Sunday, April 09, 2006

Tough Jews

Tough Jews, an excellent book by Rich Cohen. Talie's a Tough Jew. There was an article about the oldest living ballplayer being 100 year old Dr. Howard Groskloss. No mention on the web as whether he is a member of the "tribe" or not. He'd be one tough Jew if he made it to 100. The late Marshall Goldberg, who died a few days ago, certainly was. Here's the article on Howard: Oldest Ex-Player Nears 100. Tomorrow is a big day for the oldest living former major league player. Dr. Howard Groskloss, known as Howdy, turns 100. Some baseball encyclopedias say Groskloss, who played second base, was born April 9, and some say he was born in 1907. But Groskloss and his 80-year-old wife, Mary, confirmed the other day that he was born April 10, 1906. He became the oldest former player when Ray Cunningham died last July six months beyond his 100th birthday. Groskloss, a Pittsburgh native, played in 72 games for the Pirates from 1930-32, but baseball was only a sidelight for him. In his real life, he was an obstetrician-gynecologist. "I played for the Pirates during the summer while going to medical school," he said. "I had my mind on medicine, and my life was medicine, not baseball. I wasn't making baseball my career. I was just carrying on some of my fun playing. I enjoyed playing for the Pirates." Groskloss was a star athlete at Amherst College, playing baseball, football, basketball and tennis and competing in track. A 1930 graduate, he was voted the most outstanding Amherst athlete of the half-century. The award, a silver cup, was presented to him by Calvin Coolidge, whose son, he said, was his roommate. Planning to go to Yale medical school, Groskloss turned down a Rhodes scholarship, but Jewel Ens, the Pittsburgh manager, recruited him to play for the Pirates. Groskloss's most active season was 1931, when he batted .280 and drove in 20 runs in 53 games and 161 at-bats. During a telephone conversation, he had his wife get a picture of one of his Pirates teams and he recalled playing with, among others, the Waner brothers, Paul and Lloyd; Pie Traynor; and Gus Suhr. He also played with Arky Vaughn, who with the Waners and Traynor is in the Hall of Fame.
Groskloss said that after the Pirates, he played with another Hall of Famer, Honus Wagner, on Wagner's semipro team.
"I finished my medical education while playing for the Pirates," he said. "I carried on my medical internship at the University of Pennsylvania hospital and came back to the University of Pittsburgh medical school and taught there." Groskloss went into private practice as an obstetrician-gynecologist in Miami, retired in 1979 and moved to Vero Beach, Fla.

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