Hank Greenberg: The Hero of Heroes

Hank Greenberg: The Hero of Heroes

by John Rosengren


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Baseball during the Great Depression of the 1930s galvanized communities and provided a struggling country with heroes. Jewish player Hank Greenberg gave the people of Detroit—and America—a reason to be proud.

But America was facing more than economic hardship. Hitler’s agenda heightened the persecution of Jews abroad while anti-Semitism intensified political and social tensions in the U.S. The six-foot-four-inch Greenberg, the nation’s most prominent Jew, became not only an iconic ball player, but also an important and sometimes controversial symbol of Jewish identity and the American immigrant experience.

Throughout his twelve-year baseball career and four years of military service, he heard cheers wherever he went along with anti-Semitic taunts. The abuse drove him to legendary feats that put him in the company of the greatest sluggers of the day, including Babe Ruth, Jimmie Foxx, and Lou Gehrig. Hank’s iconic status made his personal dilemmas with religion versus team and ambition versus duty national debates.
Hank Greenberg is an intimate account of his life—a story of integrity and triumph over adversity and a portrait of one of the greatest baseball players and most important Jews of the twentieth century.


Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780451416025
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 03/04/2014
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 598,787
Product dimensions: 8.90(w) x 5.90(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

John Rosengren is the author of six previous books, including Hammerin’ Hank, George Almighty, and the Say Hey Kid: The Year that Changed Baseball Forever, which was a finalist for the 2008 CASEY Award. A freelance journalist, Rosengren’s articles have appeared in more than 100 publications, including Cycle Sport, The History Channel Magazine, Maximum Golf, MLB Insiders Club Magazine, Penthouse, Reader’s Digest, Runner’s World, Sports Illustrated, Tennis and U.S. Catholic. An adjunct faculty member in the University of Minnesota’s journalism school, Rosengren lives with his wife and their two children in Minneapolis.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Leshono Toivo 1

Chapter 2 Bruggy: The Pride of Crotona 13

Chapter 3 A Ballplayer Named Greenberg?! 35

Chapter 4 The Elusive Hebrew Star 57

Chapter 5 Bang, Bang, Bang, Go the Yiddish 73

Chapter 6 MVP 104

Chapter 7 183* 129

Chapter 8 The Golden Mark 151

Chapter 9 Shadow Boxing with Fly Balls 178

Chapter 10 You're in the Army Now 210

Chapter 11 War's My Business Now 235

Chapter 12 Playing from Memory 251

Chapter 13 Good-bye, Mr. Ball 282

Chapter 14 Playing Hardball 314

Chapter 15 Tennis, Anyone? 341

Epilogue 358

Bibliography 361

Acknowledgments 379

Index 381

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"Rosengren pens a textured tale—of Henry Greenberg, the Moses of Baseball; Hankus Spankus, the home run king and Hall of Famer; and Hank himself, steadfast son, teammate and father. This is a book for those who don't know this Hero of Heroes and, much more, for those who think they do."—Larry Tye, New York Times bestselling author of Satchel: The Life and Times of an American Legend

“Greenberg became an icon for American Jews and filled that role with dignity… Rosengren’s well-written book is recommended to all fans."—Library Journal


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Hank Greenberg: The Hero of Heroes 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
MinTwinsNY More than 1 year ago
Review: Before Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball, another player had to endure taunts from ignorant players and fans as well as wonder what would become of his people as he played the game during a tense time in world history. Hank Greenberg was a New York kid who became a star first baseman for the Detroit Tigers. Born of Jewish descent, Greenberg’s best years on the field coincided with the rise of Hitler in Europe and his plan to wipe out the Jews. Author John Rosengren writes a wonderful biography with the emphasis on this time in Greenberg’s life that is filled with much success as well as trouble. The book covers events in the world at the time as skillfully as it does Greenberg’s baseball career which included many records, including becoming the first player in baseball history to win the Most Valuable Player award twice in different positions. Greenberg also lost time to military service – nearly four years – and this part of his life, as well as his comeback is well documented. The book wraps up with Greenberg’s career in the front office of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cleveland Indians, his subsequent divorce and remarriage and his later years when the Tigers gave him a long overdue day of honor. While these topics are well researched and documented, the book is also a very good source of information on some of the hot-button topics in baseball of that era. Race relations in baseball were mentioned, including Greenberg’s interactions with Robinson as they both felt the heat of being a “minority” in a game with mostly white Christian males as players. Salaries and negotiations with players are frequently covered as the yearly negotiations Greenberg had with the Tigers always seemed to show his petulant side, yet there was always an agreement reached. It was especially ironic when Greenberg was later a general manager and would employ the same negotiating tactics with his players that infuriated him during his playing days. This book is a thorough and enjoyable read on the life of one of baseball’s greatest players. Fans of all generations of baseball should read this book to gain insight into not only one of the best players but also into the events and mindset of that time. Excellent book. Did I skim? No Did I learn something new? Yes. Many things, but what struck me the most was how much of a hero Greenberg was considered for Jewish people all across the country. I was also fascinated with his seemingly petulant behavior every year when he negotiated his contract. Considering this was during the time of the reserve clause and no agents, it was understandable, as it was usually the only leverage a player had during negotiations. But it was still surprising to me as it seemed to be the complete opposite of the persona that was portrayed. Pace of the book: Excellent – the narrative never was bogged down with unimportant information or overloaded the reader. Positives: Negatives Do I recommend? Yes. For any baseball fan or historian, this is a complete and entertaining account of Greenberg’s life and baseball career. Book Format Read: Hardcover
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
DonJ More than 1 year ago
One can only consume "so much" re. repetitive descriptions of baseball games. It became obvious (to me) that the mission of the story was noit baseball, nor Hank Greenberg, but religious discrimination. Never finished. Returned to the library unfinished.