Yankee Stadium, Sept. 14, 1935, the Detroit Tigers came to town for a double header. Hank Greenberg, a native New Yorker, and the first formidable Jewish baseball player did not gather a hit in either game and struck out five times.
In the 1998 film, The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg, his son Stephen detailed the indescribable sadness his father felt upon returning from the host stadium of his childhood heroes and favorite team.
The New York American chronicled the day, "The hooting and jeering which some of the fans turned loose against Hank wasn't much of a tribute to the sportsmanship of his home town."
Even as tens of thousands European Jews escaped to Ellis Island from what was becoming a mass genocide, Yankee fans bombarded Greenberg with earfuls of anti-Semitic insults.
Did the 1935 Yankee fans feel a sense of entitlement regarding the AL Pennant?
When a team gets so accustomed to winning year-in and year-out, it is only natural for expectations to be high. What is not natural, and actually quite baffling, is the treatment of a native son on a day where he contributed nothing in either game of the twin bill.
It is interesting to compare the Yankee fans of yesteryear to their modern day counterparts. Of course any fan who would scream anything remotely racist or anti-Semitic these politically correct days would be escorted out and given a lifetime ban.
But does that sense of entitlement remain?
Maybe. Maybe not. It is impossible to judge while the Yankees are amongst the league leaders each year. A few years of mediocrity, and the answer will become evident.
One thing is for certain.
There will never be a day remotely close to that 74 years ago when a home town Jewish kid struck out five times, got no hits, but was still the object of "hooting and jeering"—much of which blasted his race/religion—while at the same time the same group of human beings were being terrorized and brutally murdered on the other side of the Atlantic.