The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg (1998)

In the 1930s Jewish mothers would ask their sons: “What kind of day did Hank have?” Hank Greenberg, the Detroit Tigers slugger who came close to breaking Babe Ruth’s homerun record, was baseball’s first Jewish star. Tall (6’4″), handsome, and uncommonly good-natured, Greenberg was a secular Jew from the Bronx who became “the baseball Moses,” an icon for everyone from Walter Matthau (“I joined the Beverly Hills tennis club to eat lunch with him. I don’t even play tennis”) to Alan Dershowitz (“I thought he’d become the first Jewish president”). Aviva Kempner’s loving tribute is chock full of wonderful archival footage from the ’30s and ’40s and interviews with a self-effacing Greenberg and many of his Tiger teammates. Plus Mandy Patinkin’s rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” — in Yiddish!


hank greenberg

In light of this past Rosh Hashana, reporter Noam Hassenfeld for NPR made a special titled “Hank Greenberg” Caught Between Baseball and His Religion” with commentary from Aviva Kempner. Listen to the NPR Clip HERE.