Super Sam – Sam Fuld
Just a year ago hardly anyone in Major League Baseball had heard of Sam Fuld. Now the 29-year-old Durham native and graduate of Phillips Exeter Academy is roaming left field for the Tampa Bay Rays and is the hottest player in the game. Tagged “Super Sam,” the son of Ken Fuld, the dean of the College of Liberal Arts at the University of New Hampshire, and State Senator Amanda Merrill is a mortal lock to make the 2011 All-Star team.He has become a top Twitter trend and his extraordinary defensive plays have vaulted him to the lead on the “Web Gem” standings on ESPN’s “Baseball Tonight.” Fans have even suggested that the American League East Champion Rays change the name of their stadium from Tropicana Field to Tropicana Fuld.Last year you were playing Triple A in Iowa and now you’re a major league sensation, media superstar and folk hero on the All-Star ballot. Is that tough to wrap your head around? Yeah, it happened so quickly that it is difficult to grasp the magnitude of it. But the only thing that’s not surprising is that’s the way baseball goes. There are so many ups and downs in the game so you never know what to expect. I’ve always been confident I could get to this point and a lot of it is getting the opportunity. It’s a blast. Even when going through a slump, I’m having fun and I always remind myself what a great job this is.You were buried in the minors in the Chicago Cubs organization behind Alfonso Soriano, their $12 million-a-year man, and the Rays had 2010 Golden Glover Carl Crawford in left field plus former All-Star Manny Ramirez on the roster. Crawford went to the Red Sox, you got traded and Manny retired unexpectedly. Could your stars have aligned more perfectly? It has been fortuitous. This is a great organization, and even before Manny, I was fortunate to have been traded to this team. We have a lot in common in some respects. I’ve always had to overachieve and have been in the underdog role, and the team is the same. Being in the same division with Boston and New York, they have certainly overachieved the last few years. This team is a great fit for me, and maybe luck had something to do with it.You grew up a Red Sox fan and to start this season, you played in Fenway Park for the first time. You were the Rays lead-off hitter and blasted a home run in your first at bat, followed by a double, stand-up triple and then another double. Admit it: You’re disappointed that double wasn’t a single to hit for the cycle. I was riding so high at the time, there wasn’t an ounce of disappointment. I was just happy to get even a hit. Even now, looking back on that night I don’t wish that double had been a single.After that performance, “The Legend of Sam Fuld” hashtag went wild on Twitter, with tweets like “Superman wears a Sam Fuld T-Shirt to bed.” What is your favorite legends tweet? There have been a lot of good ones, but I like the one ‘The Most Interesting Man in the World once offered Sam Fuld a Dos Equis.’ I love that guy.Is your phone ringing off the hook with fabulous offers for marketing endorsements and celebrity appearances? My agent has been busier, for sure. One of the biggest things has been the cape giveaway. That’s kind of cool. A few more doors have opened up and it’s allowed me to do some things to raise more awareness and more money for Juvenile Diabetes. That’s been the most gratifying part.MLB Reporter referred to you as the only 5’9″, New Hampshire-born, diabetic, Jewish, left-handed outfielder in the Baseball Encyclopedia. Did they miss anything? That covers a lot. I don’t think there will ever be another one either. When it comes to overcoming the odds, those sure are the things that pop out the most.You were diagnosed with Type-1 diabetes when you were 10 and take insulin shots five times per day. Do you think about your blood sugar levels when you’re playing? Oh, yeah. It’s never affected my performance negatively when I’m on the field, but it’s certainly on my mind all of the time whether I’m on the field or off the field. It’s something I have to be conscious of throughout every day. It’s a challenge and it’s not fun, but it’s defined who I am. It’s taught me a lot about being disciplined and having a good work ethic. I take a lot of pride in taking care of it, and in spreading the word and being inspirational to others.Rays starting pitcher David Price is a big fan, even calling you the “most exciting player in baseball.” Who are the people you admire? It sounds clique, but my parents are the ones I looked up to as a kid and I still do. Baseball wise, I really loved Nomar (Garciappara) when he was with the Red Sox. I have tried to pattern myself after the few short, left-handed outfielders. Brett Butler was a big inspiration, and then the several diabetic exceptional athletes like Gary Hall and Ron Santo have provided a lot of inspiration for me.Your wife Sarah, whom you met while you both were students at Phillips Exeter Academy, won two national lacrosse championships playing for Princeton. Will your 18-month-old son, Charlie, grow up to be a midfielder or an outfielder? I don’t know, maybe we’ll expose him to both. I hope he doesn’t get burned out on baseball because that’s going to be a big part of his life in his early childhood. I really don’t care. I just want him to find something, even if it’s not sports related, that he enjoys. I’m sure he’ll have a bat and a lacrosse stick in his hands at some point.What would you be doing if you weren’t playing baseball? Teaching has always interested me, partly due to my dad who loves his job. I don’t know if I’d be a college professor like him, but I love working with kids and could see myself teaching math and coaching baseball, maybe even at (Phillips) Exeter.What are your favorite things to do when you come home to New Hampshire? I get a kick out of going back. I spent so many days at the UNH Field House and watching all of their sports. I love just hanging out there. If there’s a UNH basketball game or a football game, I love going to those. I even love just getting in a work out, running around the track, or using the faculty weight room. It’s nostalgic for me. I also like to mix in a trip to The Bagelry in Durham. Obviously, I enjoy spending time with family because I don’t get to see them as much as I’d like and they are first and foremost.In N.H., we love our retail politics. Will you be standing at the polls holding a sign for your mom in 2012? Yeah, if I’m up there then I will definitely do that. I’ve done it in the past and if she runs for re-election, I will be there to help.