Hank Greenberg

From BR Bullpen


Henry Benjamin Greenberg
(Hammerin' Hank)

Inducted into Hall of Fame in 1956

BR page

Biographical Information[edit]


''. . . when I first saw him at bat, he made my eyes pop out," - Joe DiMaggio, quoted at the Hall of Fame page for Hank Greenberg

Hank Greenberg was one of the great sluggers of the 1930s and 1940s. A fearsome batsman who hit 40 or more homers four times during his 13-year major league career, he retired with a .313 BA and a 41 percent OBP. He easily rates as one of the Tigers' greatest players of all-time, and has his life-size sculpture featured at Comerica Park.

Greenberg lost more prime years than most to service for his country, as he originally went in during May 1941 and stayed in after Pearl Harbor through part of the 1945 season. He was still quite good when he returned in 1945, so it is clear that he could have hit at least 100+ more home runs if he had not missed the time.

He was married to Carol Gimbel, whose family owned a chain of department stores. Hank and Carol's son Steve worked for Major League Baseball in the Office of the Commissioner for many years.

He was the first player to hit 25 home runs in a season in both major leagues (Johnny Mize joined him 3 years later). He was also the first player to win the Most Valuable Player Award at two different positions, as a first baseman and as an outfielder.

Greenberg's last game before joining the Army in 1941.

He was drafted on May 7, 1941, at age 30, and reported to Fort Custer, Michigan, but was discharged on December 5, 1941 under the law releasing men over 28 years of age. He re-enlisted on January 30, 1942 and was discharged on June 15, 1945, as a captain with the 20th Bomber Command. He was awarded a Presidential Unit Citation and 4 battle stars. In 1947, Greenberg became the first major league player to earn more than $80,000 in pure salary.

He reached base in 18 straight playoff games, a Tigers record until Miguel Cabrera broke it in 2012.

Greenberg started his career with the semi-pro Bay Parkways in Brooklyn in 1929, hitting .454 with 7 homers, 6 doubles, and a triple, collecting 30 hits in 21 games.

After his playing career, he became General Manager of the Cleveland Indians from 1950 to 1957 and the Chicago White Sox from 1959 to 1961, when he was one of the team's co-owners alongside Bill Veeck. He again partnered Veeck when he bought the White Sox a second time in 1975.

Notable Achievements[edit]

Greenberg meets with Pres. Truman in 1946
  • 1932 MVP Texas League Beaumont Exporters
  • 5-time AL All-Star (1937-1940 & 1945)
  • 2-time AL MVP (1935 & 1940)
  • AL Slugging Percentage Leader (1940)
  • AL OPS Leader (1940)
  • AL Runs Scored Leader (1938)
  • 2-time AL Total Bases Leader (1935 & 1940)
  • 2-time AL Doubles Leader (1934 & 1940)
  • 4-time AL Home Runs Leader (1935, 1938, 1940 & 1946)
  • 4-time AL RBI Leader (1935, 1937, 1940 & 1946)
  • 2-time League Bases on Balls Leader (1938/AL & 1947/NL)
  • 20-Home Run Seasons: 8 (1934, 1935, 1937-1940, 1946-1947)
  • 30-Home Run Seasons: 6 (1935, 1937-1940 & 1946)
  • 40-Home Run Seasons: 4 (1937, 1938, 1940 & 1946)
  • 50-Home Run Seasons: 1 (1938)
  • 100 RBI Seasons: 7 (1934, 1935, 1937-1940 & 1946)
  • 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 6 (1934, 1935 & 1937-1940)
  • 200 Hits Seasons: 3 (1934, 1935 & 1937)
  • Won two World Series with the Detroit Tigers (1935 & 1945)
  • Baseball Hall of Fame: Class of 1956

1934 1935 1936
Mickey Cochrane Hank Greenberg Lou Gehrig
1939 1940 1941
Joe DiMaggio Hank Greenberg Joe DiMaggio

Preceded by
Bill Veeck
Cleveland Indians General Manager
Succeeded by
Frank Lane
Preceded by
Bill Veeck
Chicago White Sox General Manager
Succeeded by
Ed Short

Records Held[edit]

  • Quickest player to reach 100 RBI in a season (75 games) in 1935.
  • Quickest player to reach 900 RBI (933 games) in MLB history.
  • Quickest player to reach 1,000 RBI (1,026 games) in MLB history.
  • Quickest player to reach 1,100 RBI (1,164 games) in MLB history.
  • Quickest player to reach 1,200 RBI (1,266 games) in MLB history.
  • Most RBI (960) in his first 1,000 MLB games
  • Most RBI, AL right handed batter, season, 183, 1937
  • Most home runs, AL right handed batter, season, 58, 1938
  • Extra base hits, right handed batter, season, 103, 1937 (tied with Albert Belle in 1995 and Sammy Sosa in 2001)
  • RBI per game, right handed batter, .915

Further Reading[edit]

  • Scott Ferkovich: "Hank Greenberg", in Scott Ferkovich, ed.: Detroit the Unconquerable: the 1935 World Champion Tigers, SABR, Phoenix, AZ, 2014, pp. 70-74. ISBN 978-1-933599-78-6
  • Ron Kaplan: Hank Greenberg in 1938: Hatred and Home Runs in the Shadow of War, Skyhorse Publishing, Sports Publishing LLC, New York, NY, 2017. ISBN 9781613219911
  • John Klima: The Game Must Go On: Hank Greenberg, Pete Gray, and the Great Days of Baseball on the Home Front in WWII, Thomas Dunne Books, New York, NY, 2015. ISBN 978-1-2500-6479-0
  • Herm Krabbenhoft: "Hank Greenberg's American League RBI Record", The Baseball Research Journal, SABR, Volume 41, Number 1 (Spring 2012), pp. 20-27.
  • John Rosengren: Hank Greenberg: The Hero of Heroes, New American Library, Penguin Books, New York, NY, 2013, ISBN 9780451235763
  • John Rosengren: "Buying the White Sox: A Comic Opera Starring Bill Veeck, Hank Greenberg and Chuck Comiskey", in Stuart Shea, ed.: North Side, South Side, All Around Town, The National Pastime, SABR, 2015. ISBN 978-1-93359987-8

Related Sites[edit]