Adam Greenberg trying comeback

Updated: September 6, 2012, 10:19 AM ET
By Jon Greenberg | ESPNChicago.com

Former Chicago Cubs outfielder Adam Greenberg is willing to try anything to return to baseball, which is why he's going along with a filmmaker's website and video about his desire to get back to the big leagues after one fateful plate appearance gone wrong.

Chicago-born filmmaker Matt Liston (co-producer on the "30 for 30" film "Catching Hell") has started a film-backed campaign called "One At-Bat" to highlight Greenberg's story, complete with a downloadable poster and a Change.org campaign with more than 17,000 signing a petition to get the Cubs to give him an at-bat in their final series of the season.

"I'm not a charity case; I've played 10 professional baseball seasons," Greenberg, 31, said in a phone call from Connecticut. "Everyone needs a shot, whether it's in high school or college or in your minor league career. Everyone needs one. How it comes doesn't matter. What you do on the field propels you there."

Greenberg's story has resonated in baseball since July 9, 2005, when the recent Cubs call-up from Double-A was hit in the head by a pitch from Valerio de los Santos.

Greenberg, 24 at the time, never got an official at-bat in the majors. He ultimately was diagnosed with a form of vertigo, and after playing in the minors for three other organizations (Los Angeles Dodgers, Kansas City Royals and Los Angeles Angels), he never returned to the big leagues.

An appearance on "Outside the Lines" got Greenberg back in the news.

I'm not a charity case; I've played 10 professional baseball seasons. Everyone needs a shot, whether it's in high school or college or in your minor league career. Everyone needs one. How it comes doesn't matter. What you do on the field propels you there.

-- Adam Greenberg, who never got an official at-bat in the majors

In an email to the Chicago Tribune, Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said they aren't looking at granting Greenberg his wish. But Greenberg isn't just looking for an at-bat. He just wants a shot at affiliated baseball again.

"The best-case scenario is someone takes notice and says, 'Let's bring him to spring training and see if he can still play and bring something to our organization,' " Greenberg said.

While other players have shared Greenberg's statistical oddness, he is often compared to Archibald "Moonlight" Graham, the one-game, no at-bat player immortalized in the movie, "Field of Dreams."

Greenberg, who has been profiled by many media outlets over the years, said he often feels like a character in an anecdote.

"Talking about it so much, I've become a story," he said. "I don't feel like it's me, just some cool story I tell over and over. When I do speaking engagements, when people gasp, I feel that. It gives me chills, it's tough."

Drafted by the Cubs out of the University of North Carolina in 2002, Greenberg played his last season in affiliated baseball in 2008. He played 70 games for the Angels' Double-A team and batted .271 with a .361 on-base percentage. He has only 12 games of Triple-A experience.

Greenberg is a long shot in every sense of the word, but he espouses positivity.

"In a strange sort of way, I believe I'm going to make it back to the major leagues and play another game," he said.

Greenberg last went to spring training with Dusty Baker's Cincinnati Reds in 2009 and spent the next three years with the independent league Bridgeport Bluefish.

After last season, Greenberg decided to take some time off to start a nutritional products company, LuRong Living, and he is passionate about preaching health and wellness. But he knew he still would play again. He was invited to be part of the qualifying team for Team Israel's inaugural entry in the World Baseball Classic.

Greenberg hopes his shot with the Israel WBC team, managed by Brad Ausmus, can be a stepping-stone to getting an invite to camp. The four-team qualifying tournament begins Sept. 19, at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Fla. Greenberg was invited because major league players can't participate in the qualifying tournament.

And while he would have rather made it back to the majors earlier, Greenberg has learned to live with how his life has turned out and his one moment of fame.

"It's been a piece of me," he said. "I'm never going to escape it, no matter what. Whether I make it back or not, it's who I am. I'm looking at this as a platform. It's an opportunity to do something great. People will take notice."

Jon Greenberg

Columnist, ESPNChicago.com
Jon Greenberg is a columnist for ESPNChicago.com. He has lived and worked in Chicago since 2003, and is a graduate of Ohio University and the University of Chicago.