web analytics
May 27, 2015 / 9 Sivan, 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
Russian S-300 surface-to-air missile systems deployed in a military exercise.
Russia to Deliver S-300 Missile System to Iran… Eventually
Latest Indepth Stories
Rabbi Lichtenstein (z"l).

On his shloshim, I want to discuss a term I’ve heard countless times about Rav Aharon: Gedol HaDor

Abbas and Obama

After obsequious claims of devotion to Israel, Obama took to criticizing Israel to on peace process

Ronal Shoval Voting

Mr. Obama, Israeli voters have democratically chosen to apply Israeli sovereignty over Judea&Samaria

Ayelet Shaked

Netanyahu so disdains Shaked’s appointment he completely ignored her after the swearing-in ceremony

Ronen Shamir’s just the latest tenured Leftist convicted of sexual misconduct with his own student

NY Times precious front page ink is only reserved for portrayals of Israel as the aggressor.

Although I loved law school, I doubted myself: Who would come to me, a chassidish woman lawyer?

American Jews who go gaga for Obama are first and foremost “Liberals of the Mosaic Persuasion”

“Illinois is the first state to take concrete, legally binding action against the BDS campaign”

Many books have supported the preferability- not to be confused with desirability- of the status quo

Consider the Pope’s desperation, reading daily reports of the slaughter of Christians by Muslims

The contrast between a Dem pretending to love Israel & a Dem who truly loves Israel is CRYSTAL CLEAR

Pentecost, derived from the Greek word for 50, is celebrated 50 days after Easter.

U.S and European demands for the creation of a Palestinian State in the West Bank is world hypocrisy.

We take a whole person approach, giving our people assistance with whatever they need.

During my spiritual journey I discovered G-d spoke to man only once, to the Jewish people at Sinai

More Articles from Jason Maoz
Front-Page-051515

Some of the president’s defenders took to arguing that the overwhelming majority of German military personnel interred in Bitburg were regular Wehrmacht soldiers who died on the battlefield and likely were not involved in atrocities against civilians.

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.

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.

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: