Turbow: The making of Hank Greenberg’s 250th home run

From SABR member Jason Turbow at The National Pastime Museum on July 31, 2016:

On May 6, 1941, Hank Greenberg was feted at Tiger Stadium, his services to the Detroit baseball club honored with a gold watch inscribed with the names of his teammates. He’d won the previous season’s American League MVP Award and led the Tigers to the pennant, but this was not about that. The guy was only 30 years old and already ticketed for Cooperstown, but this was not about that either—not directly, anyway.

The U.S. military had only recently begun its conscription process prior to full participation in World War II, and, based largely on being unmarried, Greenberg was among the first prominent athletes to qualify. It was known when the season began that his civilian status would likely expire before June. Even as the Tigers played Cleveland in their second game of the season, Michigan’s local draft board 23 announced a class 1A rating for Greenberg on the basis of a medical examination earlier in the day. “I’ll ask no deferment,” the slugger told the New York Times, “and will be ready when called.”

Sure enough, Greenberg’s number, 621, was announced shortly thereafter. Thus did he find himself amid significant fanfare prior to Detroit’s May 6 game against the Yankees, his last one prior to reporting. The festivities, which in addition to his watch included a pen-and-pencil set presented to him by the Briggs Stadium grounds crew, bore overt shades of an involuntary retirement party.

Read the full article here: http://www.thenationalpastimemuseum.com/article/making-hank-greenberg-s-250th-home-run

Originally published: August 2, 2016. Last Updated: August 2, 2016.