There are three types of baseball players: those who make it happen, those who watch it happen, and those who wonder what happens. – Tommy Lasorda
Adam Greenberg was like many young American boys running around the local sandlot imitating his favorite idol with aspirations of playing major league baseball. However unlike many other boys Adam Greenberg got that chance not once but twice. Here is my interview with him:
The story starts on July 7, 2005 when the native of Connecticut was promoted from double-A to the major leagues by the Chicago Cubs. Prior to his call-up Greenberg was playing for the West Tennessee Diamond Jaxx of the Southern League. In 95 games Greenberg had posted a .269 average with four home runs and 15 stolen bases.
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The 24-year-old Greenberg was on the cusp on fulfilling his lifelong dream and eager to make an impression on the Cubs management. On the 9th of July in a game against the Florida Marlins, Cubs manager Dusty Baker called on the rookie to pinch hit in the ninth inning.
Greenberg stepped to the plate in his major league debut set to face Marlins pitcher Valerio de los Santos and unbeknownst to him this would be his last at bat in the major leagues for over seven years. De los Santos reared back and hurled a 92 mph fastball toward home plate that struck Greenberg in the back of his head sending his career and life in a downward spiral.
Greenberg faced a long road to recovery while struggling with the lasting effects of the concussion and vertigo suffered
from the injury however Greenberg persevered.
“Right after the injury, I couldn’t bend down to tie my shoes without the headaches coming back, so I couldn’t really visualize a path to making it back to the highest level of play. It was hard on me, and it was hard on my teammates and coaches, because they couldn’t really physically see anything wrong with me. When I finally grinded my way back to playing at my peak in professional baseball, every time I stepped back into the box was my most memorable triumph, just knowing what I had already overcome.”
Greenberg would return to minor league baseball in 2006 struggling in both double-A and triple-A eventually being released by the Chicago Cubs just a year shy of his injury. Greenberg would finish out the year with the Los Angeles Dodgers affiliate in double-A.
Greenberg would toil in the minors for the next six seasons playing mostly independent ball however still posting consistent numbers with an element of speed and excitement in his game.
Filmmaker Matt Liston latched onto the Greenberg story and launched the One More At Bat campaign garnering 25,000 names on a petition to pressure the MLB to allow Greenberg to sign a one-day contract. The initial thought was for Greenberg to sign with the Chicago Cubs earning the plate appearance with his original team.
Greenberg eventually became a household name and his story picked up steam after Greenberg signed a one day contract with the Miami Marlins worth $2,623 which was donated to Brain Trauma research in athletes.
The campaign was for Adam Greenberg to get credit for a major league at-bat something he was unable to accomplish in 2005.
After a media frenzy, the feel good story came full circle on October 2, when Adam Greenberg was once again a Major League player for one more game. Greenberg credits a veteran closer with making the transition smooth.
“Heath Bell came onto the field to introduce himself to me and told me to enjoy myself and that the Marlins were excited to have me as a member of their team. They were going to treat me as a member of the team.”
In the sixth inning, Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen called on Greenberg to lead off the inning.
“It’s just a whirlwind. Ozzie let me start off the sixth inning, and I walked out right at the end of the fifth. The crowd holding up their signs, and all my friends and family behind home plate. It was hard to step into the box, because you just don’t want that moment to end. I’m so incredibly grateful for everything the fans did for me that day, especially the moment that they created as I was just standing in the on-deck circle warming up. And after all that, I still had to play in a major league game!”
Greenberg once again stepped into the batter’s box and came face to face with the Mets ace R.A. Dickey, no easy feat in itself to hit a fluttering butterfly disguised as a baseball. Greenberg struck out swinging, but regardless it’s an at bat he will never forget.
“Obviously I expected the knuckleball, and so I was as ready as I could be, but it was just as tough as I thought. First pitch, the fans cheering, and I still had to concentrate, so I took it, and it broke right from my head to my chest. I knew RA would treat me like a Major Leaguer, and come at me with his best stuff, so after looking at the first one; I just dug in and tried to rip at the high ones. Unfortunately, I missed out, but I wouldn’t give any of them back.”
Greenberg will now attempt to get an invite to a major league spring training camp hopeful he has a foot in the door with the Marlins. Regardless of what the future holds the Greenberg story is the MLB feel good story of the year and offers hope for anyone with a dream. Greenberg offers this final piece of advice.
“I would say that it’s just never over-as long as you’re healthy and you still have the desire, truly anything is possible. You have to try 100 per cent, but as long as you do that, you’ll always have a window.
Go for your dream and never stop believing. Understand there will be obstacles that get in your way, however make sure you do whatever you can to overcome them.”
Here’s hoping Greenberg can stick with a big league club next season, because he is definitely the type of player who makes things happen.
Clayton Richer is a baseball writer for Baseball Hot Corner, his interviews and blogs can be found daily at www.baseballhotcorner.com as well you can also follow him on twitter MLBHotCorner