Seven years ago, Chicago Cub Adam Greenberg stepped into the batter’s box to pinch-hit in the ninth inning of a game against the Florida Marlins. It was his first major league at-bat.
The first pitch he saw was a 92-mile-an-hour fastball from Valerio de los Santos, and he did not see it long. It struck him just below his right ear.
“I lost control of my eyes and thought my head was split open,” Greenberg said Thursday. “I kept saying, ‘Stay alive,’ and just repeated that. That will never leave me. But it doesn’t haunt me.”
Greenberg sustained vision problems and vertigo. He played 674 more games through 2011, all in the minors and most for the independent Bridgeport Bluefish in Connecticut, his home state.
Seven years and hundreds of minor league and independent games later, Greenberg is getting an unlikely second chance after being signed to a one-day contract with the (newly renamed) Miami Marlins this week. He will return to the big leagues on Tuesday night for a game against the New York Mets. (Greenberg also represented the Israeli team in their recent quest to make the World Baseball Classic.)
And, for the nicest flourish, Greenberg has already announced he will be donating his big league paycheck to “an organization that studies the effects of brain trauma in athletes.”
Keep an eye out for the game!
Adam Chandler was previously a staff writer at Tablet. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, Slate, Esquire, New York, and elsewhere. He tweets @allmychandler.