MIAMI — Adam Greenberg has faced one pitch in the major leagues, a 92 mph fastball that struck him in the head and changed his life.
More than seven years later, the Miami Marlins are giving him a second chance.
The Marlins said Thursday that they have signed Greenberg to a one-day contract, effective 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 Thursday morning. “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 NBC’s “Today” show Thursday morning. However,Greenberg said team president David Samson called him Sunday night to actually tell him of the team’s plans to sign him to a one-day deal.
“I’m extremely proud to extend this opportunity to Adam,” Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria said in a statement.
Greenberg, a left-handed batter, went to the plate as a pinch-hitter to face the Marlins’ Valerio De Los Santos with one out in the ninth inning of the Cubs-Marlins game. De Los Santos‘ first pitch sailed up and in, strikingGreenberg 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 nauseous when seeing bright light.
“I look forward to seeing Adam step up to the plate and realizing his comeback dream,” Loria said.
The Mets’ probable starter on Tuesday will be Cy Young candidate R.A. Dickey. Greenberg said the Marlins have not told him if he will start, pinch-hit or play the field.
Greenberg is one of only two players in baseball history to be hit by a pitch in his first-and-only major-league appearance and never take the field, the other being Fred van Dusen, who endured that fate with Philadelphia in 1955.
Greenberg was the subject of a campaign called “One At Bat,” which lobbied teams to give him a second chance. As of Thursday morning, nearly 25,000 people had signed the online petition urging any major league club to give Greenberg an opportunity — since his first appearance in the majors did not count as an official at-bat, just merely a plate appearance.
“I just really want to make sure everyone understands that this is an amazing thing, for not just me but for a lot of people,” Greenberg said.