When Hank Greenberg Went To War

By Dan Epstein in Forward:

On December 5, 1941, Hank Greenberg walked out of Michigan’s Fort Custer Training Center a free man. Seven months earlier, he had become the first major league baseball star to be drafted into the U.S. armed forces since war had erupted in Europe in 1939. Hank had done his service time without complaint, even though it meant making $21 a month as an Army foot soldier instead of $55,000 a year as a left fielder for the Detroit Tigers.

Now, however, Greenberg was looking forward to returning to baseball in 1942, and hoping his enforced sabbatical from the game hadn’t harmed his ability to terrorize opposing pitchers. But two days later, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, it suddenly occurred to Greenberg that his playing days might actually be over. “This doubtless means I am finished with baseball,” he told reporters, announcing that he would enlist in the Army Air Corps instead of waiting to be called back as a reservist.

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Remembering Hank Greenberg’s Service in World War II – from Vintage Detroit


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