Other Free Encyclopedias » Famous Sports Stars » Baseball » Hank Greenberg Biography - Preferred Baseball To Schoolwork, First Jewish Baseball Star, Chronology, Highest-paid Player, Career Statistics - SELECTED WRITINGS BY GREENBERG:

Hank Greenberg - Highest-paid Player

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In the wake of disagreements with the Tigers' owners, Greenberg was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1946. Pleased to have Greenberg, the National League team offered the star a contract worth more than any other baseball player had ever received: $100,000. Three days after signing his contract, he married department store heiress Carol Gimbel, with whom he would have two sons and a daughter. Greenberg and Gimbel divorced in 1959.

Yet the baseball star had passed the peak of his career. Bothered by injuries, Greenberg played only one season with the Pirates, slipping to an average of .249 and hitting only twenty-five home runs. He retired in 1947.

Career Statistics

Yr Team AVG GP AB R H HR RBI BB SO SB
DET: Detroit Tigers; PIT: Pittsburgh Pirates.
1930 DET .000 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
1933 DET .301 117 449 59 135 12 87 46 78 6
1934 DET .338 153 593 118 201 26 139 63 93 9
1935 DET .328 152 619 121 203 36 170 87 91 4
1936 DET .348 12 46 10 16 1 16 9 6 1
1937 DET .337 154 594 137 200 40 183 102 101 8
1938 DET .315 155 556 144 175 58 146 119 92 7
1939 DET .312 138 500 112 156 33 112 91 95 8
1940 DET .340 148 573 129 195 41 150 93 75 6
1941 DET .269 19 67 12 18 2 12 16 12 1
1945 DET .311 78 270 47 84 13 60 42 40 3
1946 DET .277 142 523 91 145 44 127 80 88 5
1947 PIT .249 125 402 71 100 25 74 104 73 0
TOTAL .313 1394 5193 1051 1628 331 1276 852 844 58

Turning to the business end of the sport, Greenberg became vice president and farm director for the Cleveland Indians; in 1950 he became the Indians' general manager. He later moved to the Chicago White Sox, as part owner and vice president. On July 23, 1956, he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, in Cooperstown, New York. He retired from the baseball business seven years later, becoming an investment banker. After retiring, Greenberg took up a new sport—tennis—becoming a regular player on the senior circuit, where he won several celebrity tournaments.

When Greenberg died of cancer in 1986, at age 75, baseball fans around the country remembered a player of remarkable power, dignity, and humbleness. As the first Jewish baseball superstar, he had achieved folk hero status among Jewish youth and immigrants in his day. Of more lasting import, Greenberg helped to break the barrier of religion in America's most popular sport.

Awards and Accomplishments

1935, 1937, 1940, 1946 American League leader in RBI
1935, 1938, 1940, 1946 American League leader in home runs
1935, 1940 Most Valuable Player Award, American League
1937 Hits 58 home runs for a career record
1937-40 American League All-Star team
1956 Elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame

Hank Greenberg: The Story of My Life

Every day I'd play ball in Corona Park, across the street from our house in the Bronx. Anytime there was less than a foot of snow, I was playing baseball. The neighbors shook their heads and warned my mother.

Baseball wasn't looked upon as a business, and most of the guys in the game were pretty rowdy. So my parents didn't think much of me pursuing it. They thought I ought to be studying instead of playing baseball. I grew up with typical Jewish parents whose objective was to send their children to college to become doctors or lawyers. As a matter of fact, my two brothers and my sister all graduated from college and went into professional work. But I loved baseball and stuck with it.

In my early days, I was completely engrossed by baseball. On weekdays after school, I'd rush to the park with my glove, bat, and ball, and come home only after it got dark. Weekends were completely devoted to the old field. And instead of coming home for lunch, I'd fill my pockets with fruit and candy and stay down at the ballpark all day. We were just in love with playing baseball and the days weren't long enough.

Source: Greenberg, Hank, with Ira Berkow. Hank Greenberg: The Story of My Life. Chicago: Triumph Books, 2001.

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