Cubs’ History, continued…
After the 1932 clean-sweep by the Yankees, the Cubs won their next pennant in 1935. This brought them up against the powerful Detroit Tigers, who were repeat AL Champs, looking to notch their first World Championship. Not coincidentally, managing and starting at catcher for Detroit was former Athletic Mickey Cochrane. The Tigers won in six games over the cursed Cubbies.
It shouldn’t have been that easy for them, though. In the second game at Navin Field in Detroit, the Tigers lost their great slugger and RBI-man, Hank Greenberg. It was Greenberg who famously sat out a game in the middle of the pennant race the year before to honor the Lord on Yom Kippur. “Hammerin’ Hank” hit a home-run in Game Two, but later broke his wrist (which, providentially, kept him off the field on Yom Kippur 1935 – a game he would have played in if healthy). His replacement at first – Marv Owen – went only 1 – 20 in the Series, while Owens’ replacement at third – a guy named Flea Clifton – went a horrifying 0 – 16. But, despite these advantages, the Cubs still lost.
In an article titled, “Joe Roggins was Hank Greenberg’s good-luck charm” by Richard Bak, published in the May 19, 2013 edition of the Detroit Tigers On-Line Encyclopedia, we’re told that “Hank Greenberg took the 13-year-old batboy, who lived on the city’s west side, under his wing. However, Joe Roginski didn’t go by his given name; he was Joe Roggins to the Tigers. As his son Michael once recalled, the boy “was afraid of being Polish…. Greenberg, who took considerable abuse for being Jewish, undoubtedly saw in Joe some of his own struggle to be accepted. He occasionally took the boy on road trips and would visit the modest Roginski home on Wesson Avenue. ‘Hank would come over and have a bowl of czarnina, duck blood soup,’ recalled Joe’s brother, Stanley. ‘Word would get out and a half-hour later there was 500 kids gathering outside.’
“As Greenberg pursued his first home-run title in 1935, he developed a routine of always warming up before games by playing catch with his good-luck charm. And after he clouted one into the seats, he insisted that Roggins be the first to greet him at home plate.
“The ritual continued into the World Series that year against the Chicago Cubs. After dropping the first game at Navin Field, the Tigers rebounded to win Game Two. Greenberg smashed a two-run homer in the first inning; as always, Roggins was standing at home plate, waiting to shake his hand first.
“This time, though, Greenberg’s good-luck charm failed him. Later in the game, Greenberg collided with Cubs catcher Gabby Hartnett, injuring his wrist and knocking him out for the rest of the Series. The Tigers wound up winning their first championship without their big gun in the lineup.”
Three things: first – ball players, and all of us, really, need to be very careful of superstitions. It’s one thing if rituals or routines help a player focus or calm down – I think that acceptable. But for a player to imagine doing things to “realign their fate” or to create something like good luck – that’s unacceptable. That’s a violation of the First Commandment, not to worship any false god. It shows a lack of faith and trust in the Lord. We don’t seek the devil’s blessing in anything we do, and believing in superstitions is doing just that. The Lord is in sovereign control of everything; believing in demonic magic in foolhardy.
Second: I couldn’t find out much about the collision with Gabby Hartnett, but I wonder if he was at fault for breaking Hank’s arm. In other words: did he try to hurt the Tigers’ first baseman deliberately to put him out of the game and the series? If that’s what he did – that really adds to the curse that the Cubs were already under. Greenberg, even though he apparently had no genuine faith, he still had publically honored the Lord by sitting out Yom Kippur in the pennant race of 1934 (and, yes, he missed a game against the Yankees, which the Tigers lost). If the Cubs’ catcher saw the collision coming and deliberately attempted to injure one of God’s protected players – the curse would multiply.
Third: fortunately for Hank, the second game was played in Detroit, at the Tigers home park, Navin Field. I can only imagine the vitriol he would have faced at the next three games at Wrigley Field. I think Greenberg wanted to try and play in Chicago, but was unable (he actually had stayed in Game Two after he got hurt). The Cubs fans probably would have let him have it with everything they had – and Anti-Semitic slurs would have been on the tips of their tongues, unencumbered by the modern political correctness barrier. Anti-Semitism was at its height in the world at the time – I’m sure it was rampant in Chicago. Hank might as well have had a Star-of-David – shaped target on his back. I have no doubt that he took a great deal of abuse, just by being around or sitting on the Tigers’ bench. As a Phillies fan, I know what abuse looks like – and the Cubs fans take a backseat to no others fans in that regard. So… just the attitude of contempt and the planned verbal lambasting of Detroit’s Jewish superstar was enough for God to, not only continue the curse, but increase it.
The Cubs’failure in 1935 was capped by this moment of ignominy – again, for an unbiased testimony, I’ll quote Wikipedia: “In Game 6, Tommy Bridges pitched a complete game victory to win the Series for Detroit. With the score tied 3–3 in the top of the ninth inning, Bridges gave up a leadoff triple to Stan Hack, but retired the next three batters without the runner on third scoring. In the bottom of the ninth, Goose Goslin drove in the winning run with two outs. After the game, manager Mickey Cochrane said the following of Bridges’ gutsy performance: ‘A hundred and fifty pounds of courage. If there ever is a payoff on courage this little 150-pound pitcher is the greatest World Series hero.’ ”
The Cubs, however, won another pennant three years later. In 1938, Gabby Hartnett won the pennant with a home run hit in near-darkness at Wrigley Field, the so-called “Homer in the Gloamin”” They were set to face the defending World Champions, the New York Yankees – a Yankees’ team that many consider to be one of the greatest of all time. By this time, the Cubs had former Cardinals’ great Dizzy Dean, but he had a sore arm and did not pitch well in the Yankees’ four game sweep. The Bronx Bombers scored a total of 22 runs to the Cubs 9. Despite an oddly weak performance by the greatest RBI man of all time – Lou Gehrig – the Cubs could do much. Nobody knew that the Iron Horse had played his last Series – he would be forced to retire in 1939 because of his increasing deterioration due to the disease that today bears his name.
The Cubs scuffled through the next few seasons, finishing in the middle of the pack, until they broke through again to win the NL pennant in the last War year, 1945. That same year – a Shemitah season, not coincidently – Hank Greenberg returned halfway through the season to lead the Tigers to their first pennant since he last was with them: the 1940 World Series, where they lost to the Cincinnati Reds. Hank started 1941 with the Tigers, but he soon left them. He was drafted into the Army and had to leave the team. While the US was not yet officially in World War Two, the writing was on the wall. Greenberg was especially conscious of his responsibility because he personally knew what was at stake: his fellow Jews were undergoing a level of persecution that was unimaginable. His baseball career was still at its height, but what was going on in the world was more important. He actually served his time and had been discharged, when he decided to enlist – the first baseball player to do so. It was because of Pearl Harbor – his nation was at war, and he believed it was his obligation to be part of it. He was – for a total of four and a half years.
Hank joined the Tigers without the benefit of spring training. In his first game on July 1st, he homered. He was selected on the All-Star team. He then helped lead Detroit to a come-from-behind pennant win. Greenberg himself clinched the pennant with a grand slam in the darkness at Sportsman Park, St Louis over the defending AL Champions, the Browns. That year, 1945, because of travel restrictions, they played the first three games in Detroit, and the last four games in Chicago.
The Cubs won two out of three in Detroit, then it was on to Wrigley. So – here’s the situation: the Cubs are leading the Series 2 games to one with four games to play at home in “The Friendly Confines”. The best player on the other team is a tall Jewish fellow. Question: how do you think this great ball player, this brave patriot who sacrificed four and a half years in the military, fighting an enemy who saw him and his people as a degenerate race no better than rats who must, by all means, be eliminated, who had seen the horrors of the Holocaust with his own eyes, who was also a Jewish man who honored his God, Yahweh, by sitting out Yom Kippur in the middle of a pennant race (missing a game against the hated Yankees, no less!) who had been honored by Yahweh, allowing his team to win the AL pennant that year, win a World Championship the following year, and win another pennant 5 years later in 1940, who was a man who NEVER played on Yom Kippur, but always played his best on Rosh Hashanah? Do you think the Cubs’ fans treated him with respect?
I think the answer is, “No.”
I know – I have no right to criticize… after all, I’m a Phillies’ fan, and we booed Santa Claus and Ronald McDonald, right? First of all – those incidents were at Eagles’ games – but, OK – Philadelphia sports fans have a well-earned reputation for being, shall we say, “not so nice.” But that’s why I know what must have happened: the same thing would have happened in Philadelphia. But I could just imagine the pure contempt that the Wrigley faithful would have brought down on Hammerin’ Hank. And it was probably not just simply booing – that would have been understandable. I’m sure the vicious reception they gave Mr. Greenberg was full of the most vile ethnic slurs concerning his Jewish ancestry. I think it was so vile that Elohim put them under the most severe curse in the history of American Sports – the “Curse of the Hebrew Hammer” we’ll call it. “I would say “Hex”, but that’s a demonic curse, not one from Yahweh). It was so bad that it has lasted 70 years.
Which is the same time period that – no, can it be? That’s the same amount of time Elohim exiled His people, the Jews, to Babylon, isn’t it? From the Fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple that Solomon built in 586 BC, to their return under Zarebbabel in 516 BC – exactly 70 years. It’s also instructive to remember why Yahweh sent them into exile that long: because, according to the last chapter of 2nd Chronicles, that’s how many Shemitahs the people of Israel owed Yahweh.
That’s my conclusion: the Cubs’ fans disrespected someone who was blessed in the eyes of his God, Elohim, and He cursed them for a 70 year exile.
But the time is just about up…
From The Detroit Tigers website: The Tigers went on to beat the Cubs in the World Series in seven games. Only three home runs were hit in that World Series. Phil Cavarretta hit one for the Cubs in Game One. Greenberg hit the only two homers by the Tigers—one in Game Two, where he batted in three runs in a 4–1 win; the other—a two-run job—tied the game in the eighth inning of Game Six, making the score 8–8, but the Cubs won that game with a run in the bottom of the 12th.
In Game Seven, Greenberg sliced a liner to Lowrey, who made a nice running catch. Mayo scored after the catch. 1945 scoring rules did not credit Big Hank with a sacrifice