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Hank Greenberg: The Story of My Life by Hank…

Hank Greenberg: The Story of My Life

by Hank Greenberg

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Hank Greenberg, an active ballplayer in the 1930s and 40s, was one of the two or three great sluggers of his day and was the first great Jewish baseball star. He was also, by all accounts, a man of intelligence, compassion and erudition. Toward the end of his life (he died in 1986), Greenberg dictated his memories and observations into a tape recorder. When transcribed, these came to some 800 pages. These pages were turned over to Ira Berkow, who was asked to render them, with Greenberg's help, into an autobiography. But before Berkow could set to work, Greenberg had died of kidney cancer. Berkow, then, set to work editing and arranging Greenberg's memoir, filling in when necessary with either newspaper accounts contemporary to events and statements about those events by people who were there. The bulk of the text, however, I'd guess at least 75% of it, is Greenberg's own words.

The story, especially to baseball fans, of course, is an entirely fascinating one. Greenberg, a man of size and strength, nevertheless had to work tirelessly to achieve the excellence that made him a star and got him into the Hall of Fame. As the first Jewish baseball star, he faced constant antisemitism from players, fans and journalists alike. Yet he eventually earned great respect for his dedication and his prowess. He lost four years of his career to World War 2, and was, in fact, the first star player to enlist after Pearl Harbor. After his playing days, Greenberg went on to become a general manager and then part team owner, so he saw, and described here,. the baseball business from all sides. But it is his detailed description of his playing days, and the world of the minor and major leagues of the 1930s and 40s, make up the most interesting sections of this book. The chapters on the 1938 season, when Greenberg hit 58 home runs and had a real chance to break Babe Ruth's record of 60, is the book's true centerpiece.

All in all, a very, very fine baseball autobiography. ( )
  rocketjk | Nov 28, 2018 |
A Jewish professional athlete? No way. Was there anti-Semitism in the world of a popular sport? Of course not!

Read "Hank Greenberg The Story of My Life" written with Ira Berkow. It is a wonderfully written story of an extraordinary man. The son of Orthodox Jews who migrated to this country, he fell in love with baseball as a youngster and continuously learned how to be better and then even better. The discipline he displayed throughout his lifetime was very apparent in every phase of his life. Tall, handsome, and with the courage of his convictions, he was a player, a manager and an owner, and he displayed the same wonderful qualities in every step of his career.

That career was interrupted and affected by his military service during World War II, but he still accomplished major achievements. The home run hitter was remembered by some as refusing to play on Yom Kippur during a pennant drive, and throughout his career he was subjected to displays of bigotry. But his dignified demeanor allowed him to perform superbly as he won MVP crowns, was a major league home run leader ( coming within two home runs of Babe Ruth's 60 home run record) and the leader of his ball club as the Detroit Tigers won four pennants and two World Series. In 1956 he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. But you don't have to be a baseball aficionado to enjoy the book, even though he recounts his scoring in many, many games. His approach to life, his inherent dignity, his humanity, his gracious way of helping other players, his being a caring father to his children - all these and other qualities make him a man the reader should be glad to know. I wish I had known him, but this is an adequate substitute.

I recommend this book. It is a good read.

- Betty ( )
  cavlibrary | Mar 5, 2016 |
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Once in a great while there appears a baseball player who transcends the game and earns universal admiration from his fellow players, from fans, and from the American people. Such a man was Hank Greenberg, whose dynamic life and legendary career are among baseball's most inspiring stories. The Story of My Life tells the story of this extraordinary man in his own words, describing his childhood as the son of Eastern European immigrants in New York; his spectacular baseball career as one of the greatest home-run hitters of all time and later as a manager and owner; his heroic service in World War II; and his courageous struggle with cancer. Tall, handsome, and uncommonly good-natured, Greenberg was a secular Jew who, during a time of widespread religious bigotry in America, stood up for his beliefs. Throughout a lifetime of anti-Semitic abuse he maintained his dignity, becoming in the process a hero for Jews throughout America and the first Jewish ballplayer elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.… (more)

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