Rosengren: Why Hank Greenberg never became a New York Yankee

From SABR member John Rosengren at on March 31, 2016:

Hall of Fame baseball player Hank Greenberg grew up in the shadow of Yankee Stadium yet never played for his hometown Yankees. Why not?

The Yankees did in fact pursue the young prospect. Paul Krichell, the scout famous for discovering Lou Gehrig, recognized another raw talent in Greenberg and figured — as the New York Giants’ manager John McGraw had famously articulated — that a Jewish star would be a great draw for the city’s large Jewish fan base. In 1920, nearly one third of New York’s population was Jewish.

McGraw thought he had found his coveted gate attraction with slugger Mose Solomon, ballyhooed as the “Rabbi of Swat,” but Solomon lasted only two games in 1923. Five years later, Andy Cohen had a bright rookie season but McGraw became disillusioned with the second baseman’s inconsistency and released him after the 1929 season. But when Hank Greenberg’s father asked the Giants’ manager if he would give his son a tryout, McGraw brushed him off, saying they had already seen Greenberg play in high school games and did not think he would ever amount to a ballplayer.

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Originally published: April 11, 2016. Last Updated: April 11, 2016.