From Hank Greenberg to Delmon Young

By Jack Engelhard

There’s a clip somewhere showing Hank Greenberg rounding the bases after a homerun and upon reaching the dugout none of his Detroit Tigers teammates offered so much as a smile or a handshake. They ignored him. Well, he was Jewish. There’s evidence that he suffered for that as much as Jackie Robinson suffered for being black.

Two great ballplayers, one Jewish, one black, and sharing the same abuses, they became friends.

Greenberg was known for his reserve but he once challenged the entire New York Yankees dugout after their taunts became too much for him. He wasn’t religious but, as the first Jewish superstar in American sports, Greenberg took himself out of an important game because it fell on Yom Kippur…years BEFORE Sandy Koufax…and…for World War II, he refused deferment and got himself drafted into the military BEFORE Ted Williams.

We could go on about Hall of Famer Hank Greenberg (183 RBIs, 1937…58 homeruns, 1938…), but then there’d be no room to talk about Delmon Young. He also plays for Detroit except that this is another year, another generation, and what’s changed? Nothing much.

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