Greenberg, Hank 1925–
Chairman and chief executive officer, American International Group
Family: Son of Jacob Greenberg and Ada Rheingold; married Corinne Phyllis Zuckerman; children: four.
Career: Continental Casualty Company, 1952–1960, employee, then vice president; American International Group, 1960–1962, founder of overseas health and accident business; 1962–1967, president of American Home Assurance Company; 1967–1989, CEO and president; 1989–, chairman and CEO.
Awards: Insurance Leader of the Year, College of Insurance, 1998, 1999; six honorary degrees.
Address: American International Group, 70 Pine Street, New York, New York 10270; http://www.aig.com.
■ Maurice R. Greenberg, well known as "Hank," reached legendary status in the business world as the long-time chairman and CEO of American International Group (AIG), a holding company engaged in a broad range of insurance and insurance-related activities and the largest underwriter of commercial and industrial insurance in the United States. Under Greenberg's innovative leadership AIG underwent exceptional growth and was transformed into a leading global insurance organization. Employing a risk-taking strategy combined with product innovation and expansion into such areas as financial services, Greenberg became a legend whose business moves were watched closely not only by others in the insurance business but by business leaders throughout the country and around the world. Industry analysts and colleagues noted that Greenberg was a dynamic, hard-driving, intimidating leader who was committed to improving the bottom line and instilling an entrepreneurial spirit throughout AIG.
FROM FARM BOY TO CEO
Greenberg was born in New York City but grew up on a New York dairy farm in the hamlet of Swan Lake. He lied about his age to join the U.S. Army during World War II, became an Army Ranger, and stormed the beach at Normandy. After the war he attended the University of Miami, where he majored in prelaw, and then New York Law School, where he earned his LLB in 1950. He was just embarking on a career in law when the Korean War broke out; he soon found himself back in the service stationed in South Korea, eventually rising to the rank of captain and receiving a Bronze Star, an award given for heroic or meritorious service.
Greenberg entered the insurance business three days after returning from Korea in 1952, when he knocked on the door of the Continental Casualty Company. Greenberg was initially rebuffed in his search for a job there but was hired after he reportedly criticized the boss of the man who had initially refused to employ him. He quickly rose through the ranks to become the youngest person to be appointed vice president at the company.
In 1960 Greenberg joined AIG; he was appointed president of its major subsidiary American Home Assurance Company in 1962. In that position Greenberg was credited with developing substantial reinsurance facilities, which allowed insurers who were forced to take unwanted assignments, or "bad risks," the opportunity to reinsure those risks. Losses incurred by the bad risks were thus absorbed by the facility. Greenberg's strategy enabled American Home to write large quantities of major-risks policies and thus control the pricing of those policies. Greenberg was lauded for his notable contribution to the advancement of the risk-management movement in the 1960s, when other insurers and brokers opposed its advancement. He also introduced personal-accident insurance through American Home. He established a bottom-line philosophy of insisting on underwriting only those companies that made profits, installing a management team that could accomplish that goal.
Greenberg's strategies for building American Home were successful, and the company's reputation for being aggressive and profitable grew. Greenberg soon moved to acquire other domestic companies, including New Hampshire Insurance Company and the National Union Fire Insurance Company. Greenberg established a strategy of identifying companies that were troubled or fighting off takeovers, buying controlling interests in the companies, and ultimately integrating them into the AIG corporate structure. When AIG's founder and CEO Cornelius van der Starr died, Green was named to head the company. Two years later AIG went public with Greenberg as the CEO.
PERIOD OF EXCEPTIONAL GROWTH
In response to the changing needs of corporate America, Greenberg led AIG to be among the first companies to establish risk-management services for large companies. In 1979 and 1980 AIG became the first Western insurance organization to establish joint ventures with foreign countries, including Hungary, Poland, Romania, and China. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s Greenberg also organized or acquired various specialized entities focusing on such areas as aviation insurance, vocational and rehabilitation services, mortgage-guaranty insurance, and managed health care.
