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Adam Greenberg

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By Scott Barancik/Jewish Baseball News

Adam Greenberg, the retired ballplayer who rode a wave of fan appreciation to an unlikely at-bat with the Florida Marlins this October, isn’t finished with his comeback.

The 31-year-old outfielder signed a minor-league contract this week with the Baltimore Orioles. It is his first deal with an MLB franchise since the Los Angeles Angels’ double-A team released him in 2008.

“I couldn’t be more excited for the opportunity,” he told ESPN  Thursday afternoon (12/20/2012).

Greenberg’s story has become legend. Just 24 years old when the Chicago Cubs called him up from double-A in 2005, the 5-foot-9-inch Connecticut native was struck in the back of the head with the first pitch of what turned out to be his only Major League at-bat. He never fully recovered his form, spending several lackluster years in the minors before turning to the independent Atlantic League in 2008.

Although Greenberg performed well with the Bridgeport Bluefish, stealing as many as 53 bases in a season and finishing 2011 with 10 HRs, 12 triples, 44 RBIs, 27 stolen bases, a .259 batting average and a .393 on-base percentage, Major League Baseball never came calling. By 2012 he was done, ready to accept his fate, spend more time with his wife and family, and flex his entrepreneurial muscle with a plan to sell deer antler supplements.

But when Team Israel announced earlier this year that it was recruiting Jewish-American players for the World Baseball Classic qualifiers, Greenberg’s baseball dreams returned. A last-minute addition to the roster, he walked and scored a run in his only plate appearance. Two weeks later he was striking out against New York Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey in front of tens of thousands of cheering Florida Marlins fans, courtesy of a one-game contract sparked by an online petition and inked by team owner Jeffrey Loria, who is Jewish.

Then came Major League Baseball’s winter meetings. Not content to passively wait for a call, Greenberg showed up to make his case in person to team executives (see interview). And this week the Orioles — whose executive vice-president of baseball operations, Dan Duquette, was a founding member of the short-lived Israel Baseball League — took him up on it.

Jewish Baseball News will follow Greenberg’s comeback as it progresses.

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