“I want you to close your eyes and I want you to go back in time. I want you to go back to the most amazing thing that’s ever happened to you,” said former professional baseball player Adam Greenberg at Temple Israel in Lawrence. “Now keeping your eyes closed I want you to go back to a dark time, focus on that feeling just for a second … Imagine those two feelings of unbelievable that was amazing with the that didn’t feel so good and imagine them happening at the exact same time.”
In Miami on July 9, 2005, Greenberg was inserted into the Chicago Cubs’ line up in the ninth inning as a pinch hitter against the Florida Marlins. His dream of making the major leagues had come true after years of hard work in the minors. Unfortunately, that euphoria lasted just a moment as the very first pitch, a 92-mph fastball from left-hander Valerio de los Santos, struck him in the back of his head.
Greenberg suffered a concussion and spent months suffering from vision issues and positional vertigo. Subsequently, he was back to the minor leagues, where he played for several different organizations over the next few years, even recording a hit against de los Santos, who was with the Long Island Ducks, in 2011.
In 2012, Greenberg got another chance when the Marlins signed him to a one-day contract after an online petition was used to get him one more at bat in the majors. After seven years away from “the show” Greenberg basked in his moment.
On Oct. 2, he took his time on the way to the batter’s box. Knuckle ball pitcher R.A. Dickey, that year’s eventual Cy Young Award winner, struck him out on three pitches. Greenberg received a standing ovation from the crowd.
“I really want the young kids to feel that they can accomplish anything,” he said.
Greenberg is the founder and chief executive officer of Lurong Living, a nutritional website where he sells some of the products that helped him on the road back from his injury. He’s also written “Get Up: The Art of Perseverance,” which features the image of him clutching the back of his head on the ground after the fateful pitch.
While his career in the major’s may not have gone where he had planned Greenberg is happy to serve as an inspiration to never give up. “Being given a platform to help impact people’s lives in a positive way is really what it’s all about and the title speaks for itself,” he said.
Greenberg, a Jewish athlete and member of Team Israel’s 2013 World Baseball Classic team, was the first guest for Temple Israel of Lawrence’s 2017-2018 Book and Author Series. There was a $4 fee for temple members and $5 fee for nonmembers. Marilyn Fierro, author of “The Limitless Spirit of The Martial Arts” is the next guest, on Wednesday, Oct. 18 at 7:30 p.m.
Alan Freedman, the temple’s executive director, organized the event. He had met Greenberg years ago while tracking Jewish ball players. He thought Greenberg would serve as an inspiration the younger Jewish athletes. “One of the goals when I got involved was to show Jewish kids there are heroes in areas they might not typically think of,” Freedman said.
Matt Russo, 16, of Wantagh stepped away from baseball to focus on his schoolwork. The Mets fan wasn’t as interested in their shared faith as wanting to understand how Greenberg rebounded from his injury. “I just like baseball,” Russo said.