By the mid-1980s Greenberg had made AIG one of the most respected companies in the insurance business, largely by selling insurance for risks other insurers would not address. When devastating floods occurred in portions of Pennsylvania in the early 1980s, other insurers started canceling their flood insurance. Greenberg, however, directed AIG to write new policies at a profitable rate. Greenberg also continued his knack for innovation. When soaring premiums led corporations to create their own offshore captive insurance companies—which insured the risks of the parent corporations—Greenberg stepped in to establish AIG as a premier provider of services to those offshore captives; other insurers merely tried to block the trend. In 1984 Lynn Brenner, writing in American Banker, noted, "In the past 10 years, the company has consistently grown faster and more profitably than its industry" (August 24, 1984).
Greenberg's success continued, as AIG had 1985 revenues of $5.8 billion. He had led AIG to consistently outperform competitors through what many were viewing as the industry's dark years. Analysts noted that Greenberg's successes stemmed from his start as an insurance underwriter who conscientiously priced policies to be both profitable and salable. Greenberg's philosophy was that the entire insurance industry needed to "return to basics." As quoted by James Ring Adams in Forbes, Greenberg noted that succeeding in insurance "means proper pricing and recognizing that you're in a risk business, not selling potatoes" (December 29, 1986).
A NEW BUSINESS
In 1987 Greenberg decided to diversify AIG by expanding the company from commercial insurance into financial services, creating AIG Financial Products. Despite Greenberg's successful track record, proving that the business would work took time, and many shareholders booed Greenberg in a 1990 meeting at which the diversification gamble was discussed. Analysts as well questioned Greenberg's move, noting that most investors owned AIG stock purely for its renown in the insurance business and that the financial market typically went through violent earnings swings. In response to the many questions about AIG management's decisions, Greenberg, as quoted by Caren Chesler-Marsh in Euromoney, explained the strategy this way: "We've been very focused in what we want to do. We're not going into every area of financial services. We've chosen the areas where we think we can have the best leverage and the best results" (February 1991).
Although AIG's stock fell 7 percent in 1990, it began to rebound in 1991; Greenberg had once again proven himself to be on target. AIG Financial Products had an operating income of $127 million and became a major force in swaps and derivatives. The move turned out to be extremely profitable for the company and its shareholders. Financial industry analysts once again placed the kudos squarely on Greenberg's shoulders, noting that he had been the first to appreciate the value of a triple-A balance sheet in the swap market and that he had successfully forged joint ventures with some of the elite swap technicians.
By 1993 Greenberg's management approach had propelled AIG to the top of the business world; the company made a 13.1 percent return on equity, with profit growth from $17 million to $1.7 billion after he took over the company. Others in the insurance and financial markets tried to imitate Greenberg's approach, but none could match his performance. Although he was nearing 70, Greenberg had no plans to retire and was guiding AIG's advances into foreign markets. Once again he was having success in countries like Russia where other American companies were having difficulty competing. As reported in Chief Executive, Greenberg noted that the company's success was due to extensive forethought, stating, "It's taken us years to plan an entry into some countries. But many American companies don't take that approach. There's no quick fix in international business" (June 1993).
INTO THE 21ST CENTURY
Greenberg and AIG strode into the new millennium on an upbeat note, with the company's net income rising 11.5 percent to a record $5.64 billion in 2000. By the end of the year revenues had gained 13.1 percent, assets had risen 14.3 percent, and shareholders' equity had reached $39.62 billion, compared to the $33.3 billion of 1999. When the economy took a downturn, Greenberg acted quickly, waiving a year-end bonus of $5 million for himself and freezing pay for all employees in 2001. The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, created additional levels of uncertainty for the insurance group; furthermore, investors became cautious because of the collapse of giant corporations such as Enron and concerns about conflicts of interest, unsavory accounting practices, offshore registration of corporate vehicles, and high share valuations.
By early 2002 AIG's share price had fallen 30 percent. Nevertheless, analysts did not recommend AIG as a "sell." Industry watchers believed that part of the analysts' decisions was based on the extreme clout held by Greenberg, who had been known in the past to exert his power to the detriment of those who opposed him or his company. According to some, analysts feared that even the mildest criticism of AIG would prompt Greenberg to disparage the firm responsible and remove it from AIG's vast information network. When Shearson Lehman published a critical report on one of AIG's subsidiaries in 1990, Greenberg spoke out loudly against the report; Shearson Lehman eventually issued a subsequent report essentially summarizing Greenberg's views.
