It was July 9, 2005 when Adam Greenberg stepped up to the plate. On Greenberg’s very first major league at-bat, with the first pitch he saw, he got a high, wild fastball moving at 92 mph that struck the back of his head. In that instant he fell to the ground, and he had to be helped off of the field and taken to the hospital.
His life changed drastically in a matter of seconds, and for years he was forced to deal with numerous concussion symptoms, headaches, dizzy spurs, double vision, and nausea because of one pitch. He also had to come to the realization that he might never be able to get back to the professional level, and to the level of playing that he was once at.
Since baseball is his passion, he rehabbed strenuously to get back to his regular capabilities, and he got back into the minors. This was an accomplishment in itself, but what he really wanted to do was return to the big leagues. Since his one and only at-bat was ended with his departure from the game, it was never actually considered a major league at-bat. Matt Liston, a local Chicago filmmaker, made it his duty to get Greenberg his earned at-bat.
He campaigned hard to get a team to give Greenberg just one at-bat, and even with 20,000 petition signatures on change.org, and endorsements from people such as Hall of Famer George Brett, he had no luck with the Cubs taking Greenberg back for one at-bat.
The Miami Marlins, however, heard about the story, and since their season was in no way going to be changed with the outcome of the game on October 2, they agreed to allow Greenberg’s request and give him one at-bat against the New York Mets. With the permission of MLB commissioner Bud Selig, they signed the now 31 year old Adam Greenberg to a one-day contract that would give him his long sought after second chance against a major league pitcher.
The Mets and Marlins’ game got underway with much of the talk being about Greenberg and about how remarkable his story was. The crowd seemed to grow more and more anxious to see Greenberg play, and in the bottom of the 6th inning, Greenberg’s number was called.
Greenberg’s time had come, but now he had to face one of the league’s finest, and the Cy Young favorite, R.A. Dickey. Greenberg looked confident and poised but like so many others this season, he went down swinging to Dickey. His hard work and effort had paid off, and he got his second chance which is such a remarkable thing to say.
Greenberg’s story was not only inspirational, but it was also a great lesson. Greenberg states, “Life’s going to throw you curveballs, or fastballs to the back of your head… I got hit by one of them. It knocked me down, and I could have stayed there. I had a choice, and I could have said, ‘Poor me, that’s horrible.’ But I chose to get up and get back in the box… And that’s kind of the message to everyone: no matter what is going on in their own personal life, or anything, get back up, keep going. If you do that, good things do happen. Sometimes it takes seven years. But you know what? Anything is possible.”