#Shortstops: Greenberg’s Full Service
The Detroit Tigers great was one of many professional baseball players to serve in the United States military during World War II.
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At the time he was drafted in May 1941, Greenberg had just begun his 10th season in the big leagues. He was coming off four straight All-Star selections and had already collected American League MVP Awards in 1935 and 1940. He and his Tigers had claimed one World Series title in 1935, in addition to appearing in two other Fall Classics in 1934 and 1940.
But in the prime of his career, the slugger had to resign his post as Detroit’s left fielder and take up a new one in the Army, reporting for duty at Fort Custer, Mich., on May 7, 1941.
By that time, Greenberg had returned to the United States to continue his service with the Air Technical Service Command’s production division, based in Manhattan.
Greenberg was discharged from the military for good on June 14, 1945. And while many had speculated about whether his baseball career was already over, he came back as strong as ever, homering in his first game back on July 1, 1945 and going on to bat .311 for the season. He led the Tigers to another World Series title that October, as Detroit defeated the Chicago Cubs in seven games.
Greenberg went on to play two more full seasons, including his final year with the Pittsburgh Pirates, who purchased his contract from Detroit in January 1947. He remained in the game for years following his retirement, serving as general manager for the Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox.
Greenberg was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1956.
Janey Murray is the digital content specialist at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum