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    Hank Greenberg

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    January 1, 1911 – September 4, 1986

    "You're just like everyone else," a teammate once said, surprised that Greenberg didn't have horns or any other physical marks of Judaism.

    Except he wasn't like everyone else. Hammerin' Hank was a mammoth home run hitter, an absolute lock Hall of Famer whose career numbers put him in a class with better known superstars like Ruth, DiMaggio and McGwire.

    He was also a very good Jew. Raised Orthodox, Greenberg discussed it with his rabbi before he agreed to play on the High Holy Days (he was in a pennant race and the Tigers needed him).

    So why isn't he more well known? From a baseball standpoint, his best years were obscured by Ruth, Gehrig and, to a lesser extent Jimmy Foxx. Then he lost three years to the second World War. He came back to baseball still quite good, but was overshadowed by a whole new generation including DiMaggio and Ted Williams.

    As a Jew, our generation knows Koufax — Greenberg was already retired when our parents were looking for a role model.

    But semi-obscurity doesn't make him any less a baseball great. Just semi-obscure. And certainly nothing like anyone else.

    Verdict: Jew.

    September 4, 2006

    See Also

    Lou Boudreau

    Ryan Braun

    Lou Gehrig

    Sandy Koufax

    Al Rosen
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