Hank Greenberg in 1938: Hatred and Home Runs in the Shadow of War

Hank Greenberg in 1938: Hatred and Home Runs in the Shadow of War

by Ron Kaplan


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“Hammerin’” Hank Greenberg was coming off a stellar season where he’d hit 40 home runs and 184 RBIs, becoming only the thirteenth player to ever hit 40 or more homers (and one of only four players to have 40 or more home runs and 175 or more RBIs in a season). Even with his success at the plate, neither Greenberg nor the rest of the world could have expected what was about to happen in 1938.

From his first day in the big leagues, the New York-born Greenberg had dealt with persecution for being Jewish. From teammate Jo-Jo White asking where his horns were to the verbal abuse from bigoted fans and the media, the 6-foot-3 slugger always did his best to shut the noise out and concentrate on baseball. But in 1938, that would be more difficult then he could have ever imagined.

While Greenberg was battling at the plate, his people overseas were dealing with a completely different battle. Adolf Hitler, who had been chancellor of Germany since 1933, had taken direct control of the country’s military in February of ’38. He then began his methodic takeover of all neighboring countries, spreading Nazism and the early stages of World War II and the Holocaust.

Hank Greenberg in 1938 chronicles the events of 1938, both on the baseball diamond and the streets of Europe. As Greenberg’s bat had him on course for Babe Ruth’s home run record, Hitler’s “Final Solution” was beginning to take shape. Jews across the US, worried about the issues overseas, looked to Greenberg as a symbol of hope. Though normally hesitant to speak about the anti-Semitism he dealt with, the slugger still knew the role he was playing for so many of his people, saying “I came to feel that if I, as a Jew, hit a home run, I was hitting one against Hitler.”

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781613219911
Publisher: Sports Publishing LLC
Publication date: 04/25/2017
Pages: 268
Sales rank: 590,444
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Ron Kaplan is an award-winning journalist and blogger. He writes about baseball literature and pop culture at Ron Kaplan’s Baseball Bookshelf, and is the author of three books including 501 Baseball Books Fans Must Read Before They Die. His work has appeared in such outlets as Baseball America, Irish America, Mental Floss, American Book Review, and the Mystery Review, among other national and international publications.

Table of Contents

Preface xi

Introduction xvii

Spring Training 1

April 15

May 27

June 53

July 83

August 107

September-October 123

Beyond '38 161

The Final (Class) Act 179

Appendix 187

Greenberg's 1938 Game Log 188

Greenberg's Walks, September 1938 208

Greenberg's Home Runs and Splits, 1938 211

Hank Greenberg, 1938 vs. Babe Ruth, 1927: A Homer-by-Homer Comparison 216

Sources 223

Acknowledgments 228

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