People Only Dream Of A Second Chance Like This

People Only Dream Of A Second Chance Like This

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Adam Greenberg defied the odds and played baseball for a major league team. Or did he? Read the remarkable story of a history-making ballplayer who stepped to the plate on Wrigley Field, but was stopped from playing the game.

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1. Making The Pros Ain’t Easy

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Kids grow up wanting to be professional baseball players. Or astronauts or firefighters. The later, it seems, are more probable. According to a 2013 NCAA study, only 2% of college athletes wind up playing professional ball. That’s college athletes. For high school baseball players who hope to get drafted, the percentage drops to about .5%, or 1/200. And guess where they go…

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2. The Minor Leagues

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Those who make it to the professional level enter the minor leagues, usually at the bottom. There are roughly 6,000 minor league players, as each major league outfit has seven minor affiliates to funnel to the pool of approximately 750 major leaguers the best from the bush league. The minors are as far as most top-notch ballplayers reach.

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3. Getting To The Minors

Before Adam Greenberg’s debut with the Chicago Cubs, he was a star in high school, and at UNC he had an amazing career as a Tar Heel. Then the Chicago Cubs drafted him. He spent 3+ grueling years in their bush league. Grinding it out daily, he got better and better, and he ascended from league to more elite league until…

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4. Adam Gets The Call

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On July 7, 2005, Adam Greenberg became a member of the 2%. He got the call every wannabe ballplayer dreams about. He was invited up to “The Show.” The Chicago Cubs were playing the Florida Marlins. Two days later, Greenberg was sitting in the visitors’ dugout with his new teammates. Inning after inning he waited…until the top of the ninth: the Cubs’ final at bat.

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5. You’re Up, Kid

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Dusty Baker gave Greenberg the nod to pinch hit. He stepped into the batter’s box, ready. It was his moment. The Marlins’ pitcher, Valerio de los Santos, gave Greenberg an inside fastball. He probably intended to rattle the rookie with the first pitch and make him nervous to dig in against a big league pitcher. But…

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6. A Loud, Echoing Thud

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The pitch misfired and headed straight for Greenberg’s face. At the last possible instant, Greenberg spun around, exposing the back of his head to the fastball. The hardball hit Greenberg behind the ear at 92 mph. Teammate, Matt Murton, described the sound as “a loud, echoing thud.” It was so scary, the opposing catcher threw off his mask and rushed to Greenberg’s aid.

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7. He’s Down

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De Los Santos sickened when he realized his pitch connected with the batter’s head, just under the lip of the helmet. He thought Greenberg was a dead man. Adam Greenberg lay on the ground in excruciating pain, holding the back of his head believing his hands were literally holding his head together.

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8. Bad News

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Was one pitch the end of the story for Adam Greenberg? Actually, it was just the beginning. Sure, Adam was diagnosed with a concussion (before concussions became a hot topic in American sports). He developed positional vertigo and couldn’t even tie his shoes without getting a massive headache for hours. But there was something else. A beginning…

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9. Matt Liston

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Meet Matt Liston, a fanatical baseball fan and filmmaker. A few years later, Liston wanted to get Adam another chance because his first attempt was not an official “at bat.” He wanted to get Adam in the record books as a professional major leaguer, and the only way to do that was to get Adam up to the plate again…for one at bat. He got the inspiration from none other than Charlton Heston.

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10. One At Bat

Kevin Costner holding Gaby Hoffmann in a scene from the film ‘Field Of Dreams’, 1989. (Photo by Universal/Getty Images)
Kevin Costner holding Gaby Hoffmann in a scene from the film ‘Field Of Dreams’, 1989. (Photo by Universal/Getty Images)

Liston wanted to rally an army of fans to help Adam Greenberg get “One At Bat.” He got the idea after watching the movie, Field of Dreams. In it, Moonlight Graham, played by Charlton Heston, complains that he wished he could have gotten just one at bat as a major leaguer, having only played the field. This gave Liston the idea for Greenberg, even though he did not personally know the man.

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11. Greenberg’s Grit

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Liston knew Greenberg was still playing ball. In fact, Adam was batting again 21 days after his injury, even though he had to sleep sitting up and if he looked down to pick up a rolling ball, his eyes would shift from side to side. The following year, his symptoms subsided, and he was with a new team…

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12. The Minors, Again

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Adam bopped around the minors and other teams for a handful of years, working hard and training even harder, having shaken off any reservations about getting hit by a pitch again. But, he was getting older, and his dream of playing in the majors was sailing away from him like one of his deep fly balls. That’s when Liston began his work, rallying a nation.

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13. Excitement Builds

Matt Liston took to Twitter to enlist the help of a graphic designer, and he got none other than Nicole Belopotosky. She designed this catchy poster that Liston plastered all over Chicago to form his army. He took to the airwaves, he walked the streets and handed out posters. T-shirts, chanting and publicity spread from the East Coast to the West Coast. Adam Greenberg was becoming a celebrity. The Chicago Cubs noticed…

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14. Wait For It

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“We’ll certainly take a look,” a member from the Cubs organization told Liston while sitting together at the Trace, a rock-n-roll bar in Wrigleyville. “We owe it to him.” The Cubs did take a look and gave Adam the pass. But the buzz was building, and then Liston and Adam joined Matt Lauer on The Today Show. On air, Adam received a surprise…[/nextpage]

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15. The Offer

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David Samson was on a screen displayed in The Today Show studio. David was the president of the Miami Marlins. He was the president when Greenberg got hurt, and now on live TV he said that Adam “is someone who deserves to have one at bat.” Lauer handed Adam a Marlins cap and Adam agreed to a one day contract with the Marlins, now in Miami. Adam was smiling so much, he had a difficult time speaking.

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16. The One At Bat

On October 2, 2012, wearing #10 for the Marlins, Adam Greenberg stepped onto the major league diamond and up to the plate in the sixth inning. He faced New York Mets’ right hander, R.A. Dickey. When asked how he would pitch to Greenberg, Dickey said, “I will pitch to him like the big league hitter that he is.” Dickey wound up and threw…a called strike.

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17. In The Record

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Adam swung at the next pitch and missed. The crowd was standing, the cameras were pointing and Dickey wound up for the third pitch. It was heading a bit outside the plate…but Adam wanted it. He swung with great force, the force of waiting a lifetime plus seven years for this moment. He swung for the 27,000+ fans who signed a petition to get him to this batter’s box. He swung for Matt Liston. He swung with everything he had. He swung, and he missed.

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18. Feel-Good Story

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Before the Marlins invited him to play the one game, Greenberg said that the excitement was not just about him or one at bat. He was humbled by the support and said, “The news is full of negative stories. Somebody is going to look at this and say, ‘Wow, I feel better today.’” Adam Greenberg got what most people don’t get: a second chance—and one at bat. And thousands of people shared his moment. He walked off the field to a standing ovation.

[Featured Image Credit:  www.sbnation.com]

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