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Second Chance At Major Leagues For Guilford Man Hit By Pitch Seven Years Ago

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Adam Greenberg, file photo, 2005 (Jed Jacobsohn/GettyImages)

Adam Greenberg, file photo, 2005 (Jed Jacobsohn/GettyImages)

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By TIM REYNOLDS, AP Sports Writer

MIAMI (AP) _ Adam Greenberg has faced one pitch in the major
leagues, a 92 mph 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 Thursday that they have signed Greenberg to a
one-day contract, effective Oct. 2, and will play him that day
against the New York 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 Thursday
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.”

The Marlins publicly extended the invitation to Greenberg on
NBC’s “Today” show Thursday morning. However, 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 has often 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 next 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 in 1955.

Greenberg was the subject of a campaign called “One At Bat,”
which lobbied teams to give him a second chance. As of Thursday
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.

He and Marlins outfielder Justin Ruggiano once were teammates
with the Double-A Jacksonville Suns, playing together there in
2006.

“Woke up (this) morning to find out Adam Greenberg and I will
be teammates again this year! Dude can play,” Ruggiano wrote on
Twitter early Thursday. “Looking forward to Oct. 2.”

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,” said 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. 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.”

Greenberg faced De Los Santos again in 2011, hitting a single
off him as a member of the Bridgeport Bluefish in the independent
Atlantic League.

The Marlins say 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 that 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
said. “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.”

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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