18 January 2008 | ccthemovieman-1
A Bigger-Than-Life Hero To Millions Of People
I've seen this promoted, most of the time, as a movie for Jewish people because it is about their first big baseball idol, Hank Greenberg. A lot of the material here deals with how big an idol Hank was to all the Jews in Amercia back then. I found that interesting, but I watched it simply because I love baseball, especially the "old days" and am thrilled to see footage of any Major League baseball games and stars from the first half of the 20th century. If there is a human-interest behind the diamond heroics, all the better! It's amazing the degree Greenberg was literally worshiped by the Jewish people make in the 1930s and 1940s.
Greenberg was a likable guy and I enjoyed seeing him talk here and there from an interview he did in the early '80s, talking about his career. He isn't a braggart, but he's not that modest, either. He knew he was very good. He didn't make excuses either when he didn't accomplish he wanted, like hitting 60 homers one season. Sadly, some of the commentators like attorney Alan Dershowitz are not so unbiased. His paranoia is more than evident, claiming they didn't want a Jewish man breaking Ruth's record so they wouldn't throw strikes to him. That's proved a lie in the next minute when they show Cleveland ace Bob Feller striking him out several times in a late-season game as Hank was stuck at 58 and never made it to 60. To his credit, Greenberg said those claims were false, anyway.
I enjoyed not only seeing Greenberg smash the ball but witnessing some of his famous and not-so-famous teammates in footage, too, and also interviewed in their older age - guys like Charlie Gehringer, a great second baseman on Hank's winning teams in Detroit.
Greenberg was one of a number of great baseball players who gave up years of his ballplayer prime to serve in the military during World war II, as it is pointed out here. He left at the age of 31 and came back at 35.....and wound up hitting a grand slam in the bottom of the ninth to enable the Tigers to win the pennant! It might have been his greatest hit. The Tigers went on to cap off the season with a World Series win over the Cubs
That's one reason (besides the recent steroids scandal) baseball records aren't as meaningful as people think. Guys like Greenberg and Boston's Ted Williams lost 4-5 years of their prime years in baseball. Who knows what their final totals would be had their been no war?
I liked what Greenberg said near the end of this long documentary, something I wish more athletes of today would say (and believe): "I"ve tried to pattern my life on the fact that I'm out there in the limelight, so to speak, and that there are a lot of kids out there. If I set a good example for them, maybe it will, in some way, affect their lives."
Amen to that.