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Adam Greenberg finally gets his chance at the plate

Oct 2, 2012 - By Craig Blumenshine, Staff Writer

By the time you are reading this, chances are that Adam Greenberg will have completed his boyhood dream -- a dream tragically placed on hold seven years ago.

Like so many kids, Greenberg dreamed of being a big league baseball player. His story is one of the most popular in sports today.

Seven years ago, Greenberg became the only player in Major League history to have been hit by the very first pitch he saw in his first big league at bat and have his Major League career effectively ended by that first pitch.

Like other players with a Major League dream, Greenberg had worked his way through for three years in the minors, playing with the Lansing Lugnuts and the Daytona Cubs before he was called to pinch hit in the ninth inning of the Chicago Cubs game against the Marlins and was drilled. The video is hard to watch.

As he describes it, the greatest moment in his life was also the worst. Standing at home plate as a Chicago Cub against the Florida Marlins, the left handed hitter's life turned upside down when Marlins pitcher Valerio De Los Santos hit Greenberg in the head with his first pitch.

Diagnosed with a concussion, the effects of that one pitch lasted for years.

But Greenberg didn't give up.

"That's kind of the message to everyone. No matter what is going on in their own personal life, get back up. Keep going. And if you do that, good things do happen. Sometimes it takes seven years. But you know? Anything is possible and this just shows what's possible,'' Greenberg said in an interview with the Palm Beach Post.

Greenberg tried like crazy to get back to the majors, working again in baseball's minor league system. But dizziness and vision problems stood in the way.

Called a liar by a minor league coach after complaining of vision trouble -- the tragedy of brain injuries is that there are often no visible physical signs -- Greenberg kept trying.

In a bit of irony in 2011 while playing with the Bridgeport Bluefish, Greenberg stood in the box again against De Los Santos while playing in an Independent League game.

The first pitch that De Los Santos threw was right at Greenberg's hip before it broke across the plate.

"Game on," Greenberg thought, and he then drilled a base hit to right field.

"It was a big deal. As much as I might try to pretend it wasn't. It's been five and a half years, and to face him again in a game that meant something and get the result, to get a hit off him, it was a special moment. It brings things full circle.

You have the what-if stuff, 'what if he threw that first pitch for a strike five and a half years ago?' The fact is, it happened," he said after the game.

While playing sports at Guliford High School in Connecticut, Greenberg was not a one-sport wonder.

He excelled in baseball as a four-year letterman, but also lettered all four years in soccer and basketball.

Filmmaker Matt Liston, a big Cubs fan, sought to help Greenberg get back to the Majors when he started the One At-Bat campaign earlier this season.

Even though the effort garnered widespread national media attention and almost 25,000 signatures on an online petition, the Cubs, surprisingly, said no.

But the Miami Marlins and baseball commissioner Bud Selig said yes.

So tonight, Greenberg is scheduled to face R.A. Dickey and the New York Mets at Marlins Park in the second-to-last game of the season. The kid who paid his dues more so than most gets his day.

Good for him.

Have a great sports week. Go Big Red!

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