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 ...
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.
For many, baseball's charm thrives on the oral tradition of grandfathers, with grandsons on their laps, passing down, in proper reverential tones, the legacy of players and memories. The late Greenberg captures that spirit here, blending the right combination of humility and fact to recount a career in which this first Jewish baseball star was considered not only the greatest and most powerful right-handed hitter in the major leagues but a successful baseball general manager and investment broker as well. He seems comfortable with the life he led, not disturbed by the reactions his being a Jew brought out in his contemporaries on the field and in the stands and explaining how he turned anti-Semitic incidents into positive motivational responses on his part rather than striking back in other ways. Because he died before the book was finished, Berkow, sportswriter for the New York Times , has filled gaps with interviews with Greenberg's family and contemporaries. Their memories lack the balance the baseball star's own text possesses and the prose becomes syrupy and muddling. Luckily these added reminiscences occupy little space. (May)
Baseball Hall of Famer Greenberg died before he could finish this autobiography. Luckily, journalist Berkow agreed to complete it, skillfully filling in gaps in the story through the use of interviews and contemporary newspaper accounts. Born and raised in the shadows of Yankee Stadium, Greenberg was a star slugger for the Detroit Tigers from 1933 to 1947 and was the first player to challenge Babe Ruth's single-season record of 60 home runs, hitting 58 in 1938. The fact that he was one of the first Jewish major leaguers affected his entire career as he answered anti-Semitic critics with the crack of his bat. A fine tribute to a fine human being as well as a star ballplayer.-- Jo DeLapo, Queens Lib., N.Y.
Midwest Book Review
- James A. Cox
The Story of My Life is an amazing portrait of a good and honorable man, both on and off the playing field. . . . An absolute 'must' for Greenberg's fans, and an excellent addition to sports biography shelves everywhere.
Hank Greenberg (1911-1986) led the Detroit Tigers to four pennants and two World Series titles, and in 1938 came within two home runs of Babe Ruth's 60-home-run record. Ira Berkow, who provided textual background for Greenberg's autobiography, is a former Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times sports columnist and author of many books, including Red: A Biography of Red Smith and Full Swing: Hits, Runs and Errors in a Writer's Life.