Thursday, September 27, 2012
Adam Greenberg to get 2nd chance
By Willie Weinbaum Special to ESPN.com
If F. Scott Fitzgerald had envisioned Adam Greenberg, he might never have said, "There are no second acts in American lives."
Seven years, two months and 24 days after Greenberg's major league career began and seemed over on just one pitch, the now-31-year-old outfielder is to get another plate appearance on Tuesday, thanks to the Miami Marlins and a long-shot national campaign initiated by an imaginative fan on a lark.
Adam Greenberg faces Valerio de los Santos on July 9, 2005. Greenberg was felled by a pitch to the head in his only major league at-bat to date.
"I'm ready," Greenberg said on the NBC "Today" show Thursday, holding back tears as David Samson, general manager of the last-place Marlins, offered him a one-day contract.
The Marlins received approval from MLB commissioner Bud Selig to give Greenberg a plate appearance next week. Miami will host the New York Mets, who are scheduled to start knuckleballer R.A. Dickey.
Greenberg told ESPN by phone after his "Today" appearance that he found out about the Marlins' plans after 11 p.m. Sunday, following Team Israel's loss to Spain in qualifying competition for the World Baseball Classic. Greenberg saw brief action with Team Israel.
"More than anything," Greenberg said, "the Marlins deserve the attention for this. They didn't do it for publicity.
"They said they didn't follow my story and that after Matt brought it to their attention, they sent their scouts to see me," Greenberg added. "I was at their spring training facility (in Jupiter, Fla., where Team Israel also trained) for almost two weeks. They said they believe in hard work, perseverance and that anything is possible. I believe that genuinely."
On the first and only pitch the left-handed-hitting Greenberg faced in the majors on July 9, 2005, he was struck by Marlins left-hander Valerio De Los Santos in the back of the head with a 92-mph fastball. Greenberg, then playing for the Chicago Cubs, fell to the ground. Moments after the thrill of stepping to the plate as a pinch hitter in the ninth inning, he had to be helped from the field and taken to the hospital.
In the days, months and years that followed that ninth-inning appearance, Greenberg dealt with post-concussion syndrome, dizziness, severe headaches, double vision, nausea and eventually the reality that the minor leagues might be the highest level of baseball he'd ever attain, other than that one fleeting experience in the majors.
But the Guilford, Conn., native continued to pursue his dream of a return, as he played for several minor league teams, most recently the independent Bridgeport Bluefish. In a game last year against the Long Island Ducks, he singled against -- of all people -- De Los Santos in their first matchup since the 2005 beaning. Greenberg did not play this season except for his time in September with Team Israel. In his only at-bat, Greenberg drew a walk and later scored.
For months, filmmaker Matt Liston conducted an online drive to get a team to give Greenberg an at-bat, first focusing his efforts on his favorite ballclub, the Cubs. Despite a compelling video, endorsements from the likes of Hall of Famer George Brett and more than 20,000 petition signatures at change.org, the efforts of Liston and co-campaigner Gary Cohen, a documentarian, failed to sway Chicago's management. But the Marlins, with time running out on the season, embraced the opportunity as a win-win for Greenberg and the team whose hurler abruptly ended his first major league career.
Greenberg agreed to a request by "Today" host Matt Lauer to return to the show, no matter how the plate appearance turns out.
"It's nice for him. Obviously it wasn't a fit for us but I wish him the best," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Thursday. "It will be a cool thing for him. It will be a fitting day for him. I wish him all the best."
Greenberg has committed to donate his one-day salary to the Marlins Foundation, which will then make a donation to the Sports Legacy Institute, an organization that advances the study, treatment and prevention of the effects of brain trauma in athletes and other at-risk groups.
William Weinbaum is a producer for ESPN's Outside the Lines.