Greenberg and AIG were questioned about their practice of registering more than 50 AIG entities in Bermuda, which many saw as an attempt to avoid the ramifications of American securities-law disclosures and create an ownership structure that was, in many ways, immune to U.S. business laws and taxation. AIG's routine public filings were considered virtually impenetrable even to expert outsiders. As a result, few could determine with absolute certainty what businesses AIG retained and what it ceded. Some analysts saw AIG's fall in share price as stemming from these creatively inscrutable accounting and financial-engineering practices.
In spite of these concerns, many maintained a strong belief in the virtuousness of Greenberg's leadership of AIG, noting that he swiftly responded to rumors of his own demise when he fell ill for a brief period. Greenberg also promised to discuss profits and details about insurance operations via quarterly conference calls between himself, analysts, and investors; in fact, changes in the securities industry forced Greenberg to open his conference calls and presentations to all stockholders and industry analysts who wanted to listen. Some analysts felt that such openness eliminated much of the mystique that had surrounded Greenberg and AIG. Greenberg told Aaron Elstein of Crain's New York Business, "First I get criticized for not being accessible enough, and now I get criticized for being too available. It's like getting sued for infidelity and impotence at the same time" (September 8, 2003).
The outlook for AIG remained strong as Greenberg continued to apply his formidable knowledge and implement well-construed strategies with positive effects. He helped AIG overcome the massive losses that had resulted from the 2001 World Trade Center attacks. For the first nine months of 2002 AIG reported a 61 percent gain in net income, to $5.6 billion. Greenberg kept AIG on track the following year as well, with the company's profits rising a record 68 percent to $9.3 billion in 2003.
Although Greenberg was nearing 80, he maintained a strong interest in AIG and the insurance business in general. In 2003 he set out on a crusade to establish tort reforms. He wasn't getting any mellower either; according to Michael Ha in National Underwriter Property & Casualty/Risk & Benefits Management, Greenberg went as far as to call lawyers who opposed the reforms "terrorists" (March 8, 2004).
MANAGEMENT STYLE: BOLD AND BRILLIANT
Business analysts and colleagues alike noted that throughout his career Greenberg combined a disarming charm with a hard-driving and intimidating demeanor that often terrified colleagues, competitors, and even market analysts. Passionate in his approach to building AIG, he was known for a hands-on style that reached out to every area of the company. When AIG's new commodities unit was formed, Greenberg attended every meeting in which the deal to launch the operation was negotiated. When employees were recruited for the unit, Greenberg, in his usual thoroughness, personally ensured that each candidate was completely checked out. Robert Rubin, who became executive vice president and director of the unit in 1991, told Chesler-Marsh of Euromoney, "At AIG, we were cleaned and screened and pressed and pulled and tugged. They lifted up our teeth, called everyone I knew of any consequence, and asked for lists of references, and they called everyone on the list" (February 1991).
Although Greenberg garnered little praise for being a "good guy," early on he won respect for being one of the most accomplished business thinkers in the world. Many noted that he had a "heavy-hitter" approach to fighting off threats to his business empire. In the early 1990s the consumer-advocacy group Public Citizen issued a negative report saying that AIG was vulnerable to a downturn in the economy; Greenberg threatened to take legal action unless the group retracted its statement. Yet Greenberg conducted business within AIG on a relatively informal basis—an anomalous approach in the highly bureaucratic insurance business. Brenner of American Banker quoted him as saying that the trick was to maintain "a nonchaotic environment without becoming too bureaucratic as you get bigger" (August 24, 1984).
Greenberg was known to support spontaneity in his management team, the members of which always felt that they could get the boss's attention with a good idea. As reported on BusinessWeek Online, Greenberg once commented, "When new ideas come in, they don't find a deaf ear" (January 14, 2002). Nevertheless, Greenberg's dominant personality was at times overbearing and for some employees made AIG a nerve-wracking place in which to work. Greenberg often publicly criticized the company's senior management team; his abrasive personality was legendary within insurance circles and beyond.
Observers noted that AIG's entire corporate style reflected Greenberg's approach to business. He was nicknamed "Hammerin' Hank," after the one-time Detroit Tigers baseball star Hank Greenberg. His aggressive spirit so pervaded the company that workers once pasted his and other senior staff members' pictures over the faces in a cartoon ad for AIG featuring the comic-book tough guy Sergeant Fury and other hardened Marines storming a beach with machine guns firing.
In terms of his overall management philosophy, Greenberg aimed to wring out the company's cost inefficiencies while gauging risks with pinpoint precision. On the insurance side, he unswervingly refused to underwrite any business that he didn't think would turn a profit. To some observers Greenberg's personality and business approach were summed up perfectly by Greenberg himself when he told Chesler-Marsh in Euromoney, "The strategy of AIG is not developed on a consensus basis" (February 1991).
IMPACT BEYOND INDUSTRY
As Greenberg reached his late 70s, rumors grew about his potential health problems and efforts to ultimately choose a successor. Greenberg, who would grow annoyed when asked about retirement plans, often joked that the company was developing a clone to succeed him. Most analysts and company stockholders dreaded the day that Greenberg would step down. One contributor to National Underwriter Property & Casualty/Risk & Benefits Management noted that for more than three decades Greenberg had delivered solid returns for shareholders, "who see him as their security blanket" (March 4, 2002).
Greenberg had a wide-ranging influence that also reached into the world of government and politics. As noted by William F. Jasper in New American, few corporate leaders could "match Greenberg's political clout and connections" (October 8, 2001). Greenberg was a longtime influence on the Business Roundtable and the President's Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations. He was a member of the board of directors of the New York Stock Exchange and the Trilateral Commission and a director of the United Nations Association. He served as the chairman, deputy chairman, and director of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York; on President Bill Clinton's Advisory Committee for the President's Commission on Critical Infrastructure Protection; and as vice chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations. Greenberg was chairman of the U.S.-China Business Council, the U.S.-ASEAN Council on Business and Technology, and the Starr Foundation. He was the founding chairman of the U.S.-Philippine Business Committee, trustee and chairman emeritus of the Asia Society, and a member of the Board of Governors of the Society of the New York Hospital. He was also involved in several other charitable and civic organizations.
See also entry on American International Group, Inc. in International Directory of Company Histories.
sources for further information
Adams, James Ring, "Insurance Follies," Forbes, December 29, 1986, p. 107.
Brenner, Lynn, "Stirring Staff to Grab a Risk," American Banker, August 24, 1984, p. 16.
Chesler-Marsh, Caren, "The Greenberg Enigma," Euromoney, February 1991, p. 26.
"Does AIG Need to Reveal a CEO Succession Plan?" National Underwriter Property & Casualty/Risk & Benefits Management, March 4, 2002, p. 32.
Elstein, Aaron, "World's Largest Insurer a Low-Risk Investment," Crain's New York Business, September 8, 2003, p. 47.
Ha, Michael, "Trial Lawyers Deplore Greenberg's 'Terrorist' Label," National Underwriter Property & Casualty/Risk & Benefits Management, March 8, 2004, p. 10.
Jasper, William F., "China's Man in America," New American, October 8, 2001, p. 29.
"Risky Business," Chief Executive, June 1993, p. 34.
"The Top 25 Managers of the Year: Maurice R. Greenberg," BusinessWeek Online, January 14, 2002, http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/02_02/b3765033.htm.
"Greenberg, Hank 1925–." International Directory of Business Biographies. . Encyclopedia.com. (March 17, 2019). https://www.encyclopedia.com/economics/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/greenberg-hank-1925
"Greenberg, Hank 1925–." International Directory of Business Biographies. . Retrieved March 17, 2019 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/economics/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/greenberg-hank-1925
Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).
Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.
Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:
Modern Language Association
The Chicago Manual of Style
American Psychological Association
- Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
- In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.
