Giving baseball immortal Hank Greenberg his due

  • March 2, 2010
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The Jewish Babe Ruth, "Hammerin' Hank"

Baseball star Hank Greenberg is a small but significant character in my new book, “Is It Night or Day?”

The book, based upon my mother’s experiences, captures Edith’s immigration in 1938 and her assimilation into American culture. Frightened, isolated, and ridiculed in her new environment, Edith finds solace in baseball.

At that time, Comiskey Park offered free admission for women on Thursdays (Ladies’ Day), and Edith was introduced to America through the games. Hank Greenberg, the Jewish slugger for the Tigers, emerges as both a role model and surrogate father for Edith.

Greenberg, one of the premier power hitters of his time, blasted 58 home runs in 1938. The American League twice named Greenberg the Most Valuable Player and he was a five-time All Star player.

Harvard law school professor Alan Dershowitz says that Greenberg was “the most important Jew of that period, giving hope to all the others through his accomplishments, allowing them to think that they could fit into the mainstream. He was articulate, a great player, a great role model, had a great work ethic, and though not a religious Jew he realized how important his heritage was and how others looked up to him to do what is right.”

Though he was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1956, Greenberg still lacks the recognition he deserves, and my hope is that this novel will help address his relative obscurity. In Is It Night or Day?, Hank Greenberg and baseball give Edith, who has suffered terrible losses, a glimpse of hope for the future

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