With the city of Camden having such a distinguished historical heritage, and with so many residents acutely and proudly aware of that heritage and the value of keeping it alive, we are delighted to see the news that statues of Bernard Baruch and Larry Doby will be commissioned and will be placed on the grounds of the Camden Archives and Museum. The work comes through the generosity of Camden resident John Rainey, who’s funding the statues, and sculptor Maria J. Kirby-Smith, who will perform the artwork. Those familiar with Kirby-Smith’s exquisite sculpture at the Kershaw County Library will no doubt delight in the newly commissioned work.
Baruch, of course, was a financier and confidante to presidents and was largely responsible for the early development of a hospital in Camden which eventually evolved into the present-day KershawHealth. Doby was the first black baseball player in the American League, following closely behind Jackie Robinson’s breaking of the color barrier in that sport. He enjoyed a long and distinguished career in the major leagues and has been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.
We like the concept of the statuary: Doby signing a baseball for Baruch, who’s sitting on a bench. Indeed, according to reference sources, he was known as something of a “park bench statesman” because he often walked or sat in Washington’s Lafayette Park and in New York’s Central Park. How fitting it will be to find him ensconced on a bench in downtown Camden with one of the historic figures in baseball nearby.
Rainey is to be commended for his generosity; his gift will inspire generations of Camdenites to come.