American baseball player
The American baseball star Hank Greenberg, celebrated in the 1930s and 1940s for his powerful batting and multiple homeruns, was baseball's first legendary Jewish player. With the Detroit Tigers from 1933 to 1947, and with the Pittsburgh Pirates for the last year of his playing career, Greenberg led the American League four times in home runs. The peak year for the Depression Era player was 1938, when he hit fifty-eight home runs—only two fewer than record-breaking slugger Babe Ruth . The 6-foot-4, 215-pound player held a career batting average of .313, and won his league's Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award in 1935 and 1940. While he encountered anti-Semitism throughout his career, Greenberg won over many fans and was particularly beloved among Jewish baseball aficionados.
Preferred Baseball to Schoolwork
Born on January 1, 1911, in New York City's Greenwich Village neighborhood, Greenberg was one of four children of Romanian immigrants David and Sarah Greenberg. His father owned a successful cloth-shrinking plant; his homemaker mother kept a kosher house. When their son was six, the family moved to a Jewish neighborhood in the Bronx; here young Greenberg attended Hebrew school. Hoping their son would pursue a higher education and a professional vocation in medicine or law, Greenberg's parents disapproved of the boy's early passion for baseball, and his preference for sports over academics.
"Jewish women on my block … would point me out as a good-for-nothing, a loafer, and a bum who always wanted to play baseball rather than go to school," Greenberg recalled to the Detroit Jewish Chronicle, as quoted by Laurie Marzejka of the Detroit News Online. "Friends and relatives sympathized with my mother because she was the parent of a big gawk who cared more for baseball … than school books. I was Mrs. Greenberg's disgrace."
A top athlete at James Monroe High School in the Bronx, Greenberg played both baseball and basketball. Bigger and stronger than his peers, he had a natural advantage over other athletes his age, yet he had to work
hard to gain the grace and skill that athletics demanded. "Hank was so big for his age and so awkward that he became painfully self-conscious," his high school coach remembered. "The fear of being made to look foolish drove him to practice constantly and, as a result, to overcome his handicaps."
Fresh out of high school, Greenberg impressed the major-league baseball coaches with his talent and potential. Signing with a major-league team meant that Greenberg would not advance directly to the majors, but would play in the minor leagues first until he was ready. The New York Giants were looking for a Jewish player to attract fans from New York's large Jewish population, yet they passed over Greenberg, fearing that he was too clumsy to become a star player. Willing to take a chance on Greenberg, the New York Yankees made him a lucrative offer; but Greenberg, a first-baseman, turned it down, because the Yankees already had star player Lou Gehrig on first base. Similarly, Greenberg turned down an offer from the Washington Senators, who boasted Joe Judge on first.
Ultimately, 19-year-old Greenberg signed with the Detroit Tigers, who offered a contract that allowed him to attend New York University on an athletic scholarship. Yet after attending college for only one year, Greenberg dropped out to pursue baseball exclusively. He played one game with the Tigers in 1930, and then spent the next three years in the minor-league "farm system." Here the young player worked to overcome any lingering awkwardness, and to hone his skills as a batter and fielder.
First Jewish Baseball Star
Called back to the major leagues, Greenberg became a starter and first-baseman with the Tigers in June of 1933. The rookie made his debut with thirty-three doubles, twelve home runs, and a .301 batting average in his first season. The following year found him playing a stronger game, with sixty-three doubles (the most in his league), twenty-six home runs, 139 RBI (runs batted in), and an impressive .339 average. That year, "Hammerin Hank," as he became known, helped lift the Tigers to their American League pennant win. The team lost the World Series to the "Gashouse Gang" St. Louis Cardinals, however, with Greenberg hitting .321, but striking out nine times.
