Greenberg was 29 and at his peak when World War II began in Europe. He became the first baseball star to enter the service. Rising to the rank of captain in the Army Air Corps, Greenberg missed three full seasons and a major portion of two others, returning in time to hit the grand slam home run in the final game of 1945 that gave Detroit one more pennant, its last until 1968. But he had slowed badly. The Tigers sold him to Pittsburgh, where he played one final season—for a reported $100,000, at that time the largest salary ever paid to a major leaguer—before retiring at 36.
Greenberg moved in wealthy circles—his first wife was Caral Gimbel, the department store heiress—and he eventually worked in the front office for the Indians and White Sox for his close friend Bill Veeck. A friendly, dignified man, impeccably dressed, Greenberg would appear at this baseball affair or that one, always gracing them with his presence. He had a fine sense of appreciation and deserved the spot he earned in baseball's Hall of Fame.
FIGHT FIERCELY, NO. 1
Harvard, which celebrated its 350th birthday last week, was always ahead of its time. The Crimson rowed against Yale in 1852 in America's first intercollegiate sporting event and played what it claims was history's first "real" football game (i.e., one not using soccerlike rules) in 1874 against McGill. The school rolled up seven national football titles before 1920—though it's still waiting for an eighth.
Even Harvard's athletic scandals came and went early. In 1882, according to the book Crimson In Triumph, university president Charles W. Eliot established a faculty committee to oversee an athletic department that had been hiring "professional" coaches, scheduling too many games and permitting part-time students to play. Yet the school struggled to find a proper mix of sports and academics. "You haven't got a thing to say for Harvard athletics," one crew coach told the school when turning down a job offer in the early 1900s. "The alumni run the show, and everybody knows it. Under your system a coach doesn't stand a chance—he loses a few contests and he gets the ax."
The emphasis on winning has ebbed since then, along with big-time success. Harvard's last football Hall of Famer, Endicott Peabody, graduated in 1941. Its alltime record against Princeton in football is now 28-43-7. ("I don't know why," wrote Fitzgerald, a Princetonian, through his character Amory Blaine, "but I think of all Harvard men as sissies.") Against Yale, in what is still known as The Game east of the Hudson, the Crimson is 38-56-8.
Harvard's most renowned athletes of recent vintage have been punter-wide receiver Pat McInally ('75), who recently retired from the Bengals; pro baseball utilityman Mike Stenhouse ('79); ex-Hartford Whaler defenseman Mark Fusco ('83); and George Plimpton ('48), who has played with the Lions, Celtics and Bruins.
Altogether, Harvard has produced 58 national championship teams in six sports and will even more proudly quote you its number of times on NCAA probation: zero.