I’d never heard of Adam Greenberg before I went to see him speak three years ago at Temple of Aaron in St. Paul. From an early age Adam was a gifted athlete and driven competitor. He excelled at three sports — baseball, basketball, and soccer — but baseball was his first love. He played baseball at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. As a junior in 2002, he hit .337, stole 35 bases, scored 80 runs, homered 17 times and led the ACC with seven triples. That got the attention of the Cubs, who drafted him that year.
After three years in the Cubs system he got the call to the show in the summer of 2005. Inserted as a pinch hitter in the ninth inning of his first game up, this is what happened next (video below, about five minutes).
Adam was drilled by a fastball to the back of his head on the first pitch of his first at bat. He sustained a compound skull fracture. He suffered vertigo. His vision was impaired. It took two-and-a-half years to overcome the physical effects of his injuries. Then he returned to baseball in the hopes of making it back to the bigs.
Toward the end of his journey back Adam got a call from Brad Ausmus. As one thing led to another, Adam ended up playing for Israel’s first World Baseball Classic Team. Adam was “relentlessly positive about this experience, as he has been about everything that’s happened since he was hit in the head by the only pitch he saw as a Major Leaguer on July 9, 2005.” You can find that piece of the story here.
His second at bat came in 2012 when the Miami Marlins signed him to a one-day contract. Adam paid tribute to his Marlins teammates that day. They welcomed him back to the bigs and treated him with respect. Facing Cy Young Award-winner R.A. Dickey, Adam struck out on three knuckleballs. The story Adam told in St. Paul had a happy ending, O. Henry style.
I wasn’t entirely sure what to make of Adam’s story other than the power of Adam’s spirit, which shone through every word. The New York Times has lent me a hand with an update to Adam’s story this weekend in an excellent article by John Altavilla: “Now Running for Office, Adam Greenberg. You May Remember His First At-Bat.” Adam is now running as the Republican candidate for a seat in the Connecticut state senate held by Democrats since 2004 in a district currently represented by Ted Kennedy, Jr., who is stepping down.
As I say, I didn’t know what to make of Adam’s story other than the felt need to pass it on. The Times quotes Adam placing his story in the context of his current endeavor: “What I know is what I bring to the table. I accomplished something that is very difficult; very few people have a chance to make it to the major leagues. I have been knocked down and gone through tremendous struggles. I can relate to those who also have.”
Adam’s site is here. I find that his campaign is not accepting contributions yet. We will have to check in again when it is.