Sam Fuld: Uniqueness Flying High

When Sam Fuld enters a baseball clubhouse, it’s safe to say that he stands out. It’s nothing particularly conspicuous, besides a smaller-than-average frame. But dig into the outfielder’s background and makeup, and the distinguishable characteristics are all too apparent. His Uniqueness as an athlete is especially noteworthy, and although it has been the cause of teammate jests and a chip on his shoulder, Fuld has defiantly thrown the stereotypes aside on his way to becoming a Major League ballplayer.

Over the years, the state of New Hampshire hasn’t exactly been a hotbed for professional baseball talent. Don’t tell that to Sam Fuld. Despite the cold winters and relatively short baseball seasons, Fuld flourished in the New England climate. More interesting, however, is the internal environment from which he came. Not many Major League Baseball (MLB) players have a dad who is a college dean or a mom who is a state senator. Fuld had both. Needless to say, he grew up where academics were taken seriously and where college was expected. That led Fuld to attend Phillips Exeter Academy, where he finished as a First-Team All-American and top-20 player in the country.

With numerous college programs happy to offer Fuld a scholarship, he ultimately chose Stanford University, where he earned a degree in economics. Maybe it was the weather change he wanted. But it probably had something to do with the school’s sterling reputation as a baseball program and academic institution. After starting for four years, Fuld wrapped up his amateur career as a two-time All-American and the school’s all-time leader in runs scored. Not bad for a guy who’s about 5’9 and 175 pounds.

As a professional player, Fuld’s size would be heavily scrutinized. His collegiate production suggested that he was an elite talent, however, he was selected in the 10th round as the 306th overall pick in the 2004 MLB draft. Many teams passed on Fuld because they felt his size didn’t translate well on the highest stage. Many teams were also aware that he was a type-one diabetic.

Diabetes is another aspect of Fuld’s makeup that is not synonymous with being an MLB player. It’s certainly not an everyday sight in the clubhouse to see someone pricking his finger to check blood sugar or injecting a needle into his stomach to insert insulin. Despite requiring roughly six finger pricks and five injections each day, Fuld hasn’t let the meticulous process get in the way of his goals. On the contrary, it’s served as more fuel to the fire, as he seeks to disprove the stigma surrounding the condition. In MLB clubhouses, where even minor discrepancies in player backgrounds and behaviors attract significant attention, Fuld has used his unique story as motivation.

He’s also channeled his experiences into opportunities to assist others battling diabetes. Whenever possible, Fuld enjoys interacting with children affected by the disease. He lets them know how he’s dealt with it, and more importantly, that it isn’t necessarily a barrier to establishing and accomplishing goals. Furthermore, Fuld has donated proceeds from auction sales to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

To many children who also suffer from diabetes, Fuld has surely been a hero. He may not quite be a real-life Superman, but watch him soar through the air for spectacular diving catches, and one may suddenly think otherwise. Fuld has shown that he is one of baseball’s elite defensive outfielders, namely for his extreme athletic ability and complete disregard for his own body. The videos of some of his top grabs serve as ample evidence of his outstanding talent. Which leads to another aspect of his makeup – he plays the game the right way. Each play is top speed and full intensity. Every day you know he’ll leave his best on the field.

As a result, Fuld has become a fan favorite in the MLB. His story certainly stands out and is worth highlighting because it helps to reduce the stigmas and stereotypes associated with the sport. There aren’t many undersized, Jewish, New Hampshire-raised, type-one diabetic, high-flying MLB players pursuing a master’s degree in statistics from Stanford. But Fuld shows that you can have all those characteristics and still pursue, and attain, those goals.

In many different ways, Fuld is an inspiration. He’s broken the mold numerous times and come out on top, and there’s clearly no one else like him in the MLB. The truth is his gravity-defying catches in big league ballparks are single-handledly Athlete CRUSH worthy, but given the entire package that is Sam Fuld, it’s hard not to recognize what he’s done and what he represents.

 

Follow Sam Fuld on Twitter @SamFuld5

Written by Athlete CRUSH Staff

Posted 8 November 2016