One man modeled assimilation for a generation of Jews struggling to find their way in the New World:  Hank Greenberg.  With his broad shoulders and mighty bat, the Hall of Fame ballplayer transformed the way Gentiles viewed Jews and the way Jews saw themselves.  During a time of intense persecution abroad and at home, the six-foot four-inch Greenberg stood tall as a beacon of hope and, ultimately, became a hero to all Americans.  Hank Greenberg:  The Hero of Heroes is a compelling story told John Rosengren. 

The award-winning author plumbed military records, court documents, FBI files, immigration papers, census reports, Tiger archives, MLB daily logs along with Greenberg's personal scrapbooks plus interviewed scores of surviving players and fans to unearth new details about Greenberg’s career and life never before reported.  From his dilemma on whether or not to play on the High Holy Days to the controversy surrounding Greenberg’s induction into the Army,  Rosengren captures the essence of a complicated man–one who desired attention yet craved privacy; who was good-natured yet thin-skinned; intelligent but blind to his public relations gaffes.  Rosengren’s journalistic skill, storytelling ability and balanced eye combine to make this the definitive biography of the most important Jew of the 20th century and the greatest Jewish athlete of all-time.

Buy on Barnes & Noble

 

ENDORSEMENTS

"Rosengren pens a textured tale -- of Henry Greenberg, the Moses of Baseball; Hankus Spankus, the home run king and Hall of Famer; and Hank himself, steadfast son, teammate and father. This a book for those who don't know this Hero of Heroes and, much more, for those who think they do."
--Larry Tye, author of Satchel: The Life and Times of an American Legend

"John Rosengren’s Hank Greenberg: The Hero of Heroes is the best and most important biography ever written about Hank Greenberg.  Rosengren gives us not just a ballplayer, but a man of passion, intellect, character and substance.  In this well written, deeply sensitive and thoroughly researched account, Greenberg’s achievement as an athlete and a human being are fully realized."
    --Glenn Stout, author of Fenway 1912 (Winner of SABR's 2011 Seymour Medal)and Series Editor of The Best American Sports Writing

"John Rosengren’s copious research offers new insights into the hurdles that Hank Greenberg faced and his tenacity as a player and bravery during World War II that made him the 'hero of heroes.'"
    --Aviva Kempner, director of The Life and Times of Henry Greenberg

"Such nachas I have for both both Hank Greenberg and John Rosengren. This is one of the greatest stories in sports history, and John has told it in a riveting and entertaining way. And you don't even have to be a huge sports fan to enjoy it (I'm not). Because the book is also a tale of religion, war, assimilation, fame, money and family."
     --A. J. Jacobs, author of The Year of Living Biblically, Know-It-All, and Drop Dead Healthy

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

John Rosengren is an award-winning author of seven books, including Blades of Glory:  The True Story of a Young Team Bred to Win and Hammerin' Hank, George Almighty and the Say Hey Kid:  The Year that Changed Baseball Forever.  His articles have appeared in Cycle Sport, Men's Journal, Reader's Digest, Runner's World, Sports Illustrated and Tennis, among other publications.  He is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research and the American Society of Journalists & Authors.  He lives with his wife and their two children in Minneapolis.  He bats right, throws right as a catcher for the Richfield Rockets in the 35-over Federal Baseball League.

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EVENTS

 

 

UPCOMING

HALL OF FAME INDUCTION WEEKEND

Saturday and Sunday, July 26-27
10:00 a.m.
Pioneer Square
Main Street
Cooperstown, New York

John will be signing copies of Hank Greenberg:  The Hero of Heroes  on Main Street's Autograph Row almost direclty across from the National Baseball Hall of Fame during Induction Weekend.

JEWISH HERITAGE DAY

Sunday, September 14, 2014
1:00 p.m.
Comerica Park
Detroit, Michigan

John will be on hand to represent Hank Greenberg at the Tigers' Jewish Heritage Day before their game against the Cleveland Indians.  Fitting that two of Hank's teams should be present for the event.

SPEAKING OF GREENBERG

Monday, September 29, 2014
9:30 a.m.
Church of the Risen Savior
County Road 42 East
Burnsville, Minnesota

John will be talking about Hank Greenberg in the days leading up to World War II as part of the Senior Adults Learning Together series.

PAST EVENTS

OUR HANK:  THE 80TH ANNIVERSARY OF BASEBALL'S HEBREW HAMMER

Thursday, April 4, 2013
7:30 p.m.
The Chaim Kempner Author Series
$10; $8 Members/Students with ID/Seniors
Washington DC Jewish Community Center
1529 16th Street NW, Washington, D.C.

