Hank Greenberg

1st Baseman

Class of 1956

Hank Greenberg

1st Baseman

Class of 1956
Despite losing four prime seasons to World War II and another to a fractured wrist, Hank Greenberg still walloped 331 home runs.


Birth year

About Hank Greenberg

"He was one of the truly great hitters, and when I first saw him at bat, he made my eyes pop out." – Joe DiMaggio

Henry Benjamin Greenberg was born on Jan. 1, 1911, in New York City. After a stellar amateur career, his hometown Yankees offered him a contract, but he opted to join the Detroit Tigers.

Greenberg would win two American League Most Valuable Player Awards in his career with Detroit. The first came in 1935 when playing first base he hit .328 and led the league in both home runs (36) and RBI (168). Greenberg's Tigers would win the World Series that year, though he missed the majority of the Fall Classic after breaking his wrist in the second game.

Greenberg earned his second MVP in 1940 as an outfielder; he batted .340 and again paced the American League in homers (41) while driving in the most runs (150). This would be the first time in MLB history that a player won an MVP award at two different positions.

War spreading across the globe in the 1940s would cut out a significant portion of Greenberg's playing career. Greenberg was initially brought into military service in May 1941, only to be honorably discharged on Dec. 5 of that year, a mere two days before the attacks at Pearl Harbor. Greenberg would immediately re-enlist. In June 1945, his military service concluded and Greenberg jumped right back into baseball.

Even though he had been away from the game for more than four years, Greenberg's skills hadn't waned. His return in the latter half of the 1945 season helped drive the Tigers to another World Series appearance. Greenberg's Fall Classic performance was spectacular, as he drove in seven runs in seven games while hitting .304, propelling the Tigers to victory over the Cubs.

In 1946, Greenberg once again leading the league in home runs (44) and RBI (127). That would be his final year as a member of the Detroit Tigers, however, as the Pittsburgh Pirates purchased his contract before the 1947 season. He would play only one season with the Pirates before retiring to take over direction of the Indians' farm system. Greenberg would shortly become their general manager and would later serve the White Sox in the same capacity.

Greenberg was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1956. He passed away on Sept. 4, 1986.

The Basics

Year inducted
Birth Place
New York, New York
Birth Year
1986, Beverly Hills California

Career at a Glance

Primary Team
Detroit Tigers
Primary Position
1st Baseman
Played For
Detroit Tigers, 1930
Detroit Tigers, 1933-1941
Detroit Tigers, 1945-1946
Pittsburgh Pirates, 1947

Career MLB Stats

At bats
Home Runs
Stolen Bases
Batting Average
On Base %
Slugging %

Hank Greenberg Stories

Explore the archives and go deep into the lives, careers, and stories of the Hall of Fame's honorees.

Final call: Legends thrive on season's last day

The Return of Hank Greenberg

Notes from Hank

Tigers move first baseman Hank Greenberg to the outfield

Greenberg’s first big contract proved to be a bargain

#Shortstops: Greenberg’s Full Service