Original Article Published On The Jewish Ledger
GUILFORD – For the Greenberg family, Thanksgiving is all of the Jewish holidays rolled into one.
“This is our holiday!” says Wendy Greenberg, mother of Adam Greenberg, an outfielder who has thus far played on Double and Triple A teams in the Chicago Cubs organization.
“With Adam on the road ten months of the year, it is hard to celebrate the September holidays and Passover together as a family,” notes Wendy, who said she and husband Mark were pleased that four out of five of their children were together this Thanksgiving.
Max, 20, had a good excuse or not being there – he his studying abroad in Australia. His absence was partially offset by the attendance of new brother-in-law Mike Ball, who joined the family in June when he married Keri, the Greenberg’s oldest daughter. Adam 23, is finally home after what he describes as “ten months straight of baseball, baseball, baseball.”
This is Greenberg’s time to “rest mind and body” and otherwise “regroup.”
As a member of a small group of Jewish ballplayers which includes Sandy Koufax, Hank Greenberg and current players Shawn Green and Gabe Kapler, Greenberg, with his obviously Jewish name, has heard all of the usual questions.
“Are you related to Hank Greenberg?” he is frequently asked.
“It is always put in my face,” Adam says. “The truth is – my grandfather’s name was Hank Greenberg. So, yes, Hank Greenberg is my grandfather (but no relation to the famous baseball player). But, until I saw the movie about the baseball player, which was pretty amazing, I hadn’t realized what he had to go through (as a Jew) when he played baseball – with the fans, his service in the military, etc.”
At Guilford High, Adam excelled on the baseball, soccer and basketball teams. He was the first player in Connecticut history to be named to four All-State teams, and he graduated with honors. Even with his busy schedule and dedication to sports, Greenberg found time to attend Hebrew school at Temple Beth Tikvah in Madison, where he celebrated his bar mitzvah.
Following graduation, Greenberg attended the University of North Carolina, where he was a scholar/athlete, majoring in communications.
Following Adam’s career has been a family affair for the close-knit, athletic clan. Various family members trekked to North Carolina to see Adam’s baseball games. And the family speaks with Adam daily during the season.
“He shares his highs and lows,” reports Wendy.
There were a few lows at UNC, when Greenberg would hear negative comments from teammates about being Jewish.
“Most had never met a Jewish person. I did hear a few wisecracks, but most were just curious and wanted to learn. So I found myself explaining a lot about Judaism,” says Greenberg.
Greenberg, 5’9”, is able to play all three outfield positions, with a reputation as a solid lead-off hitter with a high on-base percentage.
In 2002, Greenberg was drafted by the Cubs in the ninth round of the First-Year Player Draft. He has spent several summers in the Florida State League with a team in Daytona. After a stellar season playing in the outfield and hitting.291 in 91 games, he was sent to West Tennessee, a Double-A team before being again promoted – this time, Greenberg was sent to the Triple-A Iowa team, for the playoffs.
Then he had a chance to compete for the big league job, when he was sent to the Arizona Fall League. There, he hit.328 and stole four bases in 67 at-bats with the Mesa Solar Sox.
Where will Greenberg be when spring training comes? “They don’t tell you until the day before you have to leave,” notes Greenberg.
As of now, Greenberg is still a member of the Cubs organization. But he was not
“protected” by the Cubs and is therefore not a member of their 40-man roster. This means that, under Rule 5, he is eligible for the one-day draft in December—where he may remain with the Cubs or be picked up by another team.
For now, Greenberg will enjoy his time home with his family and await word of where he will report come February.