The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg
Kids who grew up in The Bronx in the 1930s and early 1940s thought of nothing else but baseball and Hank Greenberg: the baseball Moses. Most of them dreamed of growing up and becoming just like him and many expected that he would become the first Jewish president of the United States. After all, he was good looking, tall, well spoken, accomplished, and he’d already proven that he could do anything he set his mind to.
Brought up in a completely orthodox home, Hank’s parents were Rumanian immigrants. He was born on January 1, 1911 and his mother convinced him that New Year’s celebrations were really all about his birthday.
As a young boy, Hank remembers that he started playing baseball because everybody else was doing it. He wanted to be American, and so he played. When the family moved to the Bronx, his game improved significantly. Hank would take his lunch down to the ballpark that was only a block away, and spend the whole day there.
Hank was painfully shy and hid when company came to their home. He describes himself as an ‘ugly duckling’ who was stooped, too tall, too skinny, and with a bad case of acne. He used to spend his energy and time at the ball field where he got to escape jives and negative comments.
At the beginning of his career his neighbors thought he was a bum. His mother expected him to become a lawyer or doctor, so she wasn’t too proud of having a baseball player in her home. Ultimately, Greenberg enrolled in NYU, but his stay there was short lived because his desire to play baseball was too strong to ignore.
During the 1930s people were out of jobs and some had lost everything. The plants were closing and the few who had jobs were getting laid off. Yet the ballpark offered a sense of pride and fans continued to flock there to enjoy the games.
This award-winning documentary tells the story of Baseball Hall-of-Famer Hank Greenberg. The story is told through the use of archival footage and poignant interviews with his teammates, friends, family, and fans.
He was a first baseman with the Detroit Tigers and became one of the first power hitters of his generation. This caused him to be appropriately nicknamed “Hammerin’ Hank.” His power at bat gave the Tigers major league dominance in the 1930s.
Greenberg faced a lot of racism, as Detroit became the hotbed of anti-semitism. In fact, there were a number of Jewish players before him who had changed their names to avoid being pointed out. Yet Hank emerged proud and tall and as a big source of inspiration throughout the Jewish community. Watch his story now.