Cubs

Surprise? Blackshear plays in All-American Game

Surprise? Blackshear plays in All-American Game

Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Posted: 11:58 p.m.
By Scott Phillips
YourSeason.com

Chicago certainly loves its basketball.

In front of a sold-out United Center crowd, fans that usually pack the place for Derrick Rose and the Bulls were treated to the flash and flair of the 34th annual McDonalds All-American game as the East topped the West 111-96 on Wednesday night.

The announced crowd of 19,909, the largest crowd ever for a McDonalds game, saw the typical highlight-reel plays that such a game produces. They also saw Sun-Times Player of the Year Wayne Blackshear battle through a dislocated left shoulder to play limited minutes.

After initially saying he wouldnt play in the game on Monday, Morgan Parks Blackshear, a Louisville recruit, played through the pain and started the game.

"Before I first came on the court I was in the back with team doctors trying to figure out if I would be able to play," Blackshear said. "(My shoulder) wasn't even hurting at all. I got loose before the game and it was okay. I was a little scared of it but it was nothing major. I was okay.

The doctor approved him to play limited minutes, said West coach Gene Pingatore of St. Joseph. So we decided to start him and play him four minutes each half.

Blackshear finished the game with two points on 1-of-3 shooting with two rebounds and two assists in eight minutes of playing time.

"It was fun. (It was my) first time on the United Center floor. It was a dream for me. I was just blessed to be here," Blackshear said, "I wanted to play, but all of the doctors told me no. But on game day we checked it out and they said I was good to go."

After trailing 57-44 at halftime, the West came roaring back thanks to the strong play of Chicagos other representative, Perspectives-MSAs Anthony Davis. The Kentucky recruit came out firing in the second half, leading the West on a 13-0 run to tie the game at 57-all. Davis scored nine of his 14 points in the second half and also finished with six rebounds and four blocks. Davis was 5-of-8 from the field.

Still, it wasnt enough as the East capitalized on 18 West turnovers that led to 26 points. The game featured 10 lead changes and 11 ties, but co-MVPs James McAdoo and Michael Gilchrist fought off the constant pushes from the West to pull away. McAdoo, a North Carolina recruit, had a game-high 17 points while Kentucky recruit Gilchrist notched 16 points and 12 rebounds.

Florida recruit Brad Beal also had 17 points for the East while Pittsburgh recruit Khem Birch led the West with 15 points, 10 rebounds and six blocks. The East also had double-figure efforts from North Carolina recruit P.J. Hairston (15 points) and Duke recruit Quinn Cook (14 points).

Austin Rivers, the son of former Proviso East legend and Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers, finished the game with 14 points, five rebounds and four assists. The Duke commit shot 5-of-14 from the field.

Kentucky recruit Kyle Wiltjer (11 points) and Indiana recruit Cody Zeller (10 points) also finished in double figures for the West.

Kris Bryant is ready for fatherhood '[I was] put on this earth to be a dad'

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USA TODAY

Kris Bryant is ready for fatherhood '[I was] put on this earth to be a dad'

Suffice to say Kris Bryant is budding with anticipation for becoming a father.

Bryant and his wife, Jessica, are expecting their first child — a baby boy due in April. During Friday night’s Cubs-Padres broadcast, the third baseman shared his excitement for fatherhood with reporter Taylor McGregor

“I think this is really what I’ve been put on this Earth to do, is be a dad,” Bryant said, laughing. “Obviously I play baseball pretty good, but I’m just so excited [for] this new journey with my wife and my family. Honestly, I think this is going to be one of the best years of my life.”

Bryant’s son is due shortly after Opening Day, but the Cubs will play two spring training games in Las Vegas — Bryant’s hometown — on March 7-8. He told McGregor one of Jessica’s last doctor’s appointments is around the same time, so Bryant will get one last visit in before Baby Bryant is born.

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How Dusty Baker inspired former Cub Adam Greenberg after scary head injury

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AP

How Dusty Baker inspired former Cub Adam Greenberg after scary head injury

Adam Greenberg’s baseball career was cut short by a scary head injury 15 years ago. But with the help of Dusty Baker, he found the motivation to transition to his post-baseball life.

Greenberg made his MLB debut with the Cubs on July 9, 2005, and Baker called upon the then 24-year-old to pinch-hit in the ninth inning against the Marlins. On the first pitch Greenberg saw in the big leagues, Marlins reliever Valerio De Los Santos hit him in the back of the head with a 92-mph fastball.

Greenberg was concussed from the incident, suffered from vertigo and vision problems, and battled depression. The Cubs released him in 2006 and he caught on with the Royals and later the Dodgers in 2007 — which is when Baker reappears in the story. From MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart:

A couple of years following the incident, in 2007, Baker got a letter from a fan requesting a baseball card be signed. In the letter, the person told Baker that Greenberg had been released by the Royals and his baseball career was in jeopardy. Baker tracked down Greenberg and left him the voice mail that served as his motivation for a post-baseball life.

“It was so genuine and from the heart,” Greenberg said. “It put me in tears the first time, but it was the motivation and inspiration I needed to get up and keep going. And since then, he’s been somebody that’s been near and dear to me."

It's unfortunate Greenberg couldn’t experience a long big-league career, but Baker inspired him and helped him move forward post-baseball. According to McTaggart, Greenberg started a nutrition company and sold it 10 years later. He also ran for state senate in Connecticut in 2019 and is currently a baseball analyst for the ACC Network.

Greenberg’s career effectively ended moments after it began, but 2005 wasn’t the last time he stepped in a big-league batters’ box. In 2012, fans started an online petition to get him one last at-bat — and his career came full circle. The Marlins signed him to a one-day contract on Oct. 2, 2012, and he pinch-hit that same day against the Mets.

Greenberg struck out on three pitches, but Baker’s voicemail left a mark on his life. Seeing him enjoy success outside of baseball is as heartwarming as it gets.