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.