareness are the heart and soul of the South City Open Studio and Gallery (SCOSAG) and the Potter's Workshop, and The Artists of SCOSAG: Faculty and Students exhibit at the 3rd Floor Gallery (1214 Washington Avenue; 314-241-1010) brings new art and fresh perspectives to the St. Louis scene. See the students' creations (like Justice Binder's, pictured) and the teachers' work at the free opening reception Friday, September 2 (6 to 10 p.m.); the exhibit remains up through October 13. -- Brooke Foster

Bling Fling

SUN9/4

Amid a casino's cha-chings lies the perfect place to enjoy a cocktail, free appetizers and a loungewear fashion show bursting with bling. The VooDoo Café & Lounge in Harrah's Casino (777 Casino Center Drive, Maryland Heights; call 314-367-8954 to RSVP) hosts "Beauty and the Bling" from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Starting at 10:15 p.m., check out collections from Bling by Carrie, Jule and Madi while DJ Agile One provides the soundtrack for the models' sexy sashays. But watch it, dudes: If your girlfriends are in tow, they'll notice your each and every ogle. Chicks are too smart to believe the "but I was just looking at her carats...you know, for you" line. -- Kristie McClanahan

Corn Coward

Is Ms. Day the only person who's permanently scarred by Children of the Corn? Is she the lone soul who waits to visit the Great Godfrey Maze (in Robert E. Glazebrook Park, 1401 Stamper Lane, Godfrey, Illinois; 618-466-1483 or www.greatgodfreymaze.com) until after the corn has died and has no chance of hiding adult-murderers (or ghostly dead ballplayers, for that matter)? For those with no fear, this event is for you: The Godfrey maze -- in all its tall-corn glory -- hosts a free kickoff party beginning at 6:30 p.m. Friday, September 2. If you dare, you can hang out for the kids' activities and a screening of The Wizard of Oz (this year's maze theme). The maze itself is open from Saturday, September 3, through October 31 (Ms. Day likes daytime visits closer to this end date); regular admission costs $4 to $6. -- Alison Sieloff

 
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