Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy Birthday Hank and LaMarr

Hank Greenberg's statue outside Comerica Park.

Hank Greenberg was simply one of the best right hand hitters to play the game.  His 183 RBI's in 1937 is second all time to Gehrig's 184.  He hit 58 home runs in 1938.  His lifetime average OPS+ was 158.  He twice won the the AL MVP in 1935 and 1940.  Greenberg was another one of those stars who lost years to the war, as well as most of 1936 to serious injury.  He's also interesting because he is one of the first Jewish stars. 
Drafted before Pearl Harbor, Greenberg was the first major leaguer to serve in the armed forces in WWII.  Greenberg went to OCS, served with the USAAF in Asia, and finished the war a captain.

A tall, lanky first baseman, Greenberg was someone who simply wouldn't tolerate anti-semitic remarks, and enjoyed being a role model for what was possible for American Jews.  Greenberg played 12 years with the Tigers before being traded to the Pirates in 1947.  He was elected to the baseball Hall of Fame in 1956 went on to become Tigers general manager.  Hammerin' Hank died in 1986.  There is an excellent documentary called The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg that is available through Netflix.  It can also be streamed.
Greenberg was a great hitter who played on some very good teams-the G-Men World Series teams of 1934-5, and the 1940 and 1945 Tigers that also won the pennant.

Lamarr Hoyt was a nifty right handed pitcher for the White Sox and Padres in the 80's.  He had a couple of really good years, '82 and '83.  He won the Cy Young Award in 83 leading the AL in wins with 24.  Hoyt ended his career with the Padres in 1986 after being twice charged with drug possession. Commissioner Peter Ueberroth banned him from the game.  Pity.  For four years he was a good pitcher on some decent White Sox teams.  Lamarr Hoyt was born January 1, 1955.Wonder what he's doing now?
A good pitcher with the White Sox, despite the awful uniforms, Lamarr Hoyt threw away his promising baseball career.

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