Monthly Archives: May 2011

The Creation of a Legend

In tomorrow’s (Sunday’s) print version of the St. Pete Times there will be a long-form article on Sam Fuld and his rise to the Major Leagues. Lucky for us they’ve already released it online. It gives some background on Fuld’s family, his high school and college days, and puts them in context with his ups and downs so far this year. My favorite part, obviously, is his special game in Boston on April 11, or what I sometimes refer to as “Super Sam’s Super Cycle”:

During batting practice before the game, Fuld saw Barbin, the assistant baseball coach who remembered all those nighttime swings in the cage in the winter. Fuld jogged over.

“Look,” Fuld said, holding out his hands. “I’m shaking.”

His family went to their seats in Section 21, behind home plate, up under the stadium’s second-deck overhang, and his sister Annie thought: God, please let him just get one hit.

Fuld came up in the first and flied out to right. He came up in the second inning and hit a home run down the right-field line. Teammate Johnny Damon was waiting at home plate. “Hey,” the veteran Damon told him, “wave to your parents.” On his way back to the dugout, Fuld looked over his left shoulder, up at Section 21.

Then he came up in the fourth and doubled to left. He came up in the sixth and tripled to center. Sarah looked at Annie. Annie looked at her parents. “The whole night,” Annie would say later, “we just kept saying, ‘I can’t believe this is happening.’ ” A single, and Fuld would hit for what in baseball is called the cycle, meaning a single, a double, a triple and a home run, all by the same player in the same game. It is a rare accomplishment.

Fuld came up in the seventh and flied out to left. He came up in the ninth, one more try, and he lined an outside fastball into the left-field corner. Damon and Price, his teammates in the dugout, had the same thought: Stop at first.

Down in West Palm Beach, Jim Munsey, Fuld’s agent, whose sons played with Fuld when they were teenagers, was watching the game at his house on his 54-inch TV. Up in Exeter, Dennehy, his old high school coach, saw the ball leave his bat. At Fenway, in Section 21, the Fuld family watched the ball rattle up against the green wall.

They all had the same thought.

No way he’s stopping at first.

“I just assumed,” his mother would say, “he would go as far as he could.”

Fuld sprinted to first. Then he did what he does. He kept going.

I know that feel-good stories like these pop up around the league every so often and dot the landscape of baseball’s history. But that doesn’t make them any less interesting or meaningful. Indeed, they always seem to validate why we pay attention to this silly game in the first place.

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