4. Hank Greenberg’s Baseball Bat
From the collection of The American Jewish Historical Society
Hank Greenberg was born in Greenwich Village but never swung a bat for a New York team. When the New York Yankees offered him a contract, he instead signed with the Detroit Tigers in 1933. As a sports superstar at the onset of World War II, Greenberg became an inspiration to the Jewish community. He directly defied the negative stereotypes of Jewish people that were perpetuated at the time and embodied the positive ideals of the community. Despite his flourishing young career, Greenberg joined the service in 1941 and served until 1945. After the war he immediately returned to the baseball field. The “powerized” Louisville slugger in the archives of the Center was used by Greenberg during this reprise in his career. Made by Hiller & Bradsby Co., the bat dates back to 1945. Due to preservation reasons, Greenberg’s bat, and Koufax’s jersey, are only available for viewing to serious researchers with special permission, however you can view both items online in the museum’s digital catalog. In 1947 Greenberg moved on from Detroit to play with the Pittsburgh Pirates for the last year of his career. During Greenberg’s fourteen years on the diamond he set multiple home run records, played in four World Series, won many MVP awards and earned the nickname “The Hammer.” He was inducted in to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1956.
If you are an Untapped Cities Insider, you can see some of these items for yourself on a free behind-the-scenes tour of the Center for Jewish History on February 6th. Not an Insider yet? Become a member today to join behind-the-scenes tours and special events all year round!