I don’t care much for baseball but I’m a sucker for a good story. The odd thing is, baseball seems to be quite a breeding ground for tantalizing tales. I’ve been bamboozled into reading far more than my share of baseball novels because they developed into darn good stories.
When Jackie Met Hank is just such an example. I have to admit that, thanks to the current film, 42, I did have a passing interest when I saw a book about Jackie Robinson. And, it wasn’t too painful to read a picture book about baseball players. I’m glad I dropped my guard. Reading When Jackie Met Hank was time well spent.
Cathy Goldberg Fishman has told her story from a very interesting perspective by stating in the opening sentence that “Jack Roosevelt Robinson and Henry Benjamin Greenberg were born eight years and 1,000 miles apart.” She then proceeds to tell how at various stages of growing up they came –unbeknownst to the other—a little closer and a little closer.
As boys, both men had an aptitude for sports but their lives were more intertwined that they realized. Jackie Robinson was the first Negro player in the major leagues, a role that won him as much reproach as fame. There’s no doubt that Jackie’s rookie year was hard, very hard. What is however, not as well remembered today, is the story of Hank Greenberg, one of the first Jewish professional baseball stars. His road to becoming “Hammerin’ Hank” was almost as rocky as Robinson’s. They knew each other’s pain. Both men were class acts on the field and off. Ms. Fishman tells how Jackie Robinson said as much about Hank Greenberg when he told a New York Times reporter, “Class tells. It sticks out all over Mr. Greenberg.” Jackie Robinson and Hank Green berg were two men, different yet alike in many ways, brought together by sports but held together in friendship and respect by an even greater game, the game of life, a game at which both of them excelled. Posted by: Eileen