Hank Greenberg

Hank GreenbergGreenberg was a physical freak in his time in much the same way that Frank Howard was in the 1960s and Randy Johnson was in the 1990s Ė he was bigger and more talented than anyone had seen before.

Itís very likely that Hank would have at least tied Babe Ruthís single season homer record in 1938 had it not been for a rain storm and a rules change. In one game in July, he lost a home run when the game was rained out in the fourth inning. He also hit a ball that bounced into the stands that, under the 1927 rules that Babe hit his 60 under, would have been a home run. Nevertheless, the original Hammeriní Hank put up 58 jacks and drove in 146 runs, which was sort of an off-year for him. The previous season heíd driven in 183.

When Greenberg led the league in home runs and RBI in 1935 he had 101 runs batted in at the All-Star break but wasn’t selected for the American League team. Lou Gehrig and Jimmie Foxx went instead. In those days, two players at each position were chosen.

Leaving Detroit
Greenberg ended up having a very successful career as a general manager after his playing career with the Cleveland Indians, but it could have happened with the Tigers. But in 1946 Hank got into a bit of a controversy when he didn’t shoo away a rumor that he wanted to go to the Yankees to finish his career. Greenberg was from New York and he loved the city, he was always a renaissance man, but he didn’t have a burning desire to play for the Yankees. The rumor started somewhere in the press box but Hank’s mistake was in not dismissing it strongly. As a result, Detroit fans turned on him in the 1946 season. He was actually booed in the last few months of that season. The following January, as the team prepared for the 1947 campaign, they sold Greenberg to the Pirates for a reported ,000. At first, Hank was not going to report, he planned to retire rather than go to Pittsburgh. But he relented and had a decent season for the Bucs, helping to mentor young slugger Ralph Kiner.