An evening discussing the Hall of Fame baseball player and first Jewish sports star in America with Aviva Kempner, director of the award-winning documentary "The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg"

For more info http://thejdc.convio.net/site/Calendar?id=138081&view=Detai

L.A. TIMES FESTIVAL OF BOOKS

Sunday, April 21, 2013
10:30 a.m.
"Great Balls of Fire: Sports & Sports Writing"
32nd Street/USC MaST High School
University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA

John will sit on a panel focusing on sports biographies along with Steven Travers and Celia Walden.   For more info http://events.latimes.com/festivalofbooks/

AN EVENING WITH JOHN ROSENGREN AND AVIVA KEMPNER

Thursday, April 25, 2013
7:00 p.m.
Bergino Baseball Clubhouse
67 East 11 Street, the landmark Cast Iron Building, New York, NY 

The author and filmmaker will discuss Hank Greenberg and answer audience questions in this event at the famous baseball boutique.  See more at www.bergino.com

LUNCH WITH JOHN ROSENGREN AND AVIVA KEMPNER

Friday, April 26, 2013
12:00 p.m.
Yogi Berra Museum
8 Yogi Berra Drive, Little Falls, New Jersey

The author and filmmaker will discuss Hank Greenberg and answer audience questions over lunch. See more at http://www.yogiberramuseum.org/

SHABBAT SHABANG DINNERS:  AN EVENING OF HAMMERIN' HANK GREENBERG

Friday, April 26, 2013
The Jewish Community Center in Manhattan
334 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, NY

Author John Rosengren and filmmaker Aviva Kempner will discuss Hank Greenberg and answer audience questions over dinner. www.jccmanhattan.org/cat-content.aspx?catid=3004

HANK GREENBERG:  THE HERO OF HEROES

Sunday, May 5
2:00 p.m.
Sabes Jewish Community Center
4300 S. Cedar Lake Road, Minneapolis, MN
John will talk about what made Hall of Famer Hank Greenberg a hero and how he became the most important American Jew of the 20th century.

TALKING ABOUT HANK GREENBERG

Saturday, May 18
1:00 p.m.
Bullpen Theatre
National Baseball Hall of Fame
Cooperstown, New York

As part of the Baseball Hall of Fame's Author Series, John will give a presentation about Hall of Famer Hank Greenberg and answer audience questions.  Book signing at the Hall of Fame book store will follow.

GREENBERG ON THE STREETS OF COOPERSTOWN

Saturday, May 18
4:00 - 5:00 p.m.
The Cooperstown Book Nook
61 Main Street, Cooperstown, NY

John will sign copies of HANK GREENBERG:  The Hero of Heroes on the sidewalk in front of the book store.

HANK GREENBERG IN THE WINDY CITY

Wednesday, May 29
8:00 p.m.
Milt's BBQ for the Perplexed
3411 N Broadway
Chicago, Illinois

Hosted by the Anshe Emet Synagogue men's club

Chicago author Jonathan Eig, who has written biographies about Jackie Robinson and Lou Gehrig,  will interview John about Hank Greenberg, especially his relationship to Chicago, where he owned the White Sox with Bill Veeck from 1959-1961 and again in 1975.  To register for the event, go to http://conta.cc/ZYbK3A

THE GREAT DEBATE:  GREENBERG OR KOUFAX

Saturday, June 8
7:05 p.m.
Saint Paul Saints game at Midway Stadium
Saint Paul, Minnesota

Who's the Greatest Jewish Baseball Player ever?  Sandy Koufax?  Hank Greenberg?  Al Rosen?  Ryan Braun?  Someone else?  Attend the game and join the Great Debate with John Rosengren. Get tickets at http://saintsbaseball.com

HANK GREENBERG:  THE HERO OF HEROES

Tuesday, June 25
7:30 a.m.
Minneapolis South Rotary Club 
4th Avenue & Lake Street
Minneapolis, Minnesota

John will tell Hank's story of courage and integrity in the face of adversity and prejudice. This event is free and open to the public.

HAMMERIN' HANK IN HIGHLAND PARK

Wednesday, July 10
7:00 p.m.
Highland Park Library
494 Laurel Ave  
Highland Park, IL 60035

John will speak about Hank Greenberg, answer audience questions and sign copies of HANK GREENBERG:  The Hero of Heroes.  The event is sponsored by the Highland Park Library and Lake Forest Bookstore.  And it's free.

HANK GREENBERG AND THE EDDIE LAKE SOCIETY

Thursday, July 11
12:00 p.m.
DeCarlo's Banquet
6015 E. 10 Mile Road
Warren, Michigan

John will speak to the members of the exclusive baseball club founded by Detroit sportswriter Joe Falls. Event is by invitation only.

HANK GREENBERG:  THE HERO OF HEROES

Thursday, July 11
7:00 p.m.
Barnes & Noble
6800 Orchard Lake Road
West Bloomfield, Michigan

John will speak about Hank Greenberg, answer audience questions and sign copies of HANK GREENBERG:  The Hero of Heroes.  

HANK GREENBERG:  LOVE AND HATE IN DETROIT

Friday, July 12
3:00 p.m.
Ernie Harwell Room
Detroit Public Library
5201 Woodward Avenue
Detroit, Michigan

John will speak to the local chapter of the Society for American Baseball Research about Greenberg's sometimes testy, sometimes happy relationship with Detroit.  The event is free, and you don't need to be a SABR member to attend.

BOOK CLUB DISCUSSION

Sunday, July 28, 2013
10:30 a.m.
Men's Only Book Club
via Skype

John will discuss Hank Greenberg:  The Hero of Heroes with the Men's Only Book Club.

Monday, July 29, 2013
7:00 p.m.
The Park Avenue Book Club
chez Kim and Cliff Greene

John will discuss Hank Greenberg:  The Hero of Heroes with the Park Avenue Book Club. 

SPECIAL SABR CONVENTION PRESENTATION

Thursday, August 1
Philadelphia Marriott Downtown
1201 Market Street Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania

Filmmaker Aviva Kempner will show clips of fresh material from her new DVD set that also includes the original documentary "The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg."  Aviva and John, a SABR member, will discuss Hank Greenberg and answer audience questions during this special presentation at the annual convention of the Society for American Baseball Research. 

HANK GREENBERG AT COMERICA PARK

Sunday, September 22, 2013
12:40 p.m
Comerica Park
Detroit, Michigan

John Rosengren and filmmaker Aviva Kempner will join the Tigers in honoring Hank Greenberg in a pregame ceremony before the home team plays the White Sox.

AN INTIMATE EVENING WITH HANK GREENBERG

Sunday, September 22, 2013
7:00 p.m.
Jewish Community Center
West Bloomfield, Michigan

Detroit-bred, film maker Aviva Kempner and Hank Greenberg biographer John Rosengren at The Berman Center for the Performing Arts. Kempner will show new clips from her original documentary “The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg.” Rosengren, author of the definitive biography, “Hank Greenberg: The Hero of Heroes,” will speak about Greenberg and his place in the city’s history. Refreshments follow at the JCC Matthews Sports Exhibit.  The event is free and open to the public.  http://bit.ly/14Mi40N

NOSHING AND JOSHING ABOUT HANK GREENBERG

Monday, September 23, 2013
Noon
Temple Israel
5725 Walnut Lake Road
West Bloomfield Township, Michigan

As part of Temple Israel’s lunch and learn program, John will share a meal and stories about Hank Greenberg. To register, visit http://www.temple-israel.org/‎

HANK GREENBERG and MARK FIDRYCH

Monday, September 23, 2013
7:00 p.m.
Nicola’s Books
2513 Jackson Avenue
Ann Arbor, Michigan

John will  appear with Doug Wilson, author of "The Bird:  The Life and Legacy of Mark Fidrych," to talk about two Tiger fan favorites.  www.nicolasbooks.com/‎

HANK GREENBERG:  THE HERO OF HEROES

Tuesday, September 24, 2013
7:00 p.m.
Schuler Books
2820 Towne Center Boulevard
Lansing, Michigan

John will talk about Hank Greenberg, answer audience questions and sign copies of his new biography of the Tigers' Hall of Fame slugger.  http://www.schulerbooks.com/event/john-rosengren-eastwood

HOMECOMING HANK

Saturday, September 28, 2013
11:15 a.m to 12:30 p.m.
St. John’s University Bookstore
Sexton Commons
Collegeville, Minnesota

As part of homecoming weekend, Rosengren SJU ’86, will sign copies of his latest book,HANK GREENBERG:  The Hero of Heroes, at the campus bookstore.

HANK GREENBERG:  BASEBALL STAR, JEWISH HERO, AMERICAN LEGEND

Wednesday, October 2, 2013
7:30-9:00 p.m.
Alumni Lounge
St. John's University
Collegeville, Minnesota

In a program presented by the Jay Phillips Center for Interfaith Learning program, Rabbi David Wirtschafter will interview author John Rosengren, SJU '86, about the subject of his new biography, Hank Greenberg: The Hero of Heroes.  http://www.csbsju.edu/Jay-Phillips-Center.htm

HANK GREENBERG:  BASEBALL STAR, JEWISH HERO, AMERICAN LEGEND

Tuesday, October 8, 2013
7:30 to 9:00 p.m.
Woulfe Alumni Hall North (378)
Anderson Student Center
University of St. Thomas
St. Paul, Minnesota

In a program presented by the Jay Phillips Center for Interfaith Learning program, Rabbi David Wirtschafter will interview author John Rosengren about the subject of his new biography, Hank Greenberg: The Hero of Heroes.  http://bit.ly/16065hL

DESIGNATED MENSCH:  HANK GREENBERG

Wednesday, October 9, 2013
7:00 p.m.
Bet Shalom Congregation
13613 Orchard Road, Minnetonka, Minnesota  

John will tell stories about Hankus Pankus, ask some trivia questions and answer audience questions. http://www.betshalom.org    

BOOK CLUB DISCUSSION

Tuesday, October 22, 2013
7:00 p.m.
The Gefiltefishers Book Club
chez Ira Rabinowitz

John will discuss Hank Greenberg:  The Hero of Heroes with The Gefiltefishers Book Club.

HANK GREENBERG AND THE LESSONS HE HAS TO TEACH US 

Monday, October 28
9:30 a.m.
St. Thomas Academy
949 Mendota Heights Drive
Mendota Heights, Minnesota

John will address the students and community of St. Thomas Academy about the lessons to be learned from Hank Greenberg about tolerance, perseverance and triumphing over adversity. 

WHY HANK GREENBERG WOULD BE IRRELEVANT TODAY (BUT ISN'T)

Saturday, November 2
9:00 a.m.
Faith Mennonite Church
2720 E. 22nd Street 
Minneapolis, Minnesota

At the fall meeting of the local SABR chapter, John will discuss the context of Hank Greenberg's career--the intense ethnic identification, the anti-Semitism of the '30s and baseball's prominence--that caused him to become a cultural icon and how that has changed today. 

HANK GREENBERG IN THE CLASSROOM

Thursday, November 7
2:00 p.m.
Collegiate School
Richmond, Virginia
via Skype

will chat with students in Brian Ross's Sports in Culture class, who have been reading about Hank Greenberg, including excerpts from Hank Greenberg:  The Hero of Heroes.

HANKUS PANKUS, THE GREATEST JEWISH BALLPLAYER

Sunday, November 10, 2013
5:00 p.m.
Evelyn Rubenstein JCC
Houston, Texas

John will tell stories about Hank Greenberg, who became the standard bearer for a generation of American Jews as a Hall of Fame baseball player, and answer audience questions.  http://erjcchouston.org/bookfair

HANKUS PANKUS, THE GREATEST JEWISH BALLPLAYER

Thursday, November 14, 2013
7:30 p.m.
Genesee Valley Club
Rochester, New York

John will tell stories about Hank Greenberg, who became the standard bearer for a generation of American Jews as a Hall of Fame baseball player, and answer audience questions. http://www.rjbf.org/events/37-john-rosengren

JEWS AND BASEBALL:  HANK GREENBERG AND FRIENDS

Sunday, November 17, 2013
4:00 p.m.
Marcus JCC of Atlanta
Dunwoody, Georgia

John will join authors Robert Weintraub and Larry Ruttman to tell stories about Hank Greenberg and other Jewish baseball players. http://www.atlantajcc.org/pldb-live/20470/

HANK GREENBERG:  THE HERO OF HEROES

Wednesday, January 8, 2014
7:30 p.m.
Jewish Federation of Collier County
2500 Vanderbilt Beach Road
Naples, Florida

John will discuss Greenberg's place in baseball and American history in a special presentation to the Men's Cultural Alliance.

SPEAKING OF GREENBERG

Tuesday, February 18, 2014
11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
Butler Reception Room
St. Xavier University
3700 W. 103rd Street
Chicago, Illinois

As part of the Farrell Forum, John will speak to the Renaissance Academy about Hank Greenberg and his place in American history.

 

WHY HANK GREENBERG WOULD BE IRRELEVANT TODAY (BUT ISN'T)

March 13, 2014
8:30-10:20 a.m.
NINE Spring Training Conference
Fiesta Resort Conference Center
Tempe, Arizona

John will discuss the context of Hank Greenberg's career--the intense ethnic identification, the anti-Semitism of the '30s and baseball's prominence--that caused him to become a cultural icon and how that has changed today.  

HANK GREENBERG'S MICHIGAN FOOTPRINT

Friday, March 28, 2014
Michigan In Perspective:  The Local History Conference
Sterling Heights, Michigan

John will speak about Hank Greenberg's legacy in Michigan at the Historical Society of Michigan's annual conference.

HANK GREENBERG'S DREAMS

Sunday, April 6, 2014
4:00 p.m.
National Museum of American Jewish History
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

As part of the National Museum of American Jewish History's new exhibit, "Chasing Dreams:  Baseball and Becoming American," John will talk about the ways baseball provided a means of assimilation and celebrity for Hank Greenberg. http://bit.ly/1aK3JIb

ONE FOR THE HISTORY BOOKS:  PIVOTAL LA SPORTS STORIES 

Sunday, April 13, 2014
12:30 p.m.
University of Southern California
Los Angeles, California

John will be on a panel at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books with Jeff Pearlman, whose new book "Showtime" looks at the 1980s Los Angeles Lakers, and Andy McCue, author of "Mover and Shaker:  Walter O'Malley, the Dodgers and Baseball's Westward Expansion."  David Davies will moderate the event.  He is the author of "Showdown at Shepherd's Bush: The 1908 Olympic Marathon and the Three Runners Who Launched a Sporting Craze" and "Marathon Crasher: The Life and Times of Merry Lepper, the First American Woman to Run a Marathon."

GET ON THE ROSTER:  SO YOU WANT TO BE A SPORTSWRITER?  

Saturday, April 26, 2014
10:45 am
Roosevelt Hotel
45 East 45th Street
New York, New York

At the annual writers conference hosted by the American Society of Journalists and Authors, ASJA member John Rosengren will discuss sportswriting on a panel with Ted Keith, SI.com editor; Emma Span, Sports on Earth editor; and Josh Barnett, USA Today Sports Weekly editor.  For more info see http://www.asja.org/for-writers/annual-conference/2014/schedule-singlesession.php?conf_number=S06

BREAKFAST WITH GREENBERG

Saturday, April 27, 2014
10:00 a.m.
Somerset, New Jersey

John will speak about Greenberg to the Renaissance Men's Club over brunch.

 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014
7:00 p.m.
Judson Memorial Baptist Church
4101 Harriet Avenue South
Minneapolis, Minnesota

In an event hosted by Judson Memorial and Shir Tikvah Congregation, John will tell Hank Greenberg's story of assimilation through the national pastime.

THE GREAT FENWAY PARK WRITERS SERIES

Friday, May 16, 2014
Noon
Fenway’s EMC Club (enter at 20 Yawkey Way)

John will be speaking about Hank Greenberg and his legacy along with author Ian Browne (Idiots Revisted) at a luncheon as part of the only writers series sponsored by a Major League Baseball club. RSVP through Dan Lyons, lyonsd@redsox.com 

THE SJU LUNCH BUNCH

Thursday, June 12, 2014
11:30 am
Park Tavern
3401 Louisiana Avenue South
St. Louis Park, Minnesota

John, a 1986 graduate of St. John's University, will join a group of fellow SJU alumni for lunch to tell stories about baseball and the writing life.

 

 

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REVIEWS

From the Los Angeles Times:

"Somehow, Greenberg endured to become not just a hero, but a social pioneer. Well before Jackie Robinson, even before the formation of the state of Israel, the Detroit first baseman became a powerful symbol in the battle against bigotry and anti-Semitism, what one newspaper at the time called 'that elusive Hebrew star.'

"Rosengren, a Minneapolis-based author who has written extensively on sports, does a fine job placing Greenberg's accomplishments against this backdrop, as well as the chilling developments taking place across Europe at the time. As Dachau factories were being turned into prototypes for Nazi concentration camps, the prominent young star headed to spring training with the Tigers, giving his career even more resonance."  --Chris Erskine

Read more at lat.ms/11i9i9F

From the Minneapolis Star Tribune: 

 Rosengren has researched and written a first-rate biography of a professional athlete who was also an interesting human being off the playing field — and interesting in part because an entire religion looked to him to ameliorate its unhappy history of persecution. That is a huge burden to place upon an individual simply because he could hit and catch baseballs better than 99 percent of everybody else.--Steve Weinberg

Read more at: http://bit.ly/XRAZXd

From the Los Angeles Daily News:

"The truths will always set you free when you’re trying to correct history of a man’s baseball accomplishments. More authors should have that focus instead of just trying to reshuffle the files and present a rosy narrative of a subject just to appeal to the masses who already have invested a life-long period of hero-worshiping in the process."--Tom Hoffarth

Read more at http://bit.ly/179ae3P

From the Jewish Book Council

“If you only read one book on the Jewish baseball great, this is the one to pick.”

Read more at http://bit.ly/ZjlyVt

From the Times of Israel: 

John Rosengren’s Hank Greenberg: The Hero of Heroes  is a carefully researched work that tells the story of the obstacles Greenberg overcame as a ballplayer, of his bravery as a soldier during World War II and as a hero to Jewish Americans struggling to find their place in the New World.

Read More at: http://bit.ly/17uVqgT

From Newsday: 

Rosengren’s book is an evocative portrait of Detroit, and baseball, in the 1930s and 1940s, but it’s also a portrait of how the Jewish people and baseball interacted: “He had begun to change the way Jews thought about baseball and the way baseball fans -- Americans -- thought about Jews.”

Read more at http://bloom.bg/100cF2h

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

A phenomenal baseball player (and, at times, a prescient general manager and owner, who advocated free agency, American and National League expansion, shorter games, and inter-league play), Hank Greenberg exhibited great courage, intelligence, and integrity.

Read more at http://bit.ly/1qLSWHB

From Travels with Henry:

The best baseball stories make great literature even if you’re not the most devoted baseball fan.  They’re always stories of moral crises, human foibles, victory, defeat, and ultimately the character of America. Minneapolis author John Rosengren has his own contribution on deck, just in time for the season opener, Hank Greenberg: The Hero of Heroes.  Greenberg, a Hall of Famer, played in the 1930s and 40s, primarily as a first baseman for the Detroit Tigers. One of the great power hitters of his generation, he racked up home runs and RBIs the way Hillary Clinton has logged frequent flyer miles. But what Rosengren zeros in on, and what makes the story most interesting, is Greenberg’s integrity in the face of the intense religious and racial bigotry of the times. He was the first Jewish Superstar in professional sports and played against the backdrop of the Hitler era, the anti-Semitism of Detroit’s Henry Ford, and that of his own teammates. Greenberg became the center of national attention in 1934 when he refused to play on Yom Kippur, though the Tigers needed him to win the pennant race. He was also among the first players to welcome Jackie Robinson to Major League baseball.  --Terri Smith

Read more at http://offthebeatenpagetravel.com/

From Fansided Radio:

Rosengren has done a heck of a job in covering Greenberg’s time growing up and the anti-Semitism that he dealt with while playing in the minor leagues and with the Detroit Tigers.

Take out the four years that Greenberg lost to World War 2 and who knows if he ends up with 500 or 600 home runs in his career. While other ballplayers that departed for the service continued to stay in athletic shape by playing barnstorming baseball games, Greenberg didn’t. Ultimately, he paid for that with his career when he came back from the war. --Daniel Solzman

Read more at http://bit.ly/XGAcsA

From MLB.com:

There is generally an argument to be made against referring to any sports star short of Jackie Robinson as a "hero." The heroes who emerge in the rest of life often make that case a compelling one.

But there may be room for another great baseball player to reside in that lofty neighborhood. That case is convincingly made in "Hank Greenberg: Hero of Heroes," a new biography by John Rosengren.

There isn't any doubt about Greenberg's greatness as a hitter, or his contributions as a player. He was twice a Most Valuable Player -- once as a first baseman, once as an outfielder. He was the premier right-handed power hitter of his time, hitting 58 home runs in a season in an era when that number had much greater significance than it would later.  --Mike Bauman

Read more at: http://atmlb.com/13zl70N

From About.com

“Rosengren has revealed a remarkable story of endurance and success in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.”

Read more at http://bit.ly/12mLio6

From The Jewish Daily Forward:

"Rosengren’s superbly researched biography is easily the most comprehensive book ever written about the first Jewish player to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, and it nimbly separates fact from the many fictions and half-truths that have long surrounded the subject. From Greenberg’s days as a homesick minor leaguer through his rise to superstardom with the Tigers, his four-year stint in the U.S. Army Air Forces, his postwar comeback, and his tumultuous second career as a general manager and part-owner of the Cleveland Indians and, later, the Chicago White Sox (legendary baseball promoter Bill Veeck was his partner in both teams), Rosengren does a fine job of chronicling the triumphs, frustrations and controversies that studded his life and career. He also paints a vivid picture of the virulent prejudice that Jews faced in America of the 1930s, and illustrates how the handsome, heroic Greenberg almost single-handedly upended the popular stereotyping of Jews as cowardly weaklings and avaricious shylocks — and how he helped an entire generation of Jews assimilate into American life."     --Dan Epstein, author of Big Hair and Plastic Grass:  A Funky Ride through Baseball and America in the Swinging '70s

Read more at http://bit.ly/ZrjXA7

From Library Journal:

"On one level this is a traditional sports biography. We learn of great Detroit Tiger player Greenberg’s life in baseball, especially his 1937 quest to top Lou Gehrig’s American League record for RBIs in a season (he fell one short) and to best Babe Ruth’s major league home run record (he missed by two). Of more importance, this account of Hank (born Hyman) Greenberg’s life is a reminder that bigotry is an equal opportunity monster. Few today recall that, in 1930’s America, Jews were seen as “others” and scorned almost as much as African Americans were. Greenberg became an icon for American Jews and filled that role with dignity, going about his business effectively and fighting when treated unjustly. This is what made him “the hero of heroes.

”VERDICT Rosengren’s well-written book is recommended to all fans looking for a full Greenberg biography. This should also appeal to readers seeking to learn about social justice." —JB

From Kirkus Reviews:

"A veteran sportswriter fondly recalls the life of “the greatest Jewish ballplayer of all time.”

"While not the first Jew to play major league baseball—and Sandy Koufax fans will argue he wasn’t the greatest—Hank Greenberg (1911–1986) was the first to succeed spectacularly, paving the way for Jews in the national pastime as Jackie Robinson did for African-Americans. In this cradle-to-grave biography, Rosengren (Journalism/Univ. of Minnesota; Hammerin’ Hank, George Almighty and the Say Hey Kid, 2008, etc.) pays particular attention to Greenberg’s playing days, to his towering achievements in the game, to the 47-month chunk of his prime lost to World War II and to his later career as a baseball executive. We learn, as well, about the man: his devotion to his parents, his tireless work ethic, his modesty, his short fuse and his popularity with the ladies. Though not especially devout, the “Jewish Babe Ruth” famously refused to play on Yom Kippur in 1934, a decision that simultaneously chanced the ridicule of gentiles and signaled to Jews that tradition need not be wholly sacrificed to assimilation. The slugger fully understood his symbolic role, the feature of Greenberg’s story that most clearly engages Rosengren. During this feared hitter’s heyday—a time when Hitler assumed power in Germany, when the KKK thrived in America’s South, Detroit’s own Henry Ford was the nation’s best known anti-Semite, “an age when Jews were considered weak, unathletic and impotent,”—Greenberg emerged as a powerful figure, an accomplished and unapologetic ethnic standard-bearer. Rosengren traces the steps toward Greenberg’s triumph, vividly reminding us of his hard-earned, path-breaking role.

"A sensitive look at the cultural impact of the man who once was “the face of Judaism in America.”

Read more at: http://bit.ly/Z3q3XL

From Publishers Weekly:

"The crux of Rosengren's warm-hearted, intelligent biography is that by achieving grand success in the national pastime, Greenberg changed how the world views Jews. . . .And the era--marked by the seemingly interminable misery of the Great Depression and Hitler's growing dominance--imbued Greenberg's athletic accomplishments with special significance. "He showed Jews the way to assimilate,' Rosengren writes, 'and elevated their esteem among their Gentile peers.' . . . In this ode to the good old days of sports that is never maudlin or condescending, Rosengren makes us wish that today's athletes would represent causes bigger than their stats."

From Catholic Hotdish:

"What Rosengren has done, it seems to this fan of baseball past as well as present, is bring to life a man and a baseball era worthy of being better known by those who love the game.

Like another Henry when Aaron was harassed by bigots as he chased the then elusive 60 home run mark, Greenberg too heard the catcalls and received the threatening letters in the year he hit 58. America’s prejudices die hard, if they ever die.

But given the background of Nazism abroad and bigoted ignorance at home, Greenberg’s accomplishments deserve an airing with just the excellence Rosengren’s source-filled, reader-friendly, baseball-loving treatment provides."  --Bob Zyskowski

Read more at: http://bit.ly/VELPiG

From Ron Kaplan’s Kaplan’s Korner in the New Jersey Jewish News:

I spoke with Rosengren — who is not Jewish, by the way (not that there’s anything wrong with that when it comes to writing about perhaps the most famous Jewish athlete) — recently about his book. As Rosengren put it:

I found it a fascinating story on several levels. One, yes, Greenberg was immensely important to the Jewish people. At the same time, he was immensely important to the non-Jewish people…because, as Rabbi [Michael] Paley says in my book, “He changed the way gentiles viewed Jews and, in turn, the way Jews viewed themselves.” But for someone like me, who comes at it from the outside, I learned about this person who faced adversity, rose above it, and, in doing so, brought hope to not just Jews, but to many people. To me, it’s a story of dignity and inspiration that transcends any ethnic affiliation….”

Read more at: http://bit.ly/100grZi

 

INTERVIEWS

From Think Piece Publishing, Adam Wahlberg:

TP: Hank Greenberg was a pretty famous baseball figure in the history books already. Why did you think a new biography should be written about him?

JR: There really wasn’t all that much on him. There’s Hank’s autobiography that Ira Berkow lovingly crafted into a book called The Story of My Life after Greenberg died, which had 600 pages of manuscript transcribed from tape recordings that Greenberg had made the last summer of his life. The result of Berkow’s book is a chopped-up narrative and it’s riddled with mistakes. I thought there just wasn’t a real good biography of Greenberg out there.

Ready More at: http://bit.ly/XKsUCK

From the Detroit Free Press

Only available in paid archive: http://on.freep.com/YnmEy3

From MinnPost.com:

MP: It’s a great, if surprisingly little-known, story: America’s first Jewish sports star.

JR: The fact that he was Jewish was foremost, because he became this beacon of hope to Jews during a time of intense turmoil and anti-Semitism. Hitler was doing his thing in Europe, but there was also huge anti-Semitism here at home, where Jews were barred from housing complexes; there were signs at beaches ‘No Dogs No Jews’; hotels wouldn’t put ‘em up, universities wouldn’t let them in, businesses wouldn’t hire ‘em, etc. 

At the same time, there were stereotypes about Jews being weak and un-athletic. And along comes this 6-4, 220-pound guy at a time when the average major league baseball player was 5-11. You know, you see this photo of Greenberg and [Lou] Gehrig, and Greenberg towers over Gehrig; he shattered those stereotypes by slugging home runs, and just as Italian-Americans rallied around Joe DiMaggio, Jewish-Americans rallied around Hang Greenberg.

Full interview found at: http://bit.ly/WYLPuO

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AUTHOR Q & A

Why did you choose to write about Hank Greenberg? 
I did an article for the Baseball Hall of Fame's magazine Memories & Dreams about Greenberg's dramatic comeback in 1945, when he was the first star to return from military service and all eyes were on him to see if players could do it.  While researching that article, I realized there was a lot more to Greenberg's story and that there had not been a biography written about him.  So I set out to tell what I thought was a significant story, not just about a baseball player but about a man who became a hero to his generation.

Was he an inspiration to Jews the way Jackie Robinson was for African Americans?

Greenberg stood 6'4" and weighed 220 pounds.  While that might not be considered big by today's standards, it was huge in the '30s when the average ballplayer was only 5'11".  He towered over contemporaries like Lou Gehrig.  Being big and a home run hitter, Greenberg shattered the prevalent stereotype that Jews were weak and unathletic.  At a time when Jews were being persecuted abroad and at home, he became a symbol of hope.  " When you’re running around the jungle of the ghetto on the Lower East Side, you couldn’t help but be exhilarated by the sight of one of our guys looking like a Colossus,” Matthau said. “He eliminated for me all those jokes which start out: ‘Did you hear the one about the little Jewish gentleman?’”    

As an aside, Greenberg was also instrumental in supporting Robinson during a critical time of his rookie year.  In May, the Dodgers came to Pittsburgh, where Greenberg played his final season in 1947.  Robinson had just gone public about the death threats he had received, then had Phillies players point bats like rifles at him.  Greenberg and Robinson had a collision at first base that could have sparked a race riot, but instead Greenberg asked Jackie if he was okay and gave him some words of encouragement.  Afterward Robinson said, "Class tells.  It sticks out all over Mr. Greenberg."
 

What did you find rewarding - -and challenging -- about writing your book? 
The biggest challenge was when I realized that the Yale Press had scheduled a biography of Greenberg for publication prior to mine.  That pushed me to work harder on mine so it was better.  I plumbed resources previously unexplored like county court divorce records, Greenberg's military file and MLB daily batting logs to unearth new information.  The reward was finding details that allowed me to shed new light on his story and/or to clear up misconceptions that had been previously published.  His own son was surprised by one fact I unearthed about the widely told anecdote that the Detroit Free Press published a headline that said Happy New Year in Hebrew.  I was able to set the record straight that the headline appeared on the first day of Rosh Hashanah, not after Greenberg hit two home runs that day as he used to tell people.
 

Baseball has changed immensely from when Hank played the game, but what still remains the same about the game? 
The game remains a treasure trove of history and lore passed from one generation to the next, but when Greenberg played it was truly the national pastime.  The NFL and NBA did not exist.  Baseball was the breeding ground for heroes and it alone held center stage in the media.  On that stage, Greenberg became the most popular athlete of his generation in the spring 1941--more popular than Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams or Bob Feller--when he was the reigning AL MVP and drafted into the Army.
 

Why do so many readers enjoy a good biography, even about historical figures that have had books written about them previously? 
I think we enjoy biographies because we're drawn to the stories of others who can inspire us.  They let us realize our possibilities as humans, what good--and, in some cases, evil--we're capable of.  Greenberg does not disappoint in this regard. He teaches us about courage, integrity and dignity. --interview from Brian Feinblum's BookMarketingBuzzBlog, February 5, 2013

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ON THE AIR

Interview with Aviva Kempner on “The D.C. Sports Beat with Mitch Malasky”: http://bit.ly/Xv2JkN

March 4 • 8:00 a.m. EST

MICHIGAN INSIDER
SPORTS TALK
1050 WTKA
Ann Arbor, MI

March 6 • 10:35 a.m. EST

ROUND TABLE
NATIONAL PRODUCTIONS
90.3 FM, WAMC
Albany NY 

March 7 • 9:40 a.m. CST

JIM ENGSTER SHOW
LOUISIANA RADIO NETWORK
89.3 WRKF
Baton Rouge, LA

March 7 • 1:00 p.m. CST

CULTURE SHOCK WITH BARRY LYNN
XM RADIO
NATIONAL BROADCAST

March 9 • 1:20 p.m. EST

SECOND SATURDAY MAGAZINE
INDEPENDENT PUBLIC RADIO
WPKM 89.5 FM
Bridgeport, CT & Montauk, NY

March 14 • 8:25 a.m. CST

MORNING EDITION
WOJB 88.9 FM
Hayward, WI

March 15 • 11:00 a.m. EST

TALK OF THE TOWN
1320 WATR RADIO
Waterbury, CT

March 18 • 10:00 p.m. PST

TURNING PAGES
KCBX PUBLIC RADIO 90 FM
PUBLIC EXCHANGE RADIO
San Luis Obispo, CA

March 21 • 12:00 p.m. EST

THE JORDAN RICH SHOW
WBZ RADIO 1030 AM
Boston, MA

March 24 • 10:00 a.m. CST

THE KATHLEEN DUNN SHOW
WISCONSIN PUBLIC RADIO, NPR

May 6 

CURRENT STATE WITH PETER WHORF
MICHIGAN PUBLIC RADIO, NPR
Ann Arbor, MI
Listen to the interview http://bit.ly/16VOeMd

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