The Story of My Life
by Hank Greenberg
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GREENBERG: We were playing in Washington one time in 1935 and I was invited to FBI headquarters with [Mickey] Cochrane, [Charlie] Gehringer, and [Goose] Goslin. It was a thrill to go there and meet J. Edgar Hoover. It was during the early stages of the FBI, and Hoover was a great hero. He was then playing a very romantic role in American history. We spent the afternoon visiting Hoover’s office. He took us down to the shooting range and all the papers published a picture of the five of us shooting. I later knew Hoover very well because he used to come to New York, and my good friend Louis Marx [the highly successful toy manufacturer] was a pal of his. We used to sit in the Club Room night after night, just talking. [In later years, Greenberg was invited to the White House to meet two presidents, Harry Truman and Richard Nixon.]
We won the pennant again, coming in three games ahead of the second-place Yankees. The Cubs had won the National League pennant with a twenty-one-game winning streak in September, sweeping past the Cardinals. It was considered the most spectacular unbroken winning streak to capture a pennant that had been recorded through the closing weeks of a Major League race.
Now we began the World Series of 1935 against the Chicago Cubs, and it was pretty evenly matched. They had a lot of old veterans and a solid pitching staff, with guys like Lon Warneke, Guy Bush, and Larry French. Pat Malone was still pitching for them, and so was Charlie Root. We were rolling high; we had won two pennants in a row, and I was really looking forward to this World Series.
BERKOW: In a World Series preview that appeared in the New York Evening Post, Stanley Frank wrote that Greenberg “can be out-foxed, since he’s always trying to outguess the pitcher. Can be made to pop up on a good fastball inside or on a high curve with a lot of stuff on it. . . . Not too sure on low throws at first or on fast grounders which skid close to the dirt.”
But in an Associated Press story the emphasis was somewhat different: “. . . Greenberg’s slugging has overshadowed the fact he also has developed into one of the best defensive first basemen in the game.
“The big Jewish boy, with a mark of .993 for the season, has a remarkable defensive record. . . .”
“[Greenberg] admitted he’s nervous,” said a United Press dispatch, which went on to describe Greenberg as “the most honest -- and the only honest -- ballplayer in the world.”
For the opening game in Detroit the weather, noted a writer in the Chicago Daily News, couldn’t have been more perfect. . . . [Commissioner Kenesaw] Landis must have ordered [it] himself. That rain that was here yesterday was gone, and it was clear and sunny. The frost which blanketed the park at dawn had dissipated in the face of a warm autumn sun. . . .
“Outside the park the scalpers did a brisk business. They were asking (and getting) $25 for a $6.60 ticket.”
The largest crowd ever to witness a ball game in Detroit, 47,391, was on hand for the game.
Greenberg put on a show in batting practice as "the entire Cub cast stopped their warmup drill to watch Greenberg at the plate. Hank obliged by driving the next pitch into the stands, his fifth of the practice."
From Hank Greenberg: The Story of My Life by Hank Greenberg with Ira Berkow.
Copyright © 1989, 2001 by the Estate of Henry Greenberg. Excerpted with permission.