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Hank Greenberg Makes MLB Debut, 1930

Updated: Dec 4, 2020

On This Day in Jewish History: September 14th, 1930

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#onthisday, 1930, Hank Greenberg makes his MLB debut.

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Nicknamed "Hammerin' Hank", "Hankus Pankus" and "The Hebrew Hammer" - Hank Greenberg was not only the best Jewish-American professional baseball player, but he was one of the greatest baseball players of all time.

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After a stellar amateur career, his hometown Yankees offered him a contract, but he opted to join the @tigers.

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Greenberg would win two American League MVPs, 2 World Series titles, and 4 pennants in his career with Detroit. In 1937, he missed Lou Gehrig's record for all time RBIs by 1 (184). One year later, he came 2 home runs short of Babe Ruth's single season record (58)

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Being Jewish (and proud), Hank withstood significant antisemitism as a player during a 1930's America that was increasingly antisemitic. After Kristallnacht in 1938, Hank famously stated that every home run was a home run against Hitler. Greenberg was also one of the few who did not oppose welcoming Jackie Robinson, the first black player, into the league in 1947.

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In 1934, during a playoff run, Hank consulted with his rabbi and opted to not play on Yom Kippur and even though he wasn't observant, he went to shul.

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Greenberg was initially brought into military service in May 1941, only to be honorably discharged on Dec. 5 of that year, a mere two days before the attacks at Pearl Harbor.

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Greenberg would immediately re-enlist and serve in the Air Force - becoming the first major leaguer to do so. In June 1945, his military service concluded and Greenberg jumped right back into baseball.

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Greenberg would go on to play with the Pittsburgh Pirates and be an executive. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1956.

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Hank passed away on Sept. 4, 1986 from kidney cancer. Joe DiMaggio once said, "He was one of the truly great hitters, and when I first saw him at bat, he made my eyes pop out."

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For more on Hank Greenberg, check out episode 2 of the @two.tall.jews_show and episode 3 of @sportstechbiz with co-founder @mayogrammo

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Text Source: https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/hank-greenberg


Image Source: https://www.jmoreliving.com/2017/06/02/hank-greenberg-took-hitler-summer-1938/

✍: @_tikvah

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