The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg

The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg is a 1998 documentary film written, directed, and produced by Aviva Kempner about Hank Greenberg, first baseman of the Detroit Tigers, who was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. A Jewish player who chose not to play on Yom Kippur in 1934 during a heated pennant race, Greenberg had to face a great deal of antisemitism. In 1938 he nearly broke Babe Ruth's 60 home run record by hitting 58 home runs.

The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg
The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg.jpg
DVD cover
Directed byAviva Kempner
Written byAviva Kempner
Produced byAviva Kempner
Distributed byCowboy Pictures
Release date
  • 1998 (1998)
CountryUnited States

Like many players of the era, Greenberg had his career interrupted by military service during World War II. Initially, Greenberg was classified as unfit for service due to flat feet. However, upon re-examination, he was cleared. Before Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States Congress had released men over age 28. After the attack, Greenberg immediately reenlisted in the United States Army Air Forces.

In 1947, Greenberg, as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates and playing his final season, was one of the few ballplayers to give a warm welcome to Brooklyn Dodgers' Jackie Robinson, the majors' first black player in many years. Robinson later said, "Class tells. It sticks out all over Mr. Greenberg".[1]


Kempner states that the film took 13 years to make. "It was all about raising money for the rights to the archival and feature footage. That was so expensive that I had to stop and start about 20 times."[2] After its theatrical run, The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg was acquired by Cinemax for its Reel Life series.[3]

Film creditsEdit

Produced byEdit

Directed byEdit

  • Aviva Kempner

Written byEdit

  • Aviva Kempner

Cast overviewEdit


  • 2001 Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards – "Best Feature Documentary"
  • 2001 Chicago Film Critics Association Awards – "Best Documentary" (tied with The Filth and the Fury (2000))
  • 2001 Columbus International Film & Video Festival – "Silver Chris Award – Religion"
  • 2001 Florida Film Critics Circle Awards – "Best Documentary"
  • 1998 Hamptons International Film Festival – "Audience Award for Most Popular Documentary (Aviva Kempner) tied with Red, White & Yellow (1998)"
  • 2001 Kansas City Film Critics Circle Awards – "Best Documentary"
  • 2000 Las Vegas Film Critics Society Awards – "Sierra Award for Best Documentary"
  • 2000 National Board of Review, USA – "Best Documentary"
  • 2001 National Society of Film Critics Awards, USA – "Best Documentary"
  • 2000 New York Film Critics Circle Awards – "Best Non-Fiction Film"
  • 2001 Peabody Award
  • 1999 Washington Jewish Film Festival – "Audience Award for Documentary (Aviva Kempner)"

See alsoEdit

Further readingEdit


  • The Baseball Talmud: The Definitive Position-by-Position Ranking of Baseball's Chosen Players, Howard Megdal, Collins, 2009, ISBN 0-06-155843-5
  • The New Big Book of Jewish Baseball: An Illustrated Encyclopedia & Anecdotal History, Peter S. Horvitz, Joachim Horvitz, Perseus Distribution Services, 2007, ISBN 1-56171-821-1
  • Jews and Baseball: Entering the American mainstream, 1871-1948, Burton Alan Boxerman, Benita W. Boxerman, McFarland, 2006, ISBN 0-7864-2828-7
  • The Big Book of Jewish Baseball: An Illustrated Encyclopedia & Anecdotal History, Peter S. Horvitz, Joachim Horvitz, SP Books, 2001, ISBN 1-56171-973-0
  • The Jewish Baseball Hall of Fame: a Who's Who of Baseball Stars, Erwin Lynn, Shapolsky Publishers, 1986, ISBN 0-933503-17-2
  • Jewish Baseball Stars, Harold Uriel Ribalow, Meir Z. Ribalow, Hippocrene Books, 1984, ISBN 0-88254-898-0



  1. ^ Steverson, Bryan (2018). Baseball's Brotherhood Team. WestBow Press. ISBN 978-1-97361-688-7.
  2. ^ "Aviva Kempner "The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg"". 2014-01-02. Archived from the original on 2014-01-02. Retrieved 2021-01-20.
  3. ^ Lyons, Charles (2001-01-17). "'Greenberg' lands in Cinemax ballpark". Variety. Retrieved 2019-03-02.

External linksEdit