The Yogi Berra Museum, located on the campus of Montclair State University, will host a lunch program on Hank Greenberg on Friday, April 26, at noon.
Guests include John Rosengren, author of the new biography Hank Greenberg: The Hero of Heroes; Aviva Kempner, producer/director/writer of The award-winning documentary The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg, which has recently been re-released with additional material; and Steven Greenberg, son of the late Hall of Fame slugger and a former assistant to the Commissioner of Baseball.
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….”
You can hear the rest of our conversation here:
Here’s a trailer for Kempner’s excellent documentary. There are places on-line to watch the entire film for free, but for me, the real pleasure is in the behind-the-scenes material that’s only available with the DVD itself.
I was curious about the song that plays in the video, so I did a little digging into “Goodbye, Mr. Ball, Goodbye.” In this version, it was sung by Bing Crosby and Groucho Marx (!), with a guest appearance by Greenberg himself. I wish there was a clip of that.
But as an official sports nit-picker, I feel compelled to point out a mistake in the lyrics.
Greenberg “sings” the following lines: “Wait a minute, when the count is 2-0 and I let that third one go/what happens then?” Crosby and Marx reply, “You’re out.”
You’re out after taking a 2-0 pitch (baseballspeak for two balls and no strikes)??? Obviously it should be 0-2 (no balls and two strikes), but that didn’t fit the rhyme scheme. I wonder if Greenberg put up any kind of fuss about that, or he didn’t want to seem ungracious, since the tune was a tribute to him.
Tickets to the Greenberg event are $20 and include lunch. To RSVP or for more information, call 973-655-2378. See you there.