HANK GREENBERG by Hank Greenberg


The Story of My Life
Email this review


Flatfooted, posthumous autobiography by the great Detroit Tigers slugger of the 1930's and 1940's, edited after his death by Ira Berkow (Red--A Biography of Red Smith, Carew, etc.). Greenberg (1911-86) is remembered mostly as a great Jewish batsman, one of only two Jews in baseball's Hall of Fame (the other is Sandy Koufax). Predictably, then, much of Greenberg's story focuses on his ethnic background--the strangeness of a Jew excelling in this goyim sport, the vile Jew-baiting he suffered from other major leaguers, his refusal to play on Yom Kippur. Greenberg presses all the expected buttons--his childhood devotion to the game; his early pro years as "a big, awkward giraffe"; memories of Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Williams, and the incredible Dizzy Dean; the MVP years of '35 and '40; his pursuit of Ruth's home-run record in '38 (Greenberg fell two short): his post-playing years as general manager of the Cleveland Indians. It was a magnificent baseball life, and Berkow does his best to keep it lively, sewing together 800 pages of Greenberg's random notes with lucid transitions and supplementary interviews with many of the major figures involved. Still, it's dull. Greenberg writes like a utility infielder (he gets the job done, and that's all), and his career has faded rapidly in public memory, now carrying none of the mythic clout of his contemporaries. Of major importance only for readers interested in the history of American Jews, or for students of Cooperstown--and not even close to being a home run.

Pub Date: May 24th, 1989
ISBN: 8129-1741-3
Publisher: Times/Henry Holt
Review Posted Online: