Originally posted on Fox Sports Florida  |  Last updated 10/3/12
MIAMI -- After striking out on three pitches, Adam Greenberg received a standing ovation from fans and high fives from teammates. But Greenberg had to draw the line somewhere. No, he wasn't going to come out of the dugout for a curtain call. "I wanted to do that after my at-bat, but I struck out," Greenberg said of the sixth inning. "So I can't do that. You usually come out after a hit or a home run." So Greenberg waited. It turned out to be good strategy. The fans at Marlins Park went wild after Donovan Solano singled in the winning run in the bottom of the 11th inning of Miami's 4-3 victory Tuesday night over the New York Mets. Greenberg sprinted out of the dugout to be the first to greet Solano. Then Greenberg did what he had been considering following the strikeout. Greenberg, wanting to thank the fans for their support, took off his hat in front of the dugout and waved it in the air. He got his third standing ovation of the night. Greenberg, then with the Chicago Cubs, had been struck in the head by the first pitch he ever saw in a major-league game, being decked July 9, 2005 against the Marlins at Sun Life Stadium. Many thought he never would play again. But Greenberg persevered. He overcame vertigo and post-concussion symptoms that plagued him for two years. He toiled in the minors, mostly in independent leagues. And, after a national Internet campaign spearheaded by Chicago filmmaker Matt Liston to get him an official major-league at-bat, he received one Tuesday courtesy of the Marlins. It only lasted 33 seconds. But being mowed down by Mets ace R.A. Dickey as a pinch hitter to lead off the bottom of the sixth is something Greenberg never will forget. "It was magical," Greenberg said of what it felt like before the 29,709 fans. "The energy that was in the stadium is something I've never experienced in my life I don't care what's gone on the last seven years. It's all worth it for this moment It's going to last for an eternity for me. That's 33 seconds more than I ever could have asked for." Call it a gimmick for a team in that is in last place in the National League East and Wednesday will conclude a disastrous season. Maybe it was. But at least the Marlins provided a feel-good moment during a feel-bad season. "This ballclub was more excited than any other day," Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said about Greenberg signing a one-day contract. "We've been losing so many games we hate each other in the dugout. But I think the kid brings a lot of smiles, a lot of tears. You see a see a lot of teams in last place. Very seldom to you see a standing-ovation in the ballpark." Let alone three, the first two coming before and after Greenberg batted. And to add to the night, the Marlins even dug into baseball's pass. They brought in Fred Van Dusen, 75, from his Franklin, Tenn., home to throw out the first pitch. Greenberg and Van Dusen, who did it for the Phillies in 1955, had been the only two players in major-league history to be hit by a pitch in their only career at-bats. Unless the Marlins plan to give Van Dusen a plate appearance in Wednesday's finale, Van Dusen is back to being the sole answer to that dubious trivia question. "It's really not the kind of record you really strive for," said Van Dusen, who was 18 when he pinch hit during a late-season call-up and figured he would have many more major-league at-bats until his self-admitted immaturity never got him back to that level. "But I'm happy for (Greenberg). I really love his positive attitude. It's contagious. It's a good message for America and for kids." Greenberg, 31, has wanted to spread the message of never giving up. In fact, he doesn't expect this to be his final major-league at-bat, and he's seeking a spring training invitation for 2013. Greenberg's never-say-die attitude won over his new teammates. Outfielder Giancarlo Stanton, second in the National League with 37 home runs, has had a lot of big games this season. But this is one he'll especially remember. "It was awesome for him to get that second chance," Stanton sad. "The fans embraced it. It was a great moment regardless of the outcome. They documented everything (on film), so we can always look back." The Marlins will want to look back at a rookie hazing ritual they performed on Greenberg before the game. No, that 2005 at-bat didn't spare him from being regarded as a rookie. Greenberg was made to wear a skimpy Team USA Speedo suit and a water polo cap. Then he had to sing to the players. "I was completely humiliated but they were awesome," Greenberg said. "I went with the fitting-for-the-day Take Me Out to the Ballgame.' Got completely booed. But I had a little dance up my sleeve that loosened everyone up." The song had changed when Greenberg strode into the batter's box to pinch hit for Bryan Peterson with the Marlins leading 2-0. It was the appropriately selected "Dream On" by Aerosmith. "I wanted to savor that moment because I didn't the last time," said Greenberg, referring to his 2005 at-bat. "I remember digging in and stepping out and I let the energy flow. I let everyone cheer. I was ready for (Dickey's) pitch and I didn't want it to end that quickly." Guillen believed his pinch hitter was nervous but Greenberg denied that wasn't the case. With the whirlwind of media publicity he's gotten since the Marlins announced last Thursday they would sign him, Greenberg said there never was time to get nervous. Dickey, a knuckleballer and leading candidate for the Cy Young Award, didn't take much time in dispatching Greenberg. He got him with the first pitch looking and two swinging strikes. "After the strikeout, it was a lot of mixed emotions," Greenberg said. "Getting high-fived after a strikeout by your entire team and having people cheer, it was different to say the least. But it just proved that this was important to a lot of people." It was a strikeout well worth a curtain call even if it was a delayed one. Chris Tomasson can be reached at christomasson@hotmail.com or on Twitter @christomasson
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