Former Jewish Major Leaguer Adam Greenberg has been added to the Team Israel roster for the qualifying rounds of the 2013 World Baseball Classic, according to a posting on Team Israel's Facebook page. Greenberg takes the roster spot of former JMLer Gabe Kapler, who sustained an injury.
Greenberg's story is widely known, but worth repeating.
A Cubs prospect, Greenberg was called up to the Major Leagues in July 7, 2005. Two days later, he was sent into a game against the Marlins to pinch hit.
As described by the New York Times, Greenberg was hit in the head by a 92-mile-per-hour fastball on the first pitch he saw.
"I didn't have a chance to swing," Greenberg recounted in Jewish Major Leaguers in Their Own Words: Oral Histories of 23 Players (which devotes an entire chapter to his story). "I didn't have a chance to swing, and it cracked me. … I was conscious the whole time. I couldn't control my eyes. They rolled into the back of my head, but I was aware of everything that was going on, basically just trying to tell myself to stay alive and stay with it … ."
The affects of the concussion Greenberg suffered from the beaning lasted for months, and he never made it back to the Big Leagues.
Greenberg has tried, unsuccessfully, to earn his way back to the majors. He played in the affiliated minor leagues and for the independent league Bridgeport Blue Fish for several years, retiring in 2011.
Sports documentary film maker Matt Liston recently spearheaded an online petition to try to get the Cubs to give Greenberg one more at bat. The "One At Bat" campaign, while dramatic and inspiring, unfortunately proved unsuccessful, with the Cubs denying the petition. The "One At Bat" video is available below. The piece is compelling, but watching Greenberg get beaned is unsettling, to say the least.
Playing for Team Israel could be Greenberg's last opportunity to showcase himself before major league scouts. Here's hoping Adam's time on the international stage earns him another shot at "The Show." And, let's offer a hearty yasher koach to Team Israel manager Brad Ausmus for the noble gesture. Here's also hoping that Kapler makes a full, and speedy, recovery from his injury.
Jewish baseball collectors have access to a number of Greenberg cards and collectibles, despite — and possibly because of — the extreme brevity of his major league career.
Greenberg is featured on nearly three dozen different baseball cards, including minor and major league issues, according to Beckett.com. These include a 2002 Upper Deck Prospect Premiere issue, and 2004 Topps Total and Bowman rookie cards, including Chrome, Refractor and autographed iterations from Bowman.
He also has cards in the 2008 and 2010 Jewish Major Leaguers card sets.
All of Greenberg's cards are readily available on eBay, the Becket Marketplace and Amazon.com. They generally sell for between $1-5 for singles, with some minor league team sets and the Chrome, Refractor and autographed Bowman cards costing a bit more.
Greenberg is likely to have another baseball card available in the near future, as a result of his play for Team Israel.
As reported in this earlier JewishSportsCollectibles.com post about Team Israel memorabilia, Martin Abramowitz, publisher of the Jewish Major Leaguer card series, said in early August post on Team Israel's Facebook page that he plans to include an Israel WBC card in a 2015 release of JML cards.
Photographer Bob Ruxin recently verified that he will be at the WBC tourney taking pictures for JML in another posting on Team Israel's Facebook wall.
I hope Greenberg is, indeed, included in the planned set, either individually or as part of a team card.
Beyond his baseball cards, there is not much Greenberg memorabilia listed on eBay, as of this posting.
Other items include an autographed baseball (as always, buyers beware!) and a generic University of North Carolina replica jersey (Greenberg played college ball for the Tar Heels).
Certainly other Greenberg memorabilia exists, although I could find little.
Collectors can download and print a One At Bat poster from the campaign's web site. The poster, while visually arresting, does not, however, feature Greenberg's likeness. It would, in my opinion, make an intriguing addition to any Greenberg collection, regardless.
For collectors who prefer to keep their memorabilia on the book shelf, Greenberg's saga is recounted in several Jewish baseball books.
These include Jewish Major Leaguers in Their Own Words, Jews and Baseball: Volume 2, The Post-Greenberg Years, 1949-2008,
and The Baseball Talmud: The Definitive Position-by-Position Ranking of Baseball's Chosen Players, all of which are available on Amazon.
Greenberg is a generous in-person signer and welcomes interactions with his Jewish fan base, as detailed in Jewish Major Leaguers in Their Own Words. It has been my experience that Adam is also a willing respondent to through-the-mail requests for his autographs. I'm proud to have several of Greenbergs autographed cards in my Jewish baseball collection.
What Adam Greenberg memorabilia have I overlooked? Do you have any Greenberg collectibles in your Jewish baseball collection? What's your favorite piece?
Share your thoughts with JewishSportsCollectibles.com readers by commenting below.