web analytics
March 1, 2015 / 10 Adar , 5775
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post


Victor Zalta’s Unforgettable Encounter

Victor Zalta poses with Hank Greenberg in 1946 in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Victor Zalta poses with Hank Greenberg in 1946 in St. Petersburg, Florida.

It won’t be long before the Cactus and Grapefruit Leagues are in full swing.

The 15 big league teams that train in Arizona make up the Cactus League while the 15 in Florida comprise the Grapefruit League.

If you’re visiting spring training sites, Arizona has two advantages – fewer games are rained out and the facilities are much closer to each other than is the case in Florida.

The closest Florida spring training site to my winter dugout in West Palm Beach’s Century Village is in Jupiter, about 12 miles north. There’s a game scheduled every day as the Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals both call Roger Dean Stadium home. It’s the only ballpark in Florida shared by two big league teams.

Roger Dean Stadium is the busiest ballpark in professional baseball. Four minor league teams share the facility. The Marlins’ and Cardinals’ rookie-level clubs of the Gulf Coast League and their Class A affiliates of the Florida State League play there. The stadium also hosts college ball and an Independent League club.

I hope to see several exhibition games and some early regular-season games in Miami before heading north to Pennsylvania where I’ll be among the roster of speakers at a hotel in Lancaster for Pesach.

Those of us who’ve had the good fortune of taking in a spring training game or even a free workout practice – they typically wrap up in the early afternoon, giving one the opportunity to get up close with players, coaches and managers – have special memories.

I’ll bet that eighty-two-year-old Victor Zalta of Brooklyn has us all beat when it comes to spring training memories, particularly one from 1946, when he was a teenager.

Victor’s father had a retail store St. Petersburg. It was difficult for an Orthodox family; there was no Orthodox minyan in town. They looked forward to spending some of the yom tovim in Brooklyn. Victor also looked forward to spring training in St. Pete.

The St. Louis Cardinals and the New York Yankees trained in St. Petersburg at the time. The Cardinals had the nicer Al Lang Field on the waterfront while the Yankees were stationed at the shabbier Miller Huggins Field a few miles away.

Practice sessions before the exhibition season started were great opportunities for youngsters seeking an autograph or any kind of interaction with players.

“They didn’t have security then,” Victor recalls. “I could sneak right into the dugout and go right up to a player, which I did many times.”

Victor remembers the Cardinals’ Stan Musial as one of the really good guys. “He was a beautiful man,” he says.

“Joe DiMaggio, on the other hand, was mean to me. He called me a ‘punk.’ He told me never to bother him, not even to go near him.”

The one player Victor wanted to talk to and possibly even pose for a photograph with was Hank Greenberg. When the Tigers came to St. Pete to play the Yankees, Victor caught up to the Detroit slugger after the game. But Greenberg kept walking, saying he had to catch the team bus.

“Please, please,” pleaded Victor.

Greenberg just quickened his pace, at which point Victor blurted out, “But…I’m Jewish, too, like you.”

Greenberg stopped and, recalls Victor, “grinned from ear to ear.” The team bus waited while the greatest Jewish baseball hero of all time posed for a picture with his young fan.

Sixty-eight years later the memory is still fresh, even if the picture is a little faded.

About the Author: The author of 10 books, Irwin Cohen headed a national baseball publication for five years and interviewed the legendary Hank Greenberg. He went on to work for a major league team and became the first Orthodox Jew to earn a World Series ring. He can be reached in his Detroit area dugout at irdav@sbcglobal.net.


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 “Victor Zalta’s Unforgettable Encounter”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife at Ben Gurion Airport as they depart for the US on March 1, 2015, ahead of Netanyahu's speech on Tuesday, before a joint session of Congress.
Netanyahu’s Speech to Congress – Blocked from U.S. Prime Time, Perfect for Israel
Latest Sections Stories
Golan Wine Medals

‘Double Gold’ awarded to 2012 Yarden Heights wine & 2011 Yarden Merlot Kela Single Vineyard.

Niehaus-022715

One should not give the money before Purim morning or after sunset.

Mendlowitz-022715-Basket

The mishloach manos of times gone by were sometimes simple and sometimes elaborate, but the main focus was on the preparation of the delicious food they contained.

Astaire-022715-Countryside

One of the earliest special Purims we have on record was celebrated by the Jews of Granada and Shmuel HaNagid, the eleventh-century rav, poet, soldier and statesman, and one of the most influential Jews in Muslim Spain.

Jews, wake up! Stop educating the world and start educating yourselves.

The lessons conform to the sensitivities and needs of the Orthodox community…

The program took on special significance as it marked not only the first anniversary of Rebbetzin Kudan’s levayah but also the 27th yahrzeit of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson, a”h.

It captures the love of the Jewish soul as only Shlomo Hamelech could portray it – and as only Rabbi Miller could explain it.

Erudite and academic, drawing from ancient and modern sources, the book can be discussed at the Shabbos table as well as in kollel.

I’m here to sit next to you and help you through this Purim with three almost-too-easy mishloach manot ideas, all made with cost-conscious paper bags.

Kids want to be like their friends, and they want to give and get “normal” mishloach manos stocked with store-bought treats.

Whenever he did anything loving for me, I made a big deal about it.

“OMG, it’s so cute, you’re so cute, everything is so cute.”

A program that started with a handful of volunteers has grown exponentially to include students from a wider array of backgrounds.

More Articles from Irwin Cohen
Baseball-logo-NEW

A famous face from that first ’52 Topps set was Alvin Dark, who died in his South Carolina home recently at 92.

Baseball-Insider

As the years flew by, one thing remained constant in Sid’s life – the New York Yankees.

During 1939, anti-Semitic groups such as Fritz Kuhn’s German American Bund held rallies in New York and other major cities across the country.

The two World Series combatants, the Kansas City Royals and the San Francisco Giants, were Wild Card teams (meaning they didn’t win their respective divisions) that got hot at the right time.

Many former baseball players who left us with happy memories also passed away in the past year.

“No kid is worth a million dollars to sign,” Newhouser said, “but if one kid is, it’s this kid.”

Zimmer was popular with veteran teammates like Roy Campanella, Gil Hodges, Pee Wee Reese and Duke Snider – and with a rookie lefthander named Sandy Koufax.

I’m sure readers noticed those full-page advertisements that ran prior to last month’s meeting about the situation at the Brooklyn home of Rabbi Moshe Tuvia Lieff, rav of Agudas Yisroel Bais Binyomin. Avrohom chaired the even along with his brother Menachem, a prominent askan and the president of Lubicom.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/sports/baseball-insider/victor-zaltas-unforgettable-encounter/2014/02/13/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: