Why didn't Adam Greenberg make his comeback with the Chicago Cubs?

Sun Sentinel columnist

The Marlins weren’t the only team that considered giving Adam Greenberg an opportunity to complete his remarkable comeback.

Matt Liston, the documentary filmmaker and organizer of the One At Bat campaign, told me after Tuesday’s unforgettable game at Marlins Park that “there were actually several teams” that were “equally interested” in recent weeks.

The Marlins were the only ones to make a firm offer, Liston said, which was fine with Greenberg for several reasons, not the least of which was the fact his July 2005 beaning came against then Marlins lefty Valerio de los Santos at Sun Life Stadium.

“We wanted the Miami Marlins,” Liston told me. “They were always the top choice after the Chicago Cubs. They had the bold ownership. Come on. It’s fearless ownership. And the poetry of coming full circle was important to Adam. That made Miami very appealing.”

What about the Cubs?

They, after all, were Greenberg’s original organization, the one that drafted him out of North Carolina in the ninth round in 2002 (the Marlins took slap-hitting outfielder Eric Reed 10 picks earlier), the one that brought him to the majors for those seven fateful games in 2005, the one in which he took his first tentative steps along the comeback trail.

Why weren’t they the ones to bring Greenberg back for his big moment?

“My guess is they’re about to have a 100-loss season under a brand-new regime, the Theo Epstein regime,” Liston said. “I think the Cubs are so sensitive to how they’re perceived now because of their losing. I understood it.”

You think the Marlins and their followers are down? That’s nothing compared to the latest round of misery on the North Side of Chicago as Epstein breaks it down again in hopes of staging a Red Sox-style turnaround.

“The Marlins have won two championships here in the last 15 years,” says Liston, a longtime Cubs fan. “The Cubs haven’t won in a hundred, so it’s kind of hard to do something in that market where they they think they’re not going to be taken seriously. ‘Is this a PR stunt?’ Well, they don’t have much of a sense of humor right now.”

Liston, whom Greenberg calls "my agent," had steady dialogue with Cubs representatives. He talked with owner Tom Ricketts before the season.

“He loved the spirit of the campaign,” Liston said. “I thought we had a chance there. I was hopeful.”

First-year Cubs GM Jed Hoyer met with Liston around midseason.

“We thought we had a shot,” Liston said.

Liston never received an audience with Epstein. Nor did the Cubs ever offer an explanation for why they decided to pass on a Greenberg reunion.

“Theo never talked about it,” Liston said, “but I heard from other people that some people in the organization wanted to see it happen. They loved Adam and wanted to see it happen, but the decision-makers didn’t.”

Nine years after the Bartman Game, the Marlins beat the Cubs again in a contest they had no business winning.

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