That Sam I Am, I Really Like That Sam Fuld Man!
Photos and Story by Gordy Jones
Earlier this year, I wrote about how impressed I was with the hustle of Twins outfielder Sam Fuld. Unfortunately, the day my story was published, poor Sam got a concussion and was out for a few weeks. Well, Sam is back and full of fire…although it might not appear so. That’s what I love about the guy: the way he blends in, very mellow — just one of the guys in the background. But once at the plate he can be pretty aggressive, and has proved to do well in the clutch. He also has the patience to take a base-on-balls. Once Sam gets on base — look out; Sam will take off. At the time I am writing this, he has 12 stolen bases and 26 walks in the 55 games he’s played this season.
Sam Fuld is 32 years old, but looks much younger. This is his seventh year in the big leagues, and he works very hard at his game. The night I had a chance to talk to him, he knew he wasn’t in the lineup. However, he seemed to work harder than any other guy on the field. He offered big aggressive swings at batting practice. He ran full speed while shagging balls and running bases. I actually felt bad; he had agreed to talk to me after B.P., but he looked exhausted from his full workout. As soon as he finished, he approached me, smiled and said: “Let’s go.”
Being a new Sam Fuld fan, I did a little research, and I read that he was raised by prominent parents in New Hampshire. His father was a professor for 30 years at the University of New Hampshire, and is now the dean of their journalism school. His mom was a state senator. I brought up his mom, and he said jokingly, “Yeah, she’s better than I am. I’ve never been good at politics.” Then he laughed and said: “They were great parents. I always just looked at them as great parents. Yes, they definitely had successful careers, but more than anything, I just look at them as a loving mom and dad.”
Sam’s father is Jewish, and his mother is Catholic. He grinned and said: “I had the opportunity to celebrate the holidays of both religions.”
When Sam was very young, he began swinging a wiffle bat and would hit the ball hard — for a 3-year-old. “Baseball was my first love, but I played
everything…you name it. I played soccer through high school, basketball, tennis, hockey – I’m a fan of being well rounded. Playing soccer has helped me as a baseball player. Some of the skills you learn playing other sports will carry over to a sport like baseball.”
I told him that he is so fast, I assume he must have run track at one time. “Oh, yes! I ran track during winter while in high school. I ran sprints: the 55-meter and the 100-yard dash. I was pretty fast on the New Hampshire level. But for national standards, it was nothing to get excited about.”
Sam went to Stanford and prides himself on being one of the few ballplayers with a college degree. He seems pretty smart, and I have been told he could figure out batting averages in his head as a young child.
According to his bio, in the year 2000, he was ranked 19th out of the top 100 high school recruits. He was a two-time All-American and a three-time All-Pac-10 centerfielder at Stanford while getting a degree in economics.
Sam found out he was diabetic around the age of 10, and never let his Type 1 diabetes get in his way of succeeding. After making the majors, he began to host some summer camps in Florida for children with diabetes, in conjunction with the University of South Florida Diabetes Center.
We talked about his hobbies, and he said, “I try to get in as many books and movies as I can. But I have three children now, and that limits my ability to do those things.” He had a “proud Papa” look on his face as he mentioned the kids.
I asked him who his heroes were growing up. He replied, “I grew up near Boston, so I had no choice but to be a Red Sox fan. I loved watching Wade Boggs play. But I’ve always really admired my parents. I didn’t have to leave my house when looking for role models.”
In this season, with not a lot happening positively for the Twins, Sam is a fun guy to watch and root for as he flies around the outfield and the base paths — and he’s a good role model for a young Twins fan!