Adam Greenberg Hit in Head During First Major League At-Bat

When you envision dangerous sports during which athlete injuries are common, baseball is likely one of the last sports to come to mind. However, former Chicago Cubs outfielder Adam Greenberg found out firsthand how dangerous Major League Baseball could be when he was hit in the head with a fastball during his first-ever at-bat appearance.

The Game

Adam Greenberg was injured during a game between the Chicago Cubs and the Florida Marlins on July 9, 2005. When Greenberg stepped up to the plate for his first-ever Major League at-bat, he was hit directly in the back of the head with the first pitch, a fastball from Marlins player Valerio de los Santos. The pitch was clocked at 92 mph. Immediately after the hit, Greenberg was removed from the game and taken to the hospital.

The Injury

When the ball hit Greenberg’s head, it knocked the batting helmet away; Greenberg fell to the ground in pain, holding the back of his head. Later, Greenberg claimed he felt like he was holding his head together with his hands and that he couldn’t control the movement of his eyes. Fellow players describe hearing “a loud, echoing thud” as the ball connected. The pitch that hit Adam Greenberg caused a mild concussion and a compound skull fracture due to the force of its impact. Greenberg was unable to finish the season, and continued to suffer pain and positional vertigo. He also slept upright for weeks to reduce the effects of the headaches caused by his injury.

The Result

For years after the injury, Greenberg continued to deal with post-concussion problems that included vertigo, headaches, double vision, and nausea. Greenberg was eventually able to return to the baseball field, playing for several Minor League teams. In 2012, Greenberg was awarded a one-day contract with the Miami Marlins; he donated the proceeds from his contract to an organization researching brain trauma in athletes.