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Hank Greenberg: The Hero of Heroes Hardcover – March 5, 2013

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Hank Greenberg was the first nationally known Jewish athlete. When he joined the Detroit Tigers in 1933, the team was just another also-ran, chasing the powerful New York Yankees. But in 1934, led by Greenberg’s slugging, the Tigers won the pennant, though they lost the World Series. In 1935 the Tigers won the World Series. As Rosengren recounts this remarkable life story, we come to see how Greenberg bore more than the burden of athletic performance. He was a symbol of the Jewish community. Some in the community felt he should honor the Sabbath by not playing; others felt he should at least honor the High Holidays. Non-Jews vehemently argued that Greenberg should eschew all in favor of playing every time there was a game. Additionally, Greenberg was the target of virulent anti-Semitism. The discrimination wasn’t the same or as pervasive as the insults Jackie Robinson would endure 15 years later, but it was every bit as much a fabric of American life. Greenberg only had nine complete seasons as a Major Leaguer, but his place in the Hall of Fame is indisputable. He lost one season to injury and nearly four more to military service during WWII. (He served 45 months, the longest of any Major League player.) Rosengren’s text covers Greenberg’s youth, his playing and military careers as well as his years as a Major League executive. This is a serious, carefully researched biography of an important historical figure who was also a famous athlete. --Wes Lukowsky

Review

"Rosengren pens a textured tale—of Henry Greenberg, the Moses of Baseball; Hankus Spankus, the home run king and Hall of Famer; and Hank himself, steadfast son, teammate and father. This is a book for those who don't know this Hero of Heroes and, much more, for those who think they do."—Larry Tye, New York Times bestselling author of Satchel: The Life and Times of an American Legend

“Greenberg became an icon for American Jews and filled that role with dignity… Rosengren’s well-written book is recommended to all fans."—Library Journal




 
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: NAL Hardcover (March 5, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451235762
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451235763
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.3 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #633,809 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

John Rosengren is an award-winning author of eight books. A freelance writer since 1981, he has written articles for more than 100 publications ranging from Reader's Digest to Sports Illustrated. He's a member of the American Society of Journalists & Authors, Biographers International Organization, and the Society for American Baseball Research. He earned his master's degree in creative writing at Boston University, where he studied with Saul Bellow and Derek Walcott. He lives in Minneapolis with his wife and their two children.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Bill Emblom on March 16, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Author John Rosengren has blessed us with the definitive biography on Detroit Tigers' Hall of Famer Hank Greenberg. Greenberg grew up in New York City's Bronx and experienced the antisemitism that was to follow him well into his baseball career. The Yankees wanted to sign him to lure Jewish customers to Yankee Stadium, but since first base was being held down by Lou Gehrig Hank felt his chances to advance to the major leagues would be better signing with the Detroit Tigers.

Author Rosengren correctly spends a good deal of time emphasizing the bigotry experienced by Greenberg in America at the time of Hitler's rise to power in Germany and his persecution of the Jews. An example of the ignorance of people is illustrated by Jo Jo White, a teammate of Greenberg's. White slowly circled around Hank looking for something freakish. Greenberg asked him if he found anything interesting. White replied, "I'm just looking. I've never seen a Jew before. I don't understand it. You look just like anybody else."

Greenberg's career with the Tigers included two MVP awards each won at a different position, first base and left field. Greenberg moved to left field to accommodate Rudy York at first base who was best suited to DH had there been such a position at the time. Hank did not do well in the 1934 World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals and saw very limited play due to an injured wrist in the 1935 Series in which the Tigers defeated the Chicago Cubs. Hank experienced defeat for his Tigers in the 1940 Series against the Cincinnati Reds. Finally in 1945 Hank had a World Series in which he played a significant role when the Tigers defeated the Chicago Cubs.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By honest Abe on July 13, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a story of a man and his ethnicity, and the impact of both on baseball history. In some ways, although not the first Jew in baseball, Greenberg faced some of the same hatred as Jackie Robinson but to a lesser degree.
The story reveals the inner conflict that Greenberg had as an idol to the Jewish community,even if he was not a devout Jew, and his loyalty to the team. He carried an immense burden not only to succeed for himself, since he was not naturally gifted as an athlete, but also for his people.
He was a fierce competitor, demanded every ounce of sweat from himself, and asked the same of others. That philosophy often translated into conflicts with players and management as he evolved into a GM, Vice President, and even part owner of teams.
Can I say this compares favorably to Al Stump's Ty Cobb? No, but then again Stump's version may have been partial fabrication. Something is lacking in this portrayal that I can't put my finger on. Perhaps we don't really get to know Greenberg as much as we do Cobb,Mantle, Clemens, Gehrig, or DiMaggio. Or maybe Greenberg just wasn't as colorful so the story lacks the humor or intensity of the other players. In any event the book is worth reading about a Hall of Famer who lost over 4 years serving in World War 11 and would have likely had at least 500 homeruns if not for that service. His 183 RBI's in one season is still a remarkable accomplishment for any era.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Kindle Customer on January 12, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The best baseball book I have ever read. Hank Greenberg was a professional, a great person, and o yea, he was Jewish. I loved the writing, the flow, the toughness Hankus Pankus showed, his devotion to his religion and to his friends. Well done Mr. Rosengren. You wrote a great book about a great man.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Neal Karlen on March 18, 2013
Format: Hardcover
With "Hank Greenberg: The Hero of Heroes," the historic slugger finally gets the biography he deserves. Rosengren delves into the sometimes mysterious always mythic Greenberg with the zeal of a fine investigative reporter, but brings back his findings in finely nuanced interpretation and written style, making the book a pleasure to read. We are lucky to have John Rosengren, including Hank Greenberg.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Matthew A. Gelbin on April 6, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Being 88 years old, the Hank Greenberg story was very interesting to me. I was a New Yorker as a boy within easy distance of Yankee Stadium who ignored that and became fascinated by Hank Greenberg and the Detroit Tigers. As I grew older I lost all interest in baseball but loved football and track and field meets. I was in the Army for 2 1/2 years during and after World War but I followed the sports news and when I knew that the Tigers were playing the Chicago Cubs for the championship, I made a bet with another soldier on the World Series and of course the Tigers won and I collected my bet. The book brought back memories of years ago. I had forgotten all about Hank Greenberg many years ago but was amazed about the history of his life presented by the author.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Robert Mayer on March 24, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Half about baseball, half about anti-Semitism in America in the 1930s and 1940s, Hank Greenberg comes off as the Jewish Jackie Robinson. This is a totally absorbing biography.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Douglas Quat on December 2, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
Wonderfully research story about one of the most important Jewish Americans of the 20th century. Greenberg was a leader on and off the field, someone we all American could be proud of. His greatness transcended the ball field, as he became a success in the military, in business, and in the front office of several ballclubs. John Rosengren has woven together a fascinating story about a larger than life individual.

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