6 baseball books to launch the 2014 season

For true aficionados, here are excerpts from six must-read baseball books.

4. “Hank Greenberg: The Hero of Heroes”

By John Rosengren

New American Library

392 pages

(Slugger Hank Greenberg, who some called "The Hebrew Hammer," enjoyed a Hall of Fame career with the Detroit Tigers in the 1930s and 1940s, hitting 58 home runs in 1938, just two shy of Babe Ruth's record of 60.)

"The Detroit Jewish Chronicle’s account of Hank’s Rosh Hashanah began, 'There are 75,000 Jews in Detroit – but 74,999 were of no consequence on Rosh Hashanah. Only one Jew lad mattered to Detroit on that day – Henry "Hank" Greenberg, the lanky Tiger first baseman. It is no exaggeration to say that many Jews forgot their approach to God – because baseball ruled as king – and that as far as the non-Jewish community was concerned, Greenberg was the only Jew alive.' Despite its seeming accusation that Greenberg distracted Jews from their faith, the article lauded him. The abundant national attention focused upon his Holy Day dilemma had cast him as the singular representative of the Jews that day. On the first day of year 5695, Hank Greenberg was America’s Jew. And widely revered as such.

"While some had criticized his decision to place baseball before religion, the majority had embraced his actions. Not only did he have the blessing of the city’s chief authority on Orthodox Jewish law, Rabbi Joseph Thumim, Hank had won the respect of other second-generation Jewish-Americans in the Thirties searching for the way to balance their religious heritage with their place in the new world."

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