October 26th, 1940:
Tigers’ slugging left fielder Hank Greenberg (.340, 41, 150) is named the American League’s Most Valuable Player with Indian hurler Bob Feller (27-11- 2.61) finishing second. Having won the award in 1935 as a first baseman, ‘Hammerin’ Hank’ becomes the first player to win another MVP playing a different position.
Like most avid baseball fans, I’m familiar with who Hank Greenberg is and that he played the majority of his career for the Detroit Tigers, but if you ask me any specifics about his career, I would have been able to tell you absolutely nothing. Researching Greenberg’s career was interesting because when he was playing, he was a beast.
The Bronx native made his MLB debut in September of 1930 and played his final game in September of 1947, yet he only played 12 seasons in the league. He only appeared for Detroit once in 1930, and then didn’t see any action with the club again until 1933, when he hit .301 with 12 home runs and 87 RBI. He, like most other baseball superstars at that time, didn’t play between 1941 and 1945 because he was serving in the military for WWII. However, for missing so many years of his prime, his career statistics are still quite impressive: .313 average, 331 home runs, 1,275 RBI, and an on-base percentage of .412.
The 1956 Hall of Fame inductee found himself leading several offensive categories on numerous occasions. He led the league in home runs, extra base hits, and RBI four times. He was included in MVP talks on seven different occasions, which just so happens to be 58% of his entire career. He won the award twice, in 1935 and 1940, and was named to the All-Star team four times, all consecutively.
I don’t know about anyone else, but reading all of this was quite surprising to me because I have never heard anyone talk about him at length before. What didn’t help was that he was over shadowed by other superstars in that time period, players like Gehrig, DiMaggio, and Williams. Fair enough. However, now we saw just how much of an offensive force Greenberg was for Detroit and why he is held in such high regard by the Tiger faithful.