Hank Greenberg: The Hero Who Didn't Want to Be One

Mark Kurlansky. Yale Univ., $25 (176p) ISBN 978-0-300-13660-9
Baseball legend Hank Greenberg is remembered not only for hard hitting and an imposing physical presence, but for bravery in facing down bigots who resented the Jewish athlete's ethnicity. The Bronx-born kid achieved stardom with the Detroit Tigers in the ‘30s, served in WWII, and eventually took a management position. Early notoriety came when he famously refused to play ball on Yom Kippur. Jewish parents of that era were less than anxious for their sons to pursue sports, preferring education and the more cerebral professions that followed. While some Jewish athletes changed their names, Greenberg stood proud, even though Detroit had been characterized as the most anti-Semitic city in America, helped in large part by Henry Ford's notoriously anti-Jewish newspaper, the Dearborn Independent. Though Greenberg "was sensitive to his responsibility to his people, the grandness of that role conflicted with his natural humility." He was an ardent supporter of Jackie Robinson, the first African-American major-leaguer, as well as others who suffered prejudice. Kurlansky's (The Eastern Stars: How Baseball Changed the Dominican Town of San Pedro de Macorís) slim volume puts a fascinating period of sports history into a vivid cultural context. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 05/02/2011
Release date: 03/01/2011
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 164 pages - 978-0-300-19246-9
Ebook - 184 pages - 978-0-300-17514-1
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