Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Yom Kippur and Hank Greenberg and me.

Today is Yom Kippur, the Holiest day in the Jewish calendar. After going pretty hard at work for the past month, I am taking the day off.

I do this because my people have been doing this, or trying to, for 5700 years. Besides, my wife would kill me if I didn't.

In 1934, the original Hebrew Hammer, Hank Greenberg of the Detroit Tigers, refused to play ball on Yom Kippur, though his team was in the middle of a pennant race. He was booed by fans and excoriated by the press. However, Greenberg received a standing ovation from the congregants of Shaarey Zedek synagogue when he arrived at temple.

Edgar A. Guest, a poet and columnist wrote a poem in admiration for Greenberg for taking one for the true Home Team.

In any event, I'm taking off.

I'm no Hank Greenberg.

Though I can write a mean piece of copy.


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 Murphy s 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 on 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—holy fast day worldwide 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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