web analytics
April 21, 2015 / 2 Iyar, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Home » InDepth » Monitor »

Au Revoir, Harry Danning



Harry Danning died last week, and all The New York Times could muster was a dry, unbylined, six-paragraph obituary that somehow managed to overlook Danning’s Jewishness – not a small thing when one considers that Danning played for the old New York Giants from 1933 to 1942, was selected four times to the National League All Star team, and until his death at age 93 had been the oldest living Jewish major leaguer.

The Times’s paltry obit put one to mind of that paper’s late, great Alden Whitman, whose stylish biographical essays on the lives of the newly deceased elevated obituary writing to something approaching an art form.

In recent years the Times’s obituaries have rarely risen to the standard set by Whitman, who no doubt would have celebrated Danning as a minor New York folk hero whose exploits and achievements had fallen into obscurity with the passing of years, generations, and the Giants team itself, which moved to San Francisco following the 1957 baseball season.

Danning, whose Polish immigrant father sold used furniture, grew up in Los Angeles where he played semi-pro ball. Signed by the Giants – who were always on the lookout for Jewish ballplayers to spark interest among New York City’s large Jewish population – Danning, a catcher, began his big-league career as a back up but soon developed into a solid everyday player and perennial All Star.

Nicknamed ‘Harry the Horse’ after a Damon Runyon character, Danning experienced a fair amount of anti-Semitism from opposing players and fans. In an interview with the Baltimore Sun just a few months before his death, he said that one of the ethnic catcalls he remembered hearing was ‘Pitch under his nose, he can’t see the ball.’

Even so, Danning told the Sun that the Jew-baiting usually didn’t faze him, and that what he went through was nothing compared with the treatment accorded the first black major leaguers.

The taunts and slurs that did come his way were no doubt hurtful, but playing on the Giants provided something of a protective atmosphere. At one point the team boasted four Jews on its roster, and one year during spring training when a Florida hotel refused entry to Danning and Jewish teammate Phil Weintraub, Giants manager Bill Terry threatened to take the entire team to another hotel unless his Jewish players were given lodging. The hotel’s management quickly backed down.

Danning’s brother Ike was also a major league catcher – albeit for a relatively brief period and for one of baseball’s most woeful franchises, the St. Louis Browns (now the Baltimore Orioles). Ike, who died in 1983, plays a starring role in one of the more famous anecdotes involving Jewish baseball players. As David Spaner tells it in his essay ‘From Greenberg to Green: Jewish Ballplayers,’ which appeared in the 1997 edition of Total Baseball – The Official Encyclopedia of Major league Baseball:

When Jimmie Reese [who at one point in his career was Babe Ruth’s roommate] was playing in the Pacific Coast League, he appeared in a celebrity game in which the other team had a Jewish battery of pitcher-songwriter Harry Ruby and catcher Ike Danning….Instead of using signals, Danning called the game in Yiddish, figuring none of the opposing players would understand. Reese slammed four hits, and after the game Ruby said to him, ‘I didn’t know you were that good a hitter, Jimmie.’

‘You also didn’t know,’ Reese said, ‘that my name was Hymie Solomon.’

The Baseball Hall of Fame held a ceremony honoring Jewish major leaguers last August, but Harry Danning wasn’t up to making the trip.

Danning, who worked a variety of jobs after leaving baseball in 1942, was still receiving fan mail in the months before he died. ‘I take things as they are,’ he told the Baltimore Sun. ‘I beat the rap anyway – I’ll be 93 next month. How many people are that old in the world?

About the Author: Jason Maoz is the Senior Editor of The Jewish Press. He can be contacted at jmaoz@jewishpress.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Au Revoir, Harry Danning”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Student at Har Etzion Yeshiva reads announcement of the death of Rabbi Lichtenstein.
Thousands Mourn Rabbi Lichtenstein
Latest Indepth Stories
Rav Aharon Lichtenstein

What was supposed to have been a 15 minute interview, turned into an intense learning session and intellectual battle, the likes of which I had never experienced in my entire life.

Rabbi Lichtenstein (z"l).

Rav Lichtenstein did not learn Tanaim, Amoraim, Rishonim and Achronim, rather he learned with them

Israel Supreme Court at Night

How can NIF claim they don’t support BDS when they try to repeal laws forbidding boycotts of Israel?

Rabbi Lichtenstein (z"l).

“Rav Lichtenstein’s vision and inspiration served to guide the development of Tzohar.”

As Holocaust survivors decline rapidly attacks on the veracity of the Holocaust rapidly escalates

The Constitution created history’s most powerful legislature & inherent foreign policy power battle

The S-300 poses a major problem; Israel will have to get creative as to if, when & where it strikes

“The resentment towards us (Jews/Israelis) was really intense. They clearly hate Zionism & Zionists”

Egypt has been more effective against Gazan smuggling tunnels than Israel’s military operations

She had many names and was many things to many people, but to me she was just Babineni.

Is ISIS in Gaza? “No, but there are ISIS loyalists here..we pray to God they unite under ISIS’ flag”

Rabbi Portal was that great “inspirer,” changing people for the better, enriching the lives of all

Iran knows Obama, Putin, and the Europeans don’t have a Red Line beyond which they will go to war

There is no way to explain the Holocaust. I know survivors who are not on speaking terms with G-d. I know many who are the opposite. I have no right to go there…

When a whole side of your family perishes, friends become the extended family you do not have.

“We stand with Israel because of its values and its greatness and because its such a wonderful ally”

More Articles from Jason Maoz
Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, both outspokenly critical of Netanyahu’s upcoming visit to Congress, were wowed by him in 2011.

Note also the response to the speech by the top Democrats in the House and Senate, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, both of whom have been outspoken in their criticism of Netanyahu’s upcoming visit.

Comptroller DiNapoli celebrates Sukkot with Crown Heights Jewish community leaders at the sukkah of Rabbi Chanina Sperlin of the Crown Heights Jewish Community Council.

The New York State comptroller manages the state’s $180.7 billion pension fund, audits the spending practices of all state agencies and local governments, oversees the New York State and Local Retirement System, reviews the New York State and City budgets, and approves billions in State contracts and spending.

While not all criticism of Israel stemmed from anti-Semitism, Podhoretz contends the level of animosity towards Israel rises exponentially the farther left one moved along the spectrum.

When you grow up in a home where your parents went through what my parents went through, you realize that life has to be meaningful. You have to be there for other people.

“It’s a lousy column and a dishonest one,” Halberstam wrote. “So close it. Or you will end up just as shabby as Safire.”

Wye would be seen to have set the groundwork for the creation of a Palestinian state

These are not necessarily the best all-around biographies or studies of the individual presidents listed (though some rank right up there), but the strongest in terms of exploring presidential attitudes and policies toward Israel.

The Clintonan “engagement” liberals remember with such fondness did nothing but embolden Arafat and Hamas and Hizbullah as they witnessed Israel’s only real ally elevate process ahead of policy.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/media-monitor/au-revoir-harry-danning/2004/12/08/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: