Adam Greenberg’s Second Coming as a Jewish Major Leaguer

January 4, 2013 5:42 pm 0 comments

Adam Greenberg's baseball card.

Adam Greenberg’s career in the Major Leagues seemingly came to an abrupt ending with just one pitch on July 9, 2005.

Making his major league debut for the Chicago Cubs as a pinch hitter, Greenberg strolled up to the batter’s box only to be hit directly in the back of his head seconds later by a 91-mph fastball thrown by Florida Marlins pitcher Valerio de los Santos.

“I thought my head was splitting in half, and I was trying to hold it together,” he said. Greenberg suffered a mild concussion, was immediately removed from the game, and spent the rest of the 2005 season on the disabled list.

After the Cubs released him in June 2006, Greenberg bounced around the minor leagues with several teams for a few years, and spent 2009-2011 playing for the Bridgeport Bluefish in the Independent Atlantic League.

Greenberg’s sad career took an optimistic twist last September when he got a chance to represent Israel in the World Baseball Classic qualifiers in Jupiter, Florida. Greenberg walked during his one at bat as a pinch hitter and scored on a single by Shawn Green during a game against South Africa.

“It was pretty cool, going out there, wearing ‘Israel’ across my chest,” Greenberg, who is Jewish,said. “And I know everyone in the locker room felt the same. It was a special day, a special moment.”

Those of us watching Greenberg bat during the qualifier game were filled with excitement as another Jewish underdog story played out in front of our own eyes.

I was lucky enough to be sitting in the row right above Israel’s dugout wearing my “Team Israel” baseball cap. Along with many other Jewish fans at Roger Dean Stadium that day, I stood and applauded Greenberg as he walked up to the plate for his one appearance.

Jewish baseball fans are always immensely proud when a Jew makes it to the Major Leagues, but it turns out that putting “Israel” on his chest might have signaled a miraculous second coming in Greenberg’s career. But that was only the start of what might be Adam Greenberg’s Second Coming as a Jewish Major Leaguer.

Thanks to an online campaign called “One At Bat” which urged a major league team to give Greenberg one more chance, Greenberg was signed to a one-day contract by the (now) Miami Marlins who sent him up as a pinch hitter on October 2 in a game against the New York Mets.

Greenberg was greeted by a rousing standing ovation by Marlins fans who embraced his story and his strong comeback effort. Though he struck out on three pitches, he returned to the Marlins dugout with an ear-to-ear smile and was welcomed by high-fives and hugs from his Marlins teammates for the day.

“It was magical,” he said. “The energy in the stadium was something I never experienced, and I don’t know if I will ever experience it again. You could just feel the genuine support. It was awesome.”

The most recent chapter of his comeback story was written earlier this month, more than seven years after his first ill-fated plate appearance, after he contacted Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter at the baseball winter meetings.

“I just walked up to him, introduced myself,” Greenberg said. “I’ve always kind of looked at Buck and said that would be the guy that I would love to play [for], that type of hard-nose mentality.”

After contacting general manager Dan Duquette and special assistant Brady Anderson, the Orioles signed Greenberg to a minor league contract, giving him a chance to resume his professional baseball career. But Greenberg knows that this might as well be his last chance to make a comeback.

“The last few years have been very, very difficult and challenging, but I got myself physically where I need to be and more important than anything, mentally I’m at a point in my career where I’m able to commit 110 percent back to the game,” he said. “To get the opportunity with the Orioles means everything to me.”

All of Greenberg’s fans are hoping that he makes it back into the major leagues as a member of the Orioles. But whatever happens, Greenberg’s story of resilience in recovering from his dramatic and nearly deadly debut continues to inspire people to keep chasing their dream no matter what obstacles are thrown in the way.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Book Reviews Personalities How a Jewish Leader With 3 Months to Live Created a ‘Seminar’ on Life

    How a Jewish Leader With 3 Months to Live Created a ‘Seminar’ on Life

    JNS.org – What would you do if you found out that you had only three more months to live? Gordon Zacks was a successful businessman, a leader of Jewish life, and a confidante and adviser to President George H.W. Bush. He knew that he had prostate cancer, but doctors advised him that it was very slow-growing and nothing to worry about. Then came the day when the doctors told him his cancer metastasized to his liver, and that he had [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Theater 10 Things I Learned From My Play About Holocaust Denial

    10 Things I Learned From My Play About Holocaust Denial

    Last month, my one-man show Hoaxocaust! Written and performed by Barry Levey with the generous assistance of the Institute for Political and International Studies, Tehran ran in the New York International Fringe Festival, where it won an Overall Excellence Award. The play has now been selected to run in the Fringe Encores Series at Baruch College’s Performing Arts Center, for four performances which started on Thursday, September 11. Getting the play to the stage was not easy, however. Here are [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Israel Israeli Music Producer Racks Up Over 535,000 YouTube Hits – in Two Days

    Israeli Music Producer Racks Up Over 535,000 YouTube Hits – in Two Days

    Phenomenon: Tel Aviv-based musician and “sampler” extraordinaire, Kutiman (aka Ophir Kutiel) has hit another one out of the park with “Give It Up,” a fully-functioning song in its own right, assembled from hundreds of ameteur and instructional music videos. The Jerusalem-born musical prodigy is best know for his diverse online musical projects. In the latest video, uploaded to YouTube on Sept. 12th, Kutiel thanked most of the musicians and individuals he chose to include in the meticulously-edited clip, which opens with [...]

    Read more →
  • Theater US & Canada Behind-the-Scenes Reel of Ridley Scott’s Moses Epic Shows Scenes Using 4000 Extras (VIDEO)

    Behind-the-Scenes Reel of Ridley Scott’s Moses Epic Shows Scenes Using 4000 Extras (VIDEO)

    A recently released behind-the-scenes reel of Ridley Scott’s upcoming film Exodus: Gods and Kings shows just how far the director has gone to portray one of the Bible’s most famous narratives. In the clip, which shows scenes involving up to 4,000 extras, the visionary director discusses what drew him to the biblical tale of Moses. “The Moses story was a massive challenge, which I really love. I wanted to explore the complexity of his character and I was stunned by [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Identity Turner Classic Movies Showcases ‘Broad Sweep’ of the Jewish Experience on Film

    Turner Classic Movies Showcases ‘Broad Sweep’ of the Jewish Experience on Film

    JNS.org – Since 2006, the Turner Classic Movies (TCM) cable and satellite TV network has hosted “The Projected Image,” a month-long showcase examining how different cultural and ethnic groups have been portrayed on the big screen. At last, after previously covering African Americans, Asians, the LGBT community, Latinos, Native Americans, Arabs, and people with disabilities, the annual series is delving into Jewish film this month. “The Projected Image: The Jewish Experience on Film,” whose first segment aired Sept. 2, runs [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Jewish Identity An Inside Look at the Hasidim (REVIEW)

    An Inside Look at the Hasidim (REVIEW)

    The sight of young girls in pinafores and young boys wearing peyos – sidelocks – dangling over their ears is a sure sign that you have entered the enigmatic precincts of the Hasidim – the pious ones. Veteran New York Times journalist Joseph Berger’s new book, THE PIOUS ONES: The World of Hasidim and their Battles with America, takes the reader on a journey into the enclaves where various sects of Jews live a seemingly outmoded way of life in [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Identity How Jewish Television Pioneer Milton Berle Inspired Modern Comedy Stars

    How Jewish Television Pioneer Milton Berle Inspired Modern Comedy Stars

    JNS.org – Today’s comedy superstars, especially those whose careers are driven by television, may very well owe their success to pioneering Jewish entertainer Milton Berle. Born Mendel Berlinger in Manhattan in 1908, Berle became America’s first small-screen star. Aptly nicknamed “Mr. Television,” he influenced and helped promote the work of hundreds of younger comics. “Milton Berle was deceptively successful and very Jewish,” says Lawrence Epstein, author of The Haunted Smile: The Story of Jewish Comedians in America, published the year [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Sports Jewish ‘Hoops Whisperer’ a Secret Weapon for NBA Stars

    Jewish ‘Hoops Whisperer’ a Secret Weapon for NBA Stars

    JNS.org – Idan Ravin’s friends chipped in to buy him a humble but life-changing bar mitzvah gift—a basketball hoop his father attached to the roof of his garage. Little did his friends know that years later, he would be the personal trainer of National Basketball Association (NBA) stars Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard, and Stephen Curry. Ravin’s new book, “The Hoops Whisperer: On the Court and Inside the Head of Basketball’s Best Players,” details his rise from a Jewish upbringing [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.