cover image Hammerin' Hank: The Life of Hank Greenberg

Hammerin' Hank: The Life of Hank Greenberg

Yona Zeldis McDonough, , illus. by Malcah Zeldis. . Walker, $16.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8027-8997-6

This mother-daughter team (The Life of Ben Franklin , reviewed May 1) casts a bright spotlight on the pro baseball player born in New York in 1911 to parents who were Orthodox Jews. The anecdotal narrative underscores the effort that Greenberg put into his athletic endeavors as a tall, clumsy teen, even against his parents' wishes. Although he won a basketball scholarship to New York University, Greenberg was determined to follow his dream of playing baseball and signed on with the Detroit Tigers. He encountered anti-Semitism from spectators as well as fellow players, but Greenberg became a hero to American Jews. His impressive list of accomplishments includes a number of firsts. In 1935, he was voted Most Valuable Player in either the National or American Leagues—the first Jewish player to receive that honor—during a season in which the Tigers won the World Series for the first time in the team's 42-year history; he was the first major league player to enlist in WW II; he was the first Jewish ball player inducted into baseball's Hall of Fame; and the first Jewish co-owner of a major league team. Zeldis's trademark boldly hued, primitivist style gouache paintings seem well suited for her pioneer subject. Quotes from Greenberg convey his ingenuous and sympathetic personality (especially evident in his words of encouragement to Jackie Robinson). Ages 6-10. (May)