web analytics
October 25, 2014 / 1 Heshvan, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



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.


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.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Israel's Minister of Defense Moshe Ya'alon, visiting the family of  IDF Golani Brigade soldier St.-Sgt. Oron Shaul in the northern village of Poria on August 10, 2014. Shaul was killed by Hamas in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge.
State Department Continues Grudge Match Against Ya’alon
Latest Indepth Stories
quiet

Introverts are more likely to pause, view the world from a distance, and think how to make it better

Lewis-102414-Nachal-Hareidi

I couldn’t see why I was different from Israeli boys my age. I too wanted to defend our country.

Eller-102414-Cart

I had to hire a babysitter so that I could go shopping or have someone come with me to push Caroline in her wheelchair.

Bills to restore the balance of power in Israel will be fought by the not-so-judicial left.

Widespread agreement in Israel opposing Palestinian diplomatic warfare, commonly called “lawfare.”

Arab terrorism against Jews and the State of Israel is not something we should be “calm” about.

The Israeli left, led by tenured academics, endorses pretty much anything harmful to its own country

We were devastated: The exploitation of our father’s murder as a vehicle for political commentary.

Judea and Samaria (Yesha) have been governed by the IDF and not officially under Israeli sovereignty

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.

n past decades, Oman has struck a diplomatic balance between Saudi Arabia, the West, and Iran.

The Torah scroll which my family donated will ride aboard the USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier

The Jewish Press endorses the reelection of Gov. Andrew Cuomo. His record as governor these past four years offers eloquent testimony to the experience and vision he has to lead the Empire State for the next four years.

I think Seth Lipsky is amazing, but it just drives home the point that newspapers have a lot of moving parts.

Myth #1: It is easy to be a B’nai Noach. It is extraordinarily hard to be a B’nai Noach.

More Articles from Jason Maoz
Front-Page-102414

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.

Assemblyman Hikind talks with a group of Israeli solders.

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.

What really makes one wonder about the affinity felt by certain Jews for Grant was the welcome mat he put out for some of the country’s most pernicious anti-Semites.

With 2013 marking half a century since Kennedy’s fateful limousine ride in Dallas, the current revels are exceeding the revisionist frenzies of years past, with a seemingly endless parade of books, articles and television specials designed to assure us that, despite everything that has come to light about him since his death, JFK was a great president, or at least a very good president who would have been great had his life not been so cruelly cut short.

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: