When Hank ‘met’ Jackie

Posted on: December 7th, 2016 by Ron Kaplan

I just finished the first round of edits on the manuscript for my forthcoming book, Hank Greenberg in 1938: Hatred and Home Runs in the Shadow of War (scheduled for release April 4, 2017. Just sayin’.)

The last chapter deals with Greenberg’s final playing season as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1947. There’s a famous incident in which he had occasion to converse with Jackie Robinson, who broke baseball’s color line that year. The two of the collided at first base in a May 15 game. Greenberg helped Robinson to his feet and gave him some words of encouragement, for which the Brooklyn rookie was most grateful.

“Class tells. It sticks out all over Mr. Greenberg,” Robinson told the pres after the game.

That made me think of this:

In the movie 42, about Robinson’s first season, the first black player was hit in the head by a pitch from Fritz Ostermueller. That game took place on May 17 against the Pirates in Pittsburgh.

Well, Greenberg was in the lineup for the Pirates that day. In fact, he hit a two-run homer to give his team the only runs they would need in a 4-0 win over Brooklyn. The Pirates had only four hits and Greenberg had two of them.

Too bad they didn’t include the Robinson-Greenberg conversation in the movie.




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