“The year in Raleigh [1930, playing in the Class C Piedmont League] was an experience. At first I didn’t fit in. I encountered more curiosity than hostility. My teammates were a bunch of farm boys, and I was a big, ungainly kid from the city. One day I was standing on the field when I became aware of a teammate walking slowly around me, staring.
” ‘I’ve never seen a Jew before,’ he said. ‘I’m just looking…. I don’t understand it. You look just like anybody else.’
” ‘Thanks,’ I said.”
— From “Hank Greenberg: The Story of My Life” (1989)
The Bronx-born Greenberg went on to become the first Jewish superstar. For most of his career he played first base for the Detroit Tigers. In 1938 he hit 58 home runs, threatening Babe Ruth’s record.
I’ll go with Greenberg’s autobiography, but for the record I’ve also seen this anecdote placed in Beaumont, Texas, in the 1932 season.