Thursday, July 30, 2015

Player being given a second chance seven years later

MIAMI—Adam Greenberg has faced one pitch in the major-leagues—a 92 m.p.h. fastball that struck him in the head and changed his life.
More than seven years later, the Miami Marlins are giving him a second chance.

The Marlins said yesterday that they have signed Greenberg to a one-day contract, effective Oct. 2, and will play him that day against the N.Y. Mets.
Greenberg made his big-league debut for the Chicago Cubs on July 9, 2005 against the Marlins, getting one plate appearance but no official at-bat.
“Life’s going to throw you curveballs—or fastballs in the back of your head,” Greenberg said on a conference call yesterday morning.
“I got hit by one of them. And it knocked me down and I could have stayed there.
“I had a choice . . . and I chose to get up and get back in the box,” he added.
The Marlins publicly extended the invitation to Greenberg on NBC’s “Today” show yesterday morning. But Greenberg said team president David Samson called him Sunday night to actually tell him of the team’s plans to sign him to a one-day deal.
“I’m extremely proud to extend this opportunity to Adam,” Marlins’ owner Jeffrey Loria said in a statement.
Greenberg, a left-handed batter, went to the plate as a pinch-hitter to face the Marlins’ Valerio De Los Santos with one out in the ninth inning of the Cubs-Marlins game.
De Los Santos’ first pitch sailed up and in, striking Greenberg in the back of the helmet—the force being such that the helmet flew off and the ball ricocheted up the third-base line.
Greenberg tumbled to the dirt, both hands holding the back of his head. He often has described that moment as feeling like “my head exploded.”
He awoke the next morning with symptoms of a concussion—unable to focus and feeling nauseous when seeing bright light.
After struggles in the minors the following season, the Cubs released him in June, 2006. Greenberg had chances with other minor-league teams, but never made the majors again.
Until now.
“I look forward to seeing Adam step up to the plate and realizing his comeback dream,” Loria said.
The Mets’ probable starter on Tuesday will be Cy Young candidate R.A. Dickey. Greenberg said the Marlins have not told him if he will start, pinch-hit, or play the field.
Greenberg is one of only two players in baseball history to be hit by a pitch in his first-and-only major-league appearance and never take the field—the other being Fred van Dusen, who endured that fate with Philadelphia back 1955.
Greenberg was the subject of a campaign called “One At Bat,” which lobbied teams to give him a second chance.
As of yesterday morning, nearly 25,000 people had signed the online petition urging any major-league club to give Greenberg an opportunity—since his first appearance in the majors did not count as an official at-bat, just merely a plate appearance.
“I just really want to make sure everyone understands that this is an amazing thing, for not just me but for a lot of people,” Greenberg said.
It is ironic how the Marlins have been involved in just about every aspect of Greenberg’s story.
His lone plate appearance for the Cubs came in Miami. When he played earlier this month for Israel’s entry in the qualifying round for the World Baseball Classic, he played and trained at the Marlins’ training complex in Jupiter, Fla.
And now his comeback game will be in Miami, albeit a different park than where he faced that fateful pitch seven years ago.
“Going back to the scene of the crime but a different location, I kind of look at it as a new stadium, new start,” reasoned Greenberg, who drew a walk in his lone plate appearance for Israel in the WBC qualifying games.
“For me, it’s just down the street but it’s a new opportunity,” he noted. “It’s really cool and special to have the Marlins, of course, recognize all of this.
“And to have it come full circle with them, it’s just so gratifying, rewarding, and special.”
The Marlins said Greenberg will donate his one-day salary—a pro-rated share of the minimum contract, about $3,000—to the team’s foundation, which will, in turn, donate to the Sports Legacy Institute, a group that furthers the study, treatment, and prevention of the effects of brain trauma in athletes and others.
Greenberg said he’s hopeful of getting a chance to play for some club in spring training next year.
He also insisted this is not a stunt, and that since his first trip to the majors in 2005 was earned, he hopes people doesn’t look at what’s happening next week as an undeserved gift.
“I’m no different or more special than anyone else,” Greenberg stressed. “It just so happened that my story was the Sunday Night Baseball game on ESPN and it was the first pitch I ever saw and I got hit in the back of the head.
“Tragedy for me, but it’s part of the game.”

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