Of Life Magazine, Oprah and the Life and Times of Hank Greenberg
Hank Greenberg didn’t think he could play in Game 7 of the World Series. Said his wrist hurt too much.
So Greenberg did, batting cleanup that day 52 years ago in Wrigley Field. The first three Tigers singled to give Detroit a 1-0 lead. Up came Greenberg and nobody knew that he was in pain.
He bunted. Dropped a sacrifice bunt that moved the runners to second and third. The Tigers scored five that inning and went on to beat the Cubs, 9-3 to win the 1945 World Series. That’s the last time the World Series was played in Wrigley Field.
Saw that the other day when they showed the Life and Times of Hank Greenberg on television the other day. Greenberg is a Hall of Famer who played with the Detroit Tigers from 1933-46, although he missed almost four complete seasons because of World War II.
He was the first big star to enlist. Not sure he saw action – they were vague about that – but he was in Burma.
Remember reading as a kid that Greenberg was actually terrified at coming to the plate. This was early in his career and he had a deep-seated fear of failure. Then one day he told Charlie Gehringer: "Get on base and I’ll drive you home."
Gehringer doubled. Greenberg singled him home. He was a monster after that.
Gehringer is in the Hall of Fame too. He was the guy who had five straight 200-hit seasons as a second baseman. Michael Young has tied that streak and can beat it this year.
Greenberg once said, "The only way you can get along with newspapermen is to say something one minute and something different the next."
But he was the general manager of the Cleveland Indians from 1949-57. The Yankees won the pennant five straight years in 1949-53, then the Indians won it in 1954. They won 111 games and were swept by the New York Giants in the World Series.
Greenberg wrote a big article in Life Magazine entitled: "How We Beat the Yankees."
Maybe the Rangers hire Nolan Ryan and he’ll eventually write a big article on "How We Beat the Angels."
Only problem is, don’t think Life magazine is still around. Is it? Maybe it’s a monthly. Hard to tell at the checkout line at Tom Thumb. All those magazines and newspapers only have Britney Spears on the cover. Or Oprah Winfrey. Oprah’s magazine only has Oprah. Guess she doesn’t have to worry about the Sports Illustrated cover jinx.
Greenberg hit a home run in his first game back on July 1, 1945. He had 11 multi-home run games that summer, a Major League record that Sammy Sosa tied in 1998. The next year he hit 44 home runs and drove in 127 runs to lead the American League
But that winter his picture appeared in the paper with him holding a Yankees uniform. Greenberg was from New York and there was some vague reference to him wanting to finish his career with the Yankees.
Detroit owner Walter Briggs immediately sold Greenberg to the Pittsburgh Pirates for $75,000. Owners could do that then.
Pitchers and catchers in two weeks.