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The Legend of Sam Fuld Grows

Jewish Rays left fielder has the stats, and knows them, too

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Sam Fuld makes a trademark grab earlier this month.(J. Meric/Getty Images)

When you are as likable as Tampa Bay Rays left fielder Sam Fuld—Stanford-educated, known for diving plays in the outfield, and, oh yeah, nearly hitting for the cycle and for a time leading the league in batting average—you are bound to get wider notice, and, duly, he got his Times profile yesterday. Fuld, 29, was seen as a largely irrelevant throw-in among the players the Chicago Cubs sent to Tampa for pitcher Matt Garza, according to Jonah Keri, who just published a book about the Rays. But with the sudden retirement of Manny Ramirez, a spot emerged for Fuld to become the hottest player (batting .348, with seven stolen bases) on one of baseball’s hottest teams (they’ve won eight of their last 11).

What’s remarkable about Fuld, as both the Times notes and Keri noted in a podcast he presciently did with him in January, is that he is both exactly the sort of player whom statistically savvy organizations like the Rays are looking for—above-average on defense, smart at base-running, able to work the count—and is himself a statistically savvy guy who has pursued a masters in statistics and who interned at top sports stats outfit Stats LLC, charting pitches for velocity, location, and pitch-type. “As monotonous as that sounds, I actually enjoyed it a lot,” he told Keri. “I just sat around in this room with about 20 other like-minded guys who enjoyed doing what I did.” Funny, that’s how I spend my day.

The Times doesn’t mention Fuld’s religion, noting only, “Fuld is also the kind of player [Rays general manager Andrew] Friedman wanted