Jews & Sports

from Big Mo's Sports Desk

Thirty-four years before Sandy Koufax

Hank Greenberg, a Hall of fame Jewish baseball star, refused the play on Yom Kippur during the 1934 World Series (14 months before Sandy Koufax was born!). His decision inspired a journalist and poet, Edgar A. Guest, to compose "Speaking of Greenberg."
Here it is, as first published in the Detroit Free Press in 1934 (except for one line slightly re-arranged by our devoted editor).


Speaking of Greenberg

The Irish didn’t like it when they heard of Greenberg’s fame
For they thought a good first baseman should possess an Irish name;
And the Murphys and Mulrooneys said they never dreamed they’d see
A Jewish boy from Bronxville out where Casey used to be.

In the early days of April not a Dugan tipped his hat
Or prayed to see a “double” when Hank Greenberg came to bat.

In July the Irish wondered where he’d ever learned to play.
“He makes me think of Casey!” Old Man Murphy dared to say;
And with fifty-seven doubles and a score of homers made
The respect they had for Greenberg was being openly displayed.

But upon the Jewish New Year when Hank Greenberg came to bat
And made two home runs off Pitcher Rhodes—
They cheered like mad for that.

Came Yom Kippur day —holy world wide over to the Jew—
And Hank Greenberg to his teaching and the old tradition true
Spent the day among his people and he didn’t come to play.

Said Murphy to Mulrooney, “We shall lose the game today!
We shall miss him on the infield and shall miss him at the bat,
But he’s true to his religion—and I honor him for that!”

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