Greenberg impressed fans and fellow players not only with his solid performance in 1934, but also with his decision not to play baseball on the Jewish high holiday of Yom Kippur. Sports writers took note of his integrity, including Bud Shaver of the Detroit Times: "[Greenberg's] fine intelligence, independence of thought, courage and his driving ambition have won him the respect and admiration of teammates, baseball writers, and the fans at large. He feels and acknowledges his responsibility as a representative of the Jews in the field of a great national sport and the Jewish people could have no finer representative."
|1911||Born January 1 in New York, NY|
|1929||Signs with the Detroit Tigers; attends New York University one year|
|1930||Plays one game with the Tigers|
|1930-33||Plays in the minor leagues|
|1933||Becomes a starter with the Tigers|
|1934||Leads the American League with 63 doubles|
|1935||Leads the American League with 36 home runs and 170 RBI|
|1935, 1940||Wins American League's Most Valuable Player award|
|1937||Hits 58 home runs for a career record|
|1941||Enlists as an officer candidate in the Army Air Corps|
|1945||Returns to baseball, hitting a pennant-winning home run for the Tigers|
|1946||Marries department store heiress Carol Gimbel|
|1946||Becomes highest-paid baseball player of his day, with a $100,000 contract from the Pittsburgh Pirates|
|1947||Retires from baseball; becomes a baseball executive|
|1950||Becomes general manager of the Cleveland Indians|
|1956||Inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame|
|1986||Dies of cancer at age 75|
Yet the budding baseball star often faced bigotry in the predominantly Gentile world of baseball. While it was rampant in pre-World War II Germany, anti-Semitism was not uncommon in the United States in the 1930s. Greenberg was often heckled by baseball spectators and by opposing players—some of whom joked that pitchers should try throwing a pork chop at him to strike him out. Throughout these trials, Greenberg maintained his dignity, and became more beloved among his fans for his fortitude and perseverance.
Helping the Tigers take a consecutive American League pennant in 1935, Greenberg led the league with thirty-six home runs and 170 RBI. A broken wrist kept him on the sidelines after the second game of the World Series, but the Tigers prevailed nonetheless. He wrapped up the year winning the league's Most Valuable Player Award. But after a strong start to the 1936 season, he broke his barely healed wrist once again, and sat out the remainder of the season. Fans worried that his career might be over, but Greenberg proved them wrong the following year, when he performed better than ever.
Hitting forty home runs and batting .337 in 1937, Greenberg netted 183 RBI, the third-highest total on record, one short of Gehrig's American League record. The following year, at the peak of his career, Greenberg took a shot at breaking Ruth's record-setting sixty home runs—only to fall two homers short. Many fans believed his rivals deliberately foiled Greenberg by walking him instead of letting him hit the ball—and some even cited this plot as anti-Semitic. Greenberg himself, fully aware of the bigotry that surrounded him, never believed this particular myth.
Slipping a little after his banner year, Greenberg hit thirty-three home runs and 112 RBI in 1939. The following year he relinquished his seven-year position at first base, switching places with outfielder Rudy York. The move proved successful, as Greenberg quickly mastered the new position, helping the Tigers take the American League pennant from the Yankees. Earning his second Most Valuable Player Award, he ended the 1940 season with league-leading fifty doubles, forty-one home runs, 150 RBI, and a.340 average.
In a hiatus from baseball, just before American involvement in World War II, Greenberg became the first baseball player to enlist in the U.S. Army. He was discharged two days before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, after which he re-enlisted as an officer candidate in the Army Air Corps. Rising to captain in the corps, he commanded a B-29 bomber squadron in the Far East until his discharge in 1945. Returning home a war hero, Greenberg, who had missed four seasons, hit a home run in his first game, thrilling fans. The Tigers went on to win another pennant, with Greenberg hitting a winning home run in the last game's final inning. He later said he believed the 1945 season was his greatest—despite his stronger 1938 record.
In the wake of disagreements with the Tigers' owners, Greenberg was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1946. Pleased to have Greenberg, the National League team offered the star a contract worth more than any other baseball player had ever received: $100,000. Three days after signing his contract, he married department store heiress Carol Gimbel, with whom he would have two sons and a daughter. Greenberg and Gimbel divorced in 1959.
Yet the baseball star had passed the peak of his career. Bothered by injuries, Greenberg played only one season with the Pirates, slipping to an average of .249 and hitting only twenty-five home runs. He retired in 1947.
|DET: Detroit Tigers; PIT: Pittsburgh Pirates.|
Turning to the business end of the sport, Greenberg became vice president and farm director for the Cleveland Indians; in 1950 he became the Indians' general manager. He later moved to the Chicago White Sox, as part owner and vice president. On July 23, 1956, he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, in Cooperstown, New York. He retired from the baseball business seven years later, becoming an investment banker. After retiring, Greenberg took up a new sport—tennis—becoming a regular player on the senior circuit, where he won several celebrity tournaments.
When Greenberg died of cancer in 1986, at age 75, baseball fans around the country remembered a player of remarkable power, dignity, and humbleness. As the first Jewish baseball superstar, he had achieved folk hero status among Jewish youth and immigrants in his day. Of more lasting import, Greenberg helped to break the barrier of religion in America's most popular sport.
Awards and Accomplishments
|1935, 1937, 1940, 1946||American League leader in RBI|
|1935, 1938, 1940, 1946||American League leader in home runs|
|1935, 1940||Most Valuable Player Award, American League|
|1937||Hits 58 home runs for a career record|
|1937-40||American League All-Star team|
|1956||Elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame|
Hank Greenberg: The Story of My Life
Every day I'd play ball in Corona Park, across the street from our house in the Bronx. Anytime there was less than a foot of snow, I was playing baseball. The neighbors shook their heads and warned my mother.
Baseball wasn't looked upon as a business, and most of the guys in the game were pretty rowdy. So my parents didn't think much of me pursuing it. They thought I ought to be studying instead of playing baseball. I grew up with typical Jewish parents whose objective was to send their children to college to become doctors or lawyers. As a matter of fact, my two brothers and my sister all graduated from college and went into professional work. But I loved baseball and stuck with it.
In my early days, I was completely engrossed by baseball. On weekdays after school, I'd rush to the park with my glove, bat, and ball, and come home only after it got dark. Weekends were completely devoted to the old field. And instead of coming home for lunch, I'd fill my pockets with fruit and candy and stay down at the ballpark all day. We were just in love with playing baseball and the days weren't long enough.
Source: Greenberg, Hank, with Ira Berkow. Hank Greenberg: The Story of My Life. Chicago: Triumph Books, 2001.
SELECTED WRITINGS BY GREENBERG:
(With Ira Berkow) Hank Greenberg: The Story of My Life, Triumph Books, 2001.
Greenberg, Hank, with Ira Berkow. Hank Greenberg: The Story of My Life. Chicago: Triumph Books, 2001
Bates, James. "For Determined Filmmaker, Tale of Jewish Baseball Hero Became a Quest." Los Angeles Times (May 18, 2000).
"Hank Greenberg, First $100,000 Player, Dies." Los Angeles Times (September 5, 1986).
"Hank Greenberg, Top Hitter and Member of Hall of Fame." New York Times (September 5, 1986): A20.
Frommer, Harvey. "Celebrating Hank Greenberg." Baseball Library.com. http://www.pubdim.net/baseballlibrary/submit/Frommer_Harvey5.stm (October 15, 2002).
"Greenberg, 'Hank' (Henry B.)." Hickok Sports.com. http://www.hickoksports/com/biograph/greenberghank.shtml (October 15, 2002).
"Hank Greenberg." Baseball Library.com. http://www.pubdim.net/baseballlibrary/ballplayers/G/Greenberg_Hank.stm (October 15, 2002).
"Hank Greenberg." National Baseball Hall of Fame. http://www.baseballhalloffame.org/hofers_and_honorees/hofer_bios/greenberg_hank.htm (October 15, 2002).
"The Tigers' 'Hammerin' Hank' Greenberg." Detroit News Online. http://www.detnews.com/history/greenberg/greenberg.htm (October 15, 2002).
Sketch by Wendy Kagan
"Greenberg, Hank." Notable Sports Figures. . Encyclopedia.com. (March 17, 2019). https://www.encyclopedia.com/sports/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/greenberg-hank
"Greenberg, Hank." Notable Sports Figures. . Retrieved March 17, 2019 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/sports/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/greenberg-hank