Social Media and Second Chances

Adam Greenberg stepped into the batter’s box and choked up on his bat, with a crowd of 29,000 on their feet chanting his name. This was his chance. He watched the first pitch fly by for strike one. Then a swing and a miss – strike two. And less than a minute after he stepped in, Greenberg was heading back to the dugout after strike three.

But the fans erupted with cheers. Adam Greenberg had accomplished something special – and so had they.

 Rewind five years to July 9, 2005, when the Chicago Cubs were taking on the Florida Marlins. A 24-year-old Greenberg was about to accomplish his life goal of playing in a Major League game, even if it only meant one at-bat. But he didn’t even get that.  The first pitch he saw, a 92 mph fastball, connected with the back of his head, and in a flash his dreams had shattered.

The next few months were spent in rehabilitation centers, where Greenberg fought vertigo and vision problems. Being able to step up to the plate again was an afterthought, but he eventually got around to it, and had to combat the flinches and the flashbacks every time a pitcher threw inside. For six years, he bounced around the minor leagues, hoping to one day make it back, but his reaction time was a little bit slower, and Greenberg was a little bit older.

In the meantime, filmmaker Matt Liston heard about Greenberg’s plight and decided to take action. He called his campaign “One At Bat,” and began by talking to players, coaches, and baseball higher-ups to see if there was a realistic shot of Greenberg getting back on the field.  The reaction was mostly positive, but logistically, it would be tough to maneuver Greenberg onto a roster for a day while handling other players’ contracts and having to send somebody back down to the minors. It was a good story, but no team was willing to make the move.

That’s when Liston took to social media. He created a petition on Change.org, where anyone can sign up and support causes they believe in.  And by September, the page had more than 20,000 signatures. It began to garner attention from smaller internet sites, and eventually outlets like Yahoo, The Sporting News, and ESPN caught on.  The movement was growing.

 

Greenberg even made an appearance on the Today Show, where he promised to return if he ever got the chance.  And with one week left in the season, Greenberg got a call from Florida Marlins President David Samson, who offered him a one-day contract to get him his one at-bat. Greenberg accepted.

And as Greenberg walked back to the dugout after striking out, the crowd stood and cheered while Greenberg smiled. The 29,000 fans in attendance made the moment special, but the hundreds of thousands of supporters from across the country made it happen.

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7 thoughts on “Social Media and Second Chances

  1. What a classy move by the Miami Marlins! At the end of the day I think its important to remember that baseball is just a game, and I think that Miami understood that.They sacrificed one at bat to give a man the opportunity to step to the plate; an opportunity he had rightfully earned so many years ago. Its amazing how social media brought this story to the forefront, and to the attention of so many teams. Thankfully one of those teams stepped up and did the right thing.

  2. I remember watching this at bat live and it was great to see. Usually media ploys like this are criticized by media as just a tactic to get fans in the seats, but overall the media was extremely favorable to the Miami Marlins for this move. I agree with them since it was so late in the season and the Marlins were already eliminated from the playoffs, why not let a kid complete his dream? Unfortunately for him it had to be against one of the best pitchers in baseball this year in R.A. Dickey.

  3. The Red Sox should have signed him on this season. Certainly couldn’t have done any worse…

    Seriously, I love stories like this. The first time I taught this class, I assigned a book called “Facebook Fairytales” that was a list of all of these types of feel-good stories of things happening via social media. I think its an important counterweight to all the stories of misery and bullying that we here as well. SM can be a powerful tool for good and for bad, and it just depends on how we use it.

  4. Amazing story! This guy definitely deserved playing in the MLB after all the effort he had done. However I’m sure that many other athletes should have had the opportunity and by any sort of injury they couldn’t. In any case, the fascinating of social media is that with its help, Greenberg could make his dream become true.

    • I think the difference with Adam was that he earned his shot to compete in the majors, and the very first pitch he saw took it away from him. I agree though, it’s amazing that the power we have to connect can change a man’s life.

  5. This is an amazing story. Like Professor Kane, I love stories like this and am always thrilled to see social media being used as a method of help and change. Thanks for sharing this story and great post.

  6. I’m just gonna go out and say it. I love hearing stories like this. It is nice to see how social media can affect and change the lives of people, even if it is just for a split second. And it more so nice to see that there are people out there that care for others and are willing to take the time out to make someone’s dream come true. This just reassures me that there is hope for mankind yet.
    Im glad that this man got a second chance, even if it was just for a day to complete his lifelong dream.

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