Sept 2003, By Rob Dinerman Â© 2002 SquashTalk
Photos: Â© 2001 SquashTalk
Scion of Hall of Famer
Hank Greenberg Went His Own Way
|Glenn Greenberg was always an imposing presence on court.
© SquashTalk LLC
One of metropolitan
New York’s most formidable regional fixtures, and arguably the region’s most
dominant amateur player during his prime years in the late 1970’s, big Glenn
parlayed his imposing physical presence and relentless competitive determination
into two New York State titles (’78 and ’79), two Met A championships (also
’78 and ’79), a total of nine regional MSRA finals and a
pair of placements in the top four of the USSRA national rankings.
scion of the legendary Hall Of Fame home run hitter Hank Greenberg and
the older brother of former major league baseball deputy commissioner
Stephen, Glenn was a first-team all-Ivy defensive tackle on Yale’s great
Brian Dowling-Calvin Hill teams of the late 1960’s (where he and equally
large sidekick Bob Greenlee formed the Valley Of The Jolly Green Giants)
and was selected in the 1968 draft by the Cleveland Browns.
had spent a number of his grade-school years in Cleveland while Hank had
been general manager of the Indians, but he chose not to pursue a career
in pro football, moving back instead to his native New York that fall
and taking up squash during the next several years while earning an MBA
at Columbia Business School. After winning the Met B (and receiving the
Bob Lehman end-of-season "Most Improved Player Award") in ’72,
Greenberg garnered the first of his six consecutive top-10 national rankings
in ’75, when his comeback five-game semi-final win over Penn all-American
Joe Swain and subsequent three-game final over Len Bernheimer gained him
the John Jacobs trophy and gave the squash world an early sign of the
powerful forehand drives and intense aura (highly reminiscent of the no-nonsense
attitude which his father had always exuded on the baseball diamond) that
would become his trademarks.
to his ability to generate pace, Greenberg also possessed surprising mobility
for a man his size, particularly after de-bulking and dropping 30 pounds
from his gridiron days, though one aspect of the Greenberg persona that
did survive the remarkable transition between these highly differing sports
was a football-derived willingness, even eagerness, to mix it up around
the T. Though he was deservedly known as a clean player, his on-court
style was rugged and aggressive enough to make opponents think twice about
being overly assertive while jockeying for position; especially when a
match heated up, as it often did during that hectic period in squash’s
expansion; no one engaged in turf wars with Glenn Greenberg.
latter quality belied a tactical shrewdness that was sometimes overlooked
and/or under-rated by squash aficionados; he was especially good about
mixing up his rail and three-walls, and his anticipation and ability to
divine his opponent’s intentions carried him through many of his close
victories, as did the mental toughness he displayed in those crucial points
that so often determine the outcome of a long and wearing battle. These
traits emerged week-in and week-out in a slew of solid wins that consistently
brought Greenberg deep into the draws of the major amateur invitationals,
as well as in a number of airtight wins over well-ranked WPSA professionals,
among which were his five-game ’79 Met A final over Stew Grodman, his
fifth-game tiebreaker win in the
Boston Open over Charlie Khan and especially his back-from-the-dead rally
from 9-14 to 17-14 in the fifth game of his ’79 Metropolitan Open quarter-final
with the heavily-favored WPSA No. 9 Larry Hilbert.
to winning the ’75 Jacobs and the ’76 Trenton Invitational (where he rallied
from 0-2 to defeat John Bottger Sunday morning and then dominated long-time
rival Gil Mateer in the final that afternoon), Greenberg also received
the ’79 Edwin Bigelow Trophy "For Excellence In Play" and won
multiple club championships at both the University Club and the Yale Club,
and last such title occurred in the spring of ’87, shortly after his 40th
birthday and soon after his season-long performance at No. 1 had brought
the Yalies to the Met A league crown. Appropriately enough, in his last
competitive match in the early spring of ’91, by which time he was 44
and struggling with a bad disc problem in his back, Greenberg contributed
a crucial play-off win
over a much-younger opponent to yet another Yale Club surge to the league
time, Greenberg, now 56, had experienced great success in business as
managing general partner of a highly respected mid-town investment advisory
firm, Chieftain Capital Management, which he co-founded 20 years ago.
His many years of intensely competitive athletics have taken their toll
in the form of major injuries to his knees, back and both shoulders, but
the next Greenberg generation is already preparing to make its mark. This
seems especially true of Duncan Greenberg, the youngest of Glenn’s three
sons, who is captain of his high-school soccer team and a star on the
baseball team, where as an outfielder he is playing the same position
that his famous grandfather played for the Detroit Tigers when on the
final day of the 1945 season he hit the
ninth-inning grand-slam home run that erased a 4-3 deficit and propelled
his team to the American League pennant and ultimately to the World Series
victory that followed over the Chicago Cubs.
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