Adam Greenberg, who was struck in the head by the only pitch he faced in Major League Baseball and has not played since, is being given a second chance seven years down the line, with the Miami Marlins to play him in an upcoming game.
The Marlins said on Thursday that they have signed Greenberg to a one-day contract, effective on 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 on Thursday. “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 TV on Thursday morning, although Greenberg said team president David Samson had called him last weekend to tell him of the team’s plans.
“I’m extremely proud to extend this opportunity to Adam,” Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria said in a statement.
Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said Greenberg may start.
“I might start him in left field and have him lead off,” Guillen said on Thursday. “If he hits a home run, he stays.”
In his fateful at-bat in 2005, Greenberg, a left-handed batter, went to the plate as a pinch hitter to face the Marlins’ Valerio De Los Santos. The 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 nauseated when seeing bright light.
After struggles in the minor leagues 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.
“They’re trying to give this kid a dream come true,” Guillen said. “Why not give the kid a chance to be what he wants to be?”
Guillen said he has had a couple days to consider the best way to use Greenberg. He thinks it will be better to have Greenberg start than to find the right place in the game to come in as a pinch hitter.
“It’s more important to me to win the game,” Guillen said.
Greenberg was the subject of a campaign called “One At Bat,” which lobbied teams to give him a second chance.