One At-Bat

In July of 2005, outfielder Adam Greenberg was called up from the Double-A West Tenn Diamond Jaxx to the Chicago Cubs, arriving in the major leagues for the first time after four years in the minors. On July 7th, in a game against the Florida Marlins, manager Dusty Baker called on Greenberg to pinch-hit in the top of the 9th. Fulfilling a lifetime’s worth of dreaming, Greenberg stepped into the batter’s box for his first official plate appearance. He saw just one pitch. Perhaps more accurately, he didn’t even see that. Southpaw Valerio de los Santos’ first pitch drilled Greenberg in the back of the head, knocking him out of the game.

The effects of that beaning stuck with Greenberg. He was sent down to the minors for the rest of the season, and from 2006 until 2012 he bounced around the minor leagues and independent baseball. He never again returned to the bigs. Up until 2012, nearly 18,000 people had played in the majors, but only Adam Greenberg had his career end after just a single pitch. And because a hit-by-pitch doesn’t count as an official at-bat (only a “plate appearance”), Greenberg’s official stats were effectively non-existent.

That just didn’t sit right with documentarian and sports fan Matt Liston, who decided to set things right in the universe by getting Adam Greenberg an official Major League at-bat. Liston created a website,, and produced a video for the cause.1 After raising awareness, the movement picked up steam. Thousands of people signed an online petition and spread the word via Twitter.

Ultimately, the Miami Marlins agreed to offer Greenberg a second chance, signing him to a one-day contract. On October 2nd, in the second-to-last game of the season (“Navarro Flu Awareness Night”!), Greenberg finally made his return got to the majors. Manager Ozzie Guillen called on Greenberg to pinch-hit in the 6th inning. As you might imagine, things turned out a bit better than last time.

If this were a Hollywood movie, Greenberg might have homered. Unfortunately, he instead struck out on three straight pitches from knuckleballer R.A. Dickey2. Nevertheless, it was a hell of an at-bat, including a standing ovation from the crowd and hugs from his short-term teammates. After the game, Greenberg stated “Getting high-fived after a strikeout by your entire team and having people cheer, it was different to say the least”.

Greenberg’s one-day contract paid him $2,623, and he donated that money to Sports Legacy Institute, an organization that researches brain trauma in athletes. He’s not finished with baseball yet, either. He’s hoping to earn an invitation to spring training next year from any team, particularly the Marlins, and he’ll continue to work at his big league dreams.

Perhaps best of all, for his dedication, hard work, and persistence, Topps is proud to include Adam Greenberg in their 2013 baseball card set. Good for you, Adam.

Adam Greenberg's 2013 Topps Baseball Card
[Photo credit: Topps]


  1. Archived here. ↩︎

  2. Whose Cy Young-caliber season, it should be noted, has included 229 other strikeouts. ↩︎