Adam Greenberg’s tale is only a baseball story, and viewed purely in the context of the pennant race it isn’t much of one. But forgive us if we take a few Sunday morning moments to note it with approval.
Greenberg is a 31-year-old who in 2005 climaxed what at the time looked to be a promising climb up the minor league ladder by being promoted to the Chicago Cubs big league team. Though never a great hitter in the minor leagues, he had shown an unusually adept eye in the batter’s box, he had speed, and he had an insatiable desire to succeed.
On July 9 of that year, Greenberg came to the plate against the Florida Marlins for his dream moment, his big league debut. That dream lasted only the time it took a Marlins pitcher to fire a first pitch fastball off Greenberg’s head. He sustained a concussion, left the game, and was released by Chicago at season’s end.
Initially, Greenberg harbored hopes that his injury was nothing more than a momentary setback in his road to a major league career. Events proved otherwise. “Just bending over to tie my shoe left me with headaches for hours,” he told reporters for MLB.com. For weeks, he said, he slept upright, the only way to tolerate the headaches. He has said he still suffers from positional vertigo
That hasn’t prevented Greenberg from spending much of the intervening six seasons playing ball for a team in Connecticut that is unaffiliated with any big league club. His closest brush with fame occurred a few years back when he played for Israel in international competition.
Now 31, Greenberg has given up on the dream of becoming a big league star…but he never has given up on the hope of returning for at least one more at bat. On Thursday, the Miami Marlins announced they will give Greenberg that chance this coming Tuesday, the season’s next to last day. He’ll be signed to a contract and penciled in to the lineup against the New York Mets and star pitcher R.A. Dickey.
This is one of those heartwarming, and maybe sappy, moments that baseball specializes in. Even among players with brief big league careers, his is an unusual story. He is one of only four position players in all of big league history to have been hit by a pitch in their only big league appearance, and although the records are in dispute on this point, he may have been the only one to have had that happen on the only pitch he ever saw.
It’s probably too much to ask that he drills the second big league pitch he ever sees for a home run, but we’ll be rooting for that outcome.