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Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Flashback, 1960: When Jerry Reinsdorf Played Softball, He Played For Keeps

The King and his Court-ing Hank Greenberg.

The student nine was ahead, looking like it had the chance to notch its first victory over the faculty in years, when the plot thickened. The faculty called time out and appointed Greenberg honorary dean for the day, a move that made him a de facto member of its side and sent the man with the .313 career batting average, 331 home runs and 1,276 RBI to bat.

Reinsdorf, who had anticipated the faculty would pull some such underhanded stunt, countered by summoning a girl to pitch and surreptitiuosly slipping her a ball stuffed with cotton. He figured Greenberg would not be able to give the truly soft ball much of a ride. But the former Tiger slugger clobbered the first pitch and knocked the stuffing out of the ball, which landed foul, so the girl had to deliver a regulation 16” softball. Greenberg drove her next pitch “as far as you could and still stay in the park,” Reinsdorf says. “We had a guy stationed in the outfield about 800 miles away who caught it.”

The next time up with runners on base and the students clinging to a one-run lead, Greenberg slashed a drive that the shortstop tried—unsuccessfully—to field. “It nearly took the hand off the shortstop,” Reinsdorf says.

Greenberg’s hit drove in two runs that put the faculty ahead. The law school’s permanent dean promptly declared the game over, preserving the faculty’s winning streak. “Cheaters,” Reinsdorf says. “I thought for sure we were going to beat them.”

Reinsdorf didn’t see Greenberg again until an old-timers game at Comiskey Park the day before the 1983 All-Star Game. By then the owner of the White Sox himself, Reinsdorf ran into Greenberg in the dugout. Twenty-three years later, the ump who had produced the game-winning hit still remembered the softball tilt. That pleased Reinsdorf, who was finally able to accept the loss.

Repoz Posted: April 02, 2013 at 11:09 AM | 1 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history, tigers, white sox

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   1. Hang down your head, Tom Foley Posted: April 02, 2013 at 12:23 PM (#4402006)
countered by summoning a girl to pitch

Was her name Judith?

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