It was July 9, 2005 when Adam Greenberg made his major-league debut for the Chicago Cubs. No doubt nervous, the 24-year-old lefty dug in at the plate; hopefully ready for the first of many pitches he would see throughout his career. It would end up being the only pitch he would see as a Florida Marlin pitcher would end up drilling him in the helmet.
A host of concussion-related problems including vertigo and blurred vision would follow and Greenberg was never able to return to the major leagues despite numerous tours through the farm systems of several organizations.
You see because he was hit by a pitch, it didn’t count as an official at-bat so Greenberg would forever live in infamy as the baseball player who played in the majors but statistically never played in the majors. That was until Tuesday night when he was granted one more at-bat.
Chicago Cubs fan Matt Liston started a campaign earlier this year called “One At Bat” to get Greenberg one more shot at the plate. After nearly 25,000 signatures and a growing online support, Greenberg’s dream came true when the Florida Marlins (Ironically) signed Greenberg to a one-day contract.
So the 31-year-old walked to the plate with Aerosmith’s “Dream On” playing and faced 20-game winner R.A. Dickey. The plate appearance didn’t last long as Greenberg struck out on three pitches. But the big smile on his face as he walked back to the dugout revealed he didn’t really care about the outcome. He got his second chance.
For seven years Greenberg was one of only two players to be hit by a pitch in his only big-league appearance and never take the field again. The other was Fred Van Dusen with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1955.
Van Dusen flew down from his home in Franklin, Tenn., to attend Tuesday’s game.
Following the incident in 2005, Geenberg married, started a health-supplement business and toiled in the minor leagues. He still holds on to the dream of playing again in the majors, but it doesn’t define him.
“Life throws you curveballs,” said Greenberg. “Mine threw me a fastball at 92, and it hit me in the back of the head. I got up from it, and my life is great.”
Netflix Instant Pick: The Grey
2012 hasn’t been a particularly strong year for movies. With the exception of a couple of great superhero movies, Wes Anderson’s new film and 21 Jump Street, this is a year that probably won’t be remembered.
But that might change in the last two months as a number of films including: Seven Psychopaths, Lincoln, Django Unchained, Killing Them Softly, Wreck-It-Ralph, Silver Linings Playbook, Flight, This is 40, Argo and Skyfall to name quite a few, come out.
Until these movies are released (and until I see Looper), the best film I’ve seen this year came out way back in January. Liam Neeson has Taken 2 coming out this week, but it was another film he starred in that remains the best I’ve seen this year and one that you can find on Netflix instant.
Ever since the success of Taken, Neeson has sort of reinvented himself as an action hero with starring roles in The A-Team, Unknown, the upcoming Taken sequel and smaller roles in other action movies such as Battleship and the Clash of the Titans films.
To say that the most bankable action star currently in Hollywood is a man who turned 60 in July is astonishing. But unlike some of the younger actors attempting to fill the non-superhero action hero shoes, Neeson is like a fine wine. With his Irish-whiskey voice, battered face and 6-4 frame, who needs the pretty boys. This is a man who has lived a life.
If you watch the trailer for The Grey, you might think it’s just another Neeson vehicle where instead of fighting endless thugs, he’s using miniature booze bottles to fight wolves. Yes there is a scene in the film where he does that, but to call this just another action movie would be doing it a disservice. The Grey is an engrossing tale of depression, survival and reflection.
In Alaska, a team of oil workers are boarding a flight home to finally see their families. During the flight, they cross a storm and the airplane crashes. Only seven workers survive, and it’s up to John Ottway (Neeson) to lead them to safety. But besides worrying about a lack of food, shelter or warmth, they must deal with man-eating wolves.
The plot is simple enough and in classic horror-movie fashion, characters die in one sad and violent scenario after another. But it’s the quieter moments where the movie rises above the despair. We see flashbacks of Ottway with his wife and in a scene near the end, the remaining survivors reflect on their lives, the people they love and how they plan to change if they make it out. Some of the characters exist just to be eaten, but a few are given back stories that turn them into real characters we hope can survive.
Reminiscent of the book, “The Road,” The Grey is able to balance the bleak situation with beauty. In an early scene, Ottway comforts a dying man following the crash. It’s utterly depressing, but beautifully acted by everyone involved. Between scenes of bloodshed is gorgeous scenery of the Alaskan wilderness that provides stillness and solitary so that both the survivors and us can catch our breath.
On one level, The Grey can be seen and appreciated as a tense survival thriller. On another, it’s an examination of the absolute fragility of man and the steps we’re willing to take to survive. Neeson’s performance (especially the final scene) is Oscar-caliber . You probably can’t say that about his other action roles as of late.