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An Early and Unique Hank Greenberg Autograph

Although he missed time due to injuries, military service (1942-1945) and an early retirement (1947), Hank Greenberg still ranks as one of the most fearsome sluggers in baseball history (331 home runs, a 1276 rbi). The powerful right-hander played the equivalent of only nine and a half seasons, yet produced outstanding career totals as well as exceptional season marks. In addition, Greenburg, along with Sandy Koufax, is considered to be one of the two greatest Jewish players in baseball history.

Greenburg had been scouted while at James Monroe High School in the Bronx by the Yankees, who decided to pass as they already had Lou Gehrig on first base, and John McGraw of the New York Giants, who was on the lookout for Jewish players given the large Jewish fan base in New York. McGraw ended up passing on Greenburg as he thought Greenburg was too uncoordinated. In the end, Greenburg signed with the Detroit Tigers and went on to have a stellar career.

This yearbook is from Greenburg’s junior year at James Monroe High School (1927). The yearbook only contains pictures of seniors, but also contains an “autograph” page on which Greenburg signed his name. Interestingly, he signed his Hebrew name, “Hyman B. Greenberg.” This autograph is the earliest known Hank Greenberg autograph and, perhaps, the only known autograph to feature his Hebrew name.

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Harry “The Horse” Danning was one of the best Jewish players of all-time. Watch my short film based on his personal recollections, called The Last Giant.