Take me out to “Our Hank: The 80th Anniversary of Baseball’s Hebrew Hammer” Apr. 4 at the Washington D.C. Jewish Community Center, featuring the new biography “Hank Greenberg: Hero of Heroes”, and documentary “The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg”, with new interviews of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, among other fans.
“Hammerin'” Hank Greenberg was a five-time Major League Baseball All-Star, a two-time American League MVP, and a Hall of Famer. He was also Jewish. In the 1930s and 1940s, Greenberg transformed the way non-Jews viewed Jews, and the way Jews saw themselves.
And here’s how Joe DiMaggio saw Greenberg: “When I first saw him at bat, he made my eyes pop out. He was one of the truly great hitters.”
The DCJCC’s program features author John Rosengren discussing his latest sports book, “Hank Greenberg: Hero of Heroes” (Think Piece Publishing), and Aviva Kempner, screening new extras in her Peabody Award-winning documentary, “The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg”.
Kempner’s 80th anniversary commemorative DVD of her Emmy-nominated Greenberg doc includes never before seen interviews with Michigan Members of Congress Sen. Carl Levin and his brother Rep. Sander Levin, White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, among other notables.
Kempner also wrote, directed, and produced the critically-acclaimed “Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg” about Gertrude Berg, the creator, writer, and star of radio and TV’s classic “The Goldbergs”. Berg pioneered the sitcom format, and also took a brave stand against McCarthyism.
This is Rosengren’s second book featuring Greenberg, following “Hammerin’ Hank, George Almighty and the Say Hey Kid: The Year that Changed Baseball Forever”.
Hammerin’ Hank Greenberg’s one of only three players to earn MVP honors at two different positions: first base (1935) and left field (1940), according to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. He joined the Detroit Tigers in 1933 and played for them most of his career, before joining the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1947.
Greenberg faced a dilemma in 1934 when the Tigers were in the World Series, which fell on the Jewish High Holidays. He compromised. He played on Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. His two home runs won the game, 2-1. Ten days later, he spent Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, in a synagogue. The Tigers lost.
“Many baseball fans think of Hank Greenberg as a legendary baseball player,” said Lili Kalish Gersch, director of literary, music and dance programs at the DCJCC, “but during a time when Jews struggled to make it in mainstream America, he was a true hero.”
For more info: “Our Hank: The 80th Anniversary of Baseball’s Hebrew Hammer”, Washington D.C. Jewish Community Center (DCJCC), 1529 16th Street at Q Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. Part of the DCJCC’s Authors Out Loud series. Thursday, Apr. 4 at 7:30 P.M., For tickets, washingtondcjcc.org/authorsoutloud.