On January 1, 1911, Hank Greenberg is born in New York City’s Greenwich Village to Rumanian-born Orthodox Jewish immigrants who owned a successful cloth-shrinking plant, Henry Benjamin Greenberg moved with his family to the Bronx when he was seven years old. Hampered by flat feet and a lack of coordination as a youngster, Greenberg worked diligently to overcome his physical deficiencies. After graduating from James Monroe High School in the Bronx, Hank attended New York University on an athletic scholarship for one semester before choosing to leave school to pursue a career in baseball. , Greenberg will make his major league debut at the age of 19. A slugging first baseman for the Detroit Tigers and Pittsburgh Pirates, Greenberg will enter the Hall of Fame in 1956.
Had he not spent much of his career competing against arguably the two greatest first basemen in baseball history in Lou Gehrig and Jimmie Foxx, Hank Greenberg likely would receive far more recognition for having been one of the most prolific sluggers in baseball history. Greenberg’s legacy was further diminished by the fact that he spent almost five full peak seasons serving his country during World War II. Nevertheless, despite playing the equivalent of only nine-and-a-half full seasons in the major leagues, the big first baseman hit 331 home runs, drove in 1,276 runs, won two American League Most Valuable Player Awards, and led the Detroit Tigers to four pennants and two world championships, en route to establishing himself as one of the premier sluggers the game has ever seen.