Hank Greenberg was born Hyman Greenberg on January 1, 1911, in Greenwich Village, New York City to Romanian-born Jewish immigrant parents David and Sarah Greenberg, who owned a successful cloth-shrinking plant in New York. Hank had two brothers, Ben, four years older, and Joe, five years younger, who also played baseball, and a sister, Lillian, two years older. His family moved to the Bronx when he was about seven. Greenberg lacked coordination as a youngster and flat feet prevented him from running fast. But he worked diligently to overcome his inadequacies. He attended James Monroe High School in the Bronx, where he was an outstanding all-around athlete. His preferred sport was baseball, and his preferred position was first base. He became a basketball standout in high school, helping Monroe win the city championship.
In 1929, he was recruited by the New York Yankees, who already had a capable first baseman, Lou Gehrig. Greenberg turned them down and instead attended New York University for a year, after which he signed with the Detroit Tigers for $9,000 ($125,000 today).
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