A hidden Village memorial to a 1930s sports hero

HankgreenberghomeOn the slender stretch of Barrow Street just west of Sheridan Square is a typical old-school city tenement.

Blending in discreetly on the outside of 16 Barrow Street is a weathered plaque honoring an early occupant: baseball all-star Hyman “Hank” Greenberg (below in 1933).

The Hebrew Hammer, as one of his nicknames went, lived there for a year after his birth in 1911, after which his family moved to a tenement on Perry Street.

Greenberg never played for a New York team; he spent his long career through the 1930s and 1940s slugging it out for the Detroit Tigers.

Hankgreenberg1933He made a name for himself not just as an excellent ballplayer but as the first Jewish superstar (his parents were Romanian-born Orthodox Jews).

In his memoir, The Story of My Life, he recalls the Village back in the 1910s.

“Baseball didn’t exist in Greenwich Village,” he wrote. “The neighborhood kids played one-o-cat, or stickball, or some other game that could be played on a city street.

“There was no place to play baseball, and nobody thought about the game, or missed it. Kids down in the Village thought the national pastime was beating up kids of other nationalities.”


The Greenbergs decided the neighborhood was too rough and relocated to the Bronx. At Monroe High School, Hank began playing the game that earned him fame and fortune.

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9 Responses to “A hidden Village memorial to a 1930s sports hero”

  1. M.Lane Says:

    Every so often I have to leave a comment saying how wonderful your blog is and how much I love reading it. You should do a big coffee table book of all this marvelous information!!!


  2. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    Thank you! And I’ll let you in on a little secret…something like that is coming out this fall. Stay tuned!

  3. Gc Says:

    Thank you for point out all the secret history in nyc. I get updates in my emails on your post and it really give me joy

  4. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    Thank you for your kind words!

  5. Mike Says:

    I don’t comment often but I have to agree. This is one of the first sites I turn to in the morning. Always a Joy. Now I have to find and read his memoirs. I’m a huge baseball fan and west village resident. I wonder if he makes mention of the extension of the 7th ave which would have taken place during his childhood. 16 Barrow as just spared by the construction.

  6. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    Thank you! I only read the excerpt allowed on Amazon, but he didn’t mention the Seventh Ave subway . . . however there’s some great info about what Halloween was like on Perry Street. Rough neighborhood!

  7. Beryl Kaurfman Says:

    Please add me to your mailing list. A friend shared this with me and I found it very interesting. My late husband was a baseball fan and so I became one.

    My friend’s name is James Sullivan and he teaches classes about NY at Adult Education venues for Seniors in CT. He does extensive research and unearths many interesting facts/stories which make his classes very enjoyable.

  8. georgebeach Says:

    I will echo the frequent request for a large, coffee-table-sized book with all your stories and posts about NYC and the nearby areas. I find them charming and of great historical interest. I love your interest in the fine arts in the area. I will buy a copy.

  9. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    Thank you!
    As I mentioned before, something is coming out this fall . . . it’s not quite a collection of blog posts but it features wonderful images and text that I think you will enjoy.

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