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July 13, 1984 - Image 8

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1984-07-13

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

8

Friday, July 13, 1984

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

WINDOW TINTING

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Greenberg lured to the diamond
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BY IRWIN COHEN

Special to The Jewish News

Hank Greenberg is still
a well-known name in the
Jewish community.
The baseball community
hasn't forgotten him
either. Greenberg, now 73,
was in uniform for his role
as the American League's
honorary captain at the
All-Star Game in San
Francisco Tuesday night.
Greenberg, who saw ac-
tion in All-Star Games as a
player, also saw action in
World War II. He rose to
the rank of captain and
served in China, India and
took part in numerous
bombing missions in Japan
while having four years
chopped off his big league
career.
"I can't say what might
have been," reflected the
man who totaled 331 home
runs and a career average
of .313. "I was just thankful
to get out of the war in good
health."
Greenberg knew he
wanted to be a big league
player while growing up in
the Bronx not too many
home runs away from
Yankee Stadium and the
Polo Grounds where the
National League New
York Giants played. The
legendary John McGraw,
who managed the Giants
for three decades, took a
look at the big high-
schooler named Greenberg
one spring day before
Passover while keeping in
mind what a tremendous
gate attraction a Jewish
player in a heavily popu-
lated Jewish area would
be. However, he passed
over the big kid thinking
he would be too clumsy to
ever play major league
baseball.
The Yankees, though,
thought enough of Green-
berg's talents to offer him a
signing bonus and a trip to
their minor league club.
But Greenberg's parents
had other ideas.
"They wanted me to be-
come a doctor, dentist or
lawyer," chuckled Green-
berg. "I decided to be a
ballplayer which auto-
matically charaterized me
as a bum. The neighbors
used to say my parents had
three nice children and one
bum. But little did- they
realize that 40 years later
the athletes are the mil-
lionaires and the doctors
and the dentists and the
lawyers are the working
stiffs. I was just a little
ahead of my time."
Besides the Yankees, the
former Washington Sena-
tors and the Tigers were

.

Irwin Cohen is director of
group sales for the Detroit
Tigers.

Av.4444ve 4°‘
.4

I

Hall of Fame first baseman Hank Greenberg is pictured in
his prime as a Detroit Tiger.

willing to spend money to handed batter and set the
get Greenberg to sign a record for most two-or-
contract. The Tigers, more home run games (11)
though, spent the most in a season. In the prime of
time convincing his par- his career at age 30, it was
ents that Greenberg off to the army in May
should sign with their 1941.
organization and that he
Greenberg returned to
would be allowed to go to Tiger turf on July 1, 1945,
college before entering and 47,729 fans welcomed
their minor league system. him at Briggs (Tiger)
So he succumbed to the Stadium. lie responded by
wishes of his parents an
a home run in his
enrolled at New York Uni- hitting
first game in over four
versity while signed to the years and his bat helped
Tigers.
the club win the pennant.
But in the spring of 1930, He hit two home runs in
the lure Of the diamond the
World Series to help
was greater than the dip- the Tigeri defeat the Cubs
loma and Greenberg left in seven games — one year
NYU to begin his baseball
schooling. The Tigers as- after listening to the Series
radio while wearing a
signed him to Hartford, on
different uniform
Piedmont, Evansville and stationed in India.
Beaumont before instal-
The year 1946 was to be
ling him as their regular
his last in a Detroit uni-
first baseman in 1933.
form. Despite his 44 home
It was to be the first of
eight consecutive seasons runs and respectable .277
in which he batted over batting average; the Tigers
.300. He was named the felt his skills were eroding
American League's Most at 'the age of 35 and sold
to Pittsburgh in early
Valuable Player in 1935 him
1947.
and 1940. In 1938, he tied
"Finding out I was sold
the still-standing major
league record for most to Pittsburgh was the
home runs (58) by a right- biggest disappointment I

Continued on Page 10
.


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