Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Just One More At-Bat

I'm sure most people are familiar with the story of Adam Greenberg, one of the many "Moonlight Grahams" in the extensive history of Major League Baseball.  Greenie, of course, was called up with his Double-A teammate Matt Murton on July 9th, 2005 (just shy of 11 years ago - wow); he promptly made his debut, pinch-hitting in the sixth inning against fireballer Valerio De Los Santos.

Then came the pitch heard round the world - literally.  One could hear the sound of De Los Santos' fastball cracking Adam's head reverberate throughout Pro Player Stadium.  As he immediately crumbled to the ground, my stomach immediately began turning like a revolving door.

I recall watching this game live and, to this day, it's the scariest thing I've seen occur on a baseball diamond (I wasn't around to see Dave Dravecky).

From there, post-concussion syndrome basically ruined his career in affiliated ball.  He found himself suffering from uncontrollable bouts of vertigo any time he so much as looked down, forcing him to sleep sitting up, and inability to control the focus of his vision.  Needless to say, this made baseball just a touch difficult.

He was eventually able to make a full recovery, but it took several years.  After bouncing through the Cubs, Dodgers, Royals and Angels organizations at several levels, it appeared as though his time to shine had already passed.  In stepped Cubs fan and documentary filmmaker Matt Liston (Chasing October, Catching Hell).

Taking inspiration from the Moonlight Graham depiction in Field of Dreams, Liston took it upon himself to save Greenberg from a life of being Graham'ed.  He launched an extensive online media campaign, even appearing on the Today Show, to garner notice for his Change.org petition to get Adam (who'd been playing for the Bridgeport Bluefish of the independent Atlantic League since 2007) one more at-bat in the Bigs.

The year was 2012, the Cubs were a team in transition and well on their way to a dismal 61-101 record.  Liston was hoping that the Northsiders would take on Greenberg to provide a small bright-spot in an otherwise bleak year.  I was one of 27,152 people who sympathized with Liston's cause:

This was the kind of thing I paid attention to at work in 2012... sorry for the time theft!

Anyway, while the Cubs disappointingly did not take Liston's bait.  Luckily, the newly-branded Miami Marlins, the very team which Adam Greenberg was batting against back in 2005, were desperately in need of some good publicity.  They were also in the doldrums of an awful season, right after having gone on a massive spending spree and opening a new stadium.  Not to mention, the actions of team owner Jeffrey Loria were painting the organization in terrible light.

Therefore, the Marlins agreed to sign Greenie to a one-day contract to suit up with the Miami Marlins, finally getting another chance to make an MLB appearance, 7 years after the pitch that not only destroyed his baseball career, but nearly ruined his life.  On October 2, 2012, that opportunity came against knuckleballer R.A. Dickey:

Talk about making it count; Dickey was on his way to the NL Cy Young Award, after all!

Though Adam swiftly struck out on three pitches, I think Adam and everybody in that stadium was quite happy with the experience.  Also, nice touch by the Marlins PA staff in blaring Aerosmith's Dream On as the walk up music for this historic at-bat.

After this touching moment, Adam returned to play for the Bluefish for another season.  However, that didn't stop Topps from creating a card to honor that special moment for their 2013 Flagship release:

Which is why I'm randomly blogging about this topic nearly 4 years after it occurred.  Today, while killing some free time at my LCS, I came across this card in a box of cards featuring former Cubs and I had to make it mine.  

First off, this card slots in nicely with my "Cubs of a Different Color" collection (which is made up of future/former Cubs players in other uniforms).  Second of all, this card is a nice little reminder of great feel good story.  With the state of the world being what it's been during the last few days, "good feels" are greatly needed.

Additionally, there was a note on the back of the card that made me audibly chuckle.  Remember those stupid "career chase" notes from 2013 Topps?"

Thank you for that urgent update there. Topps!

Anyway, thanks for checking in with Wrigley Roster Jenga tonight.  Time for me to turn my focus to the Cubs current match up against the Washington Nationals, a team which was only in it's first year of existence when Adam Greenberg suffered his notable beaning.

Dream on, folks.


  1. This is a great baseball story. Always thought it was awesome that Greenberg had a chance to make it back and play.

  2. You have to give him credit for sticking with it. Too bad it wasn't with the Cubs, but mission accomplished for Greenberg.

  3. I still don't know why the Cubs didn't give Greenberg the chance in 2012. It's not like they were playing for anything that year.