Sam Fuld: From One Diabetic To Another: Chicago Cubs fans are inspired by the passion they see in outfielder Sam Fuld. What many may not know is that Sam lives with Type 1 diabetes and has done so since 1991.
Family members say that Sam had two loves growing up – baseball and numbers. He was a premier statistician and could rattle off figures that surprised most.
Sam’s dad, Ken, indicates there were never discussions of his son playing in the majors, but Sam quietly entertained those thoughts. ESPNChicago indicates that when he was in high school, “Fuld stopped growing while his peers continued. So he honed in on the technical tenets that were controllable: speed, productive at-bats, and a tenacious in-the-dirt defensive style often popularized by smaller players.”
Sam said, “I’d buy baseball cards and find anyone under 5-10 who played in the outfield and say, ‘That’s my guy; there’s hope.’”
At the age of 12 he was playing against those who were 16 and his love for numbers only grew. So what was it that caused a math geek/baseball player to pursue the sport of baseball while living with diabetes? Wikipedia explains, “At the age of 12, he met pitcher Bill Gullickson, who also had diabetes, and talked to him for two minutes. “That was enough to inspire me,” Fuld said. “Any time I can talk to young diabetic kids, I look forward to that opportunity,” said Gullickson Now, five or six times a day he (Sam) opens a small black case, withdraws a glucometer, pricks a finger (“It’s pretty painless; I’ve got calloused fingers”), and checks his blood sugar. He then gives himself shots of insulin at breakfast and dinner times.”
A baseball legacy was handed from one diabetic to another in those two minutes. The seed of hope grew in Sam’s mind, but he wouldn’t leave numbers behind.
Sam finished his college degree before heading to the pro fields. In fact he plans to go back to school in the off-season to complete some post-graduate work. His sights are set on a career that includes math once his baseball days are through although from the looks of this season that may be a while.
ESPNChicago states Sam, “Has become a fan favorite for his diving, acrobatic defense (like his July 1 somersault throw to home plate, timed perfectly to force out the runner). In his September 2007 major league debut, Fuld earned the Chicago Tribune’s nod for the ‘play of the year’ after making a wall-crashing grab and rocket throw resulting in a double play, known to many Cubs fans as “the catch.””
As perhaps a side lesson, in the life experiences we provide for our children we should note that Sam’s passion for baseball started at the age of three when his grandmother broke out the Wiffle ball and bat. From that moment on Sam was hooked on baseball.
While Sam has been part of the Chicago Cubs organization for a few years it was really only been this year that fans have been able to see him shine. He’s spent most of his time in a variety of towns and minor league clubs. Sam’s impressed with his current company, “I have so much respect for players like (Cubs first baseman) Derrek Lee. They’re great players. But to meet them and actually play with them and contribute and help them win is kind of a surreal experience. It doesn’t seem too long ago that I was going to Fenway and idolizing these guys. I feel like a fan at times. I have to remind myself I’m a player.”