The Miami Marlins offered Adam Greenberg one more chance in the major leagues on Thursday morning's edition of NBC's "Today" show. The 31-year-old quickly accepted the team's one-day contract, setting up a full-circle ending to what has been an interesting story. Greenberg is scheduled to face R.A. Dickey and the New York Mets at Marlins Park next Tuesday in the second-to-last game of the season.
You might know his story: Greenberg was only 24 years old and a new member of the Chicago Cubs when he stepped into the batter's box for his first major-league at-bat. But the moment soon soured when Marlins pitcher Valerio De Los Santos hit Greenberg in the head with his first pitch. Greenberg exited the game and ongoing concussion problems over the years put the Connecticut native in an unfortunate and select group as he struggled (and failed) to reach the majors again. Only four position players in baseball history have been hit with a pitch in their only plate appearance and Greenberg was the only one to be hit with the first ball that was thrown.
Filmmaker Matt Liston, a big Cubs fan, sought to remove Greenberg from that list when he started the One At-Bat campaign earlier this season. But despite a slick video (below), widespread national media attention and almost 25,000 signatures on an online petition, the Cubs said thanks, but no thanks.
One of the big stumbling blocks appeared to be the fact that Major League Baseball does not give out one-day contracts. That meant Greenberg — whose most recent baseball experience was playing for Team Israel's failed World Baseball Classic bid — would have to displace an actual prospect off someone's 40-man roster, something that was neither fair nor had any shot of happening.
But baseball commissioner Bud Selig has apparently given his approval to an exception for Greenberg. And so the outfielder will get his one chance to record an official at-bat in the same city where his big-league dreams effectively died, playing for the same team that they ended against. It's kind of appropriate, in a way.
I'm sure there's going to be plenty of people crying about the decision, saying that it will affect the integrity of the game or that they never received a big-league at-bat. Others will cast a suspicious glance at the dream granters and assume this is just one more way for Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria and team president David Samson to wring out some good PR for themselves before their train wreck of a season ends.
But while all those objections have some validity to them, I choose to focus on the fact that it's going to occur in a game that has no impact on the postseason race and would have attracted zero attention had the Marlins not decided to give Greenberg one last chance. I'm in the non-cynical camp that believe Greenberg deserves it after putting in all those long years on minor-league buses after receiving one of the rawest deals in recent memory.
Is the moment manufactured? Is it hokey? Maybe to some of us. But it's clearly not to Greenberg and here's hoping he enjoys and makes the best of the opportunity.
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