Interview: Current MLB Player and Nightly Web Gem Specialist Sam Fuld

So, let’s make one thing perfectly clear I am not a Cubs fan. I live and breath White Sox baseball. I made my wife swear to raise our future children wearing White Sox Black. They will treat loving the White Sox like their religion. One of the worst days of my life was passing on tickets to Buehrle’s perfect game. It pains me to lose any player and I refer to Kenny Williams as the real Messiah. My favorite player of all time in any sport is Frank Thomas. 2005 was the greatest year of my life. I have been to numberous SoxFests. The first thing I will buy when I move back to Chicago will be season White Sox tickets. The name Ryan Sa&^berg is a swear word in my house.

That being said, occasionally there is a Cubs player, here and there, that I enjoy watching. I was a fan of former Cubs Andrew Dawson (an Expo according to the HoF), I think getting Derek Lee was a great move by the Cubs, and I respect Ron Santo’s push for HoF status. There is another guy in that mix named Sam Fuld. Sam Fuld is a human highlight reel. His outfield grabs are web gems every night. The guy can flat out play the field. And he happens to have some Jewish lineage. So, TGR got in touch with his agent, who is a very nice guy by the way. Sam agreed to answer some questions for us. Sam is the first current major leaguer to appear on TGR (Craig Breslow coming up soon). So we are super excited to have him. And we wish him much individual success this upcoming season.

Hope baseball fans enjoy this one.

Interview

1) How did you get started with baseball? Were you always an outfielder?

I played baseball at a very early age, hitting whiffle balls with my grandmother when I was about 3, and then playing for a Little League team coached by my dad at about age 5.  I played a lot of 1st base through Little League, but once I got on the big diamond and once everyone caught up to me in height, I played only outfield (and pitched, too).
2) You made Sportscenters’ Top Ten and Baseball Tonight’s Web Gems numberous times last season. What is it like seeing yourself on those shows? Is your defense something your take pride in?
It’s pretty fun going home after a game and being able to watch yourself on Sportscenter and it’s certainly something I never dreamed I would be able to do. I feel like the rise of highlight shows has changed certain sports and individual players, but I promise I try to make great plays to help out our team, not get on TV. That’s just a bonus. I’ve always felt that defense is a big part of my game ever since I began playing outfield. For whatever reason I enjoyed that part of the game, so when I work on my defensive skills, it doesn’t feel like a chore to me.
3) What are some of your most meaningful accomplishments as a player? What are some of your goals?
To make the Major Leagues in 2007 was an enormous individual achievement. And then two years later, it felt amazing to finally get my first Major League hit. I’m also very proud of earning a scholarship to play at Stanford University. I rarely set specific goals because I feel they can be limiting, so I keep them simple: continue to improve, never get satisfied and always try to enjoy myself.
4) As a White Sox fan I have to know, what is it like playing for the Cubs? Who did you root for as a child?
I feel lucky and spoiled to come up in this organization. While we’ve been held championship-less for awhile, the history of the Cubs is impressive, and it’s an honor to be around some of the former greats: Ernie Banks, Billy Williams, Fergie Jenkins, Ryne Sandberg, etc. It speaks to the quality of the organization that these guys are around us every Spring Training and throughout the season. I grew up about an hour from Boston, so I grew up deep in Red Sox Nation. I think the similarities between the two clubs are amazing: the great fan support, the tradition-rich stadiums, the long WS droughts (hopefully we can join them as Champs this year!).
5) This is a Jewish sports blog, so I am wondering what was your Jewish upbringing like? Is there anything about your Jewishhood that you take a lot of pride in?
I grew up with a Jewish father and Christian mother. We always celebrated both Hanukkah and Christmas and both Easter and Passover, but my parents pressed neither religion on me very hard. Even though I was never Bar Mitzvahed and do not practice Judaism, I do take a lot of pride in having a Jewish background.
6) How do the Cubs look going into this season?
I think we’ll have a very successful season. We had a lot of our star players have off-years last season and I’m very confident those guys will turn it around. Despite the general consensus that we had such a poor year, we still finished above .500 and in 2nd place.
7) Is there added pressures when playing your crosstown rivals in the White Sox?
I’ve only played them once (it was a make-up game last year in early September), but you could feel a different energy at the ballpark that day. It was a little more hostile, which was especially noticeable since Wrigley is usually such a friendly place. Even though interleague play, and this rivalry, is relatively new, we still want the bragging rights for the city.
8) Most important question. What is you favorite Chicago pizza place?
Hate to go mainstream here, but Giordano’s. I could eat deep dish every night, but I don’t think I’d be playing CF too long if I did that. Haven’t had a chance to try too many places yet, so I’m always up for suggestions.
9) Anything else you would like to tell the TGR audience?
I don’t yet have a foundation, but I’m a big supporter of JDRF (being a type I diabetic myself). I bought the domain samfuldbaseball.com and hope to have a website up and running in the near future. I’m also running a baseball camp in Portsmouth, NH the weekend of January 30,31: http://www.usatrainingcenters.com/
Again thank you to Sam Fuld for his time. We will be keeping an eye on you throughout the year.
And Let Us Say…Amen.
-Jeremy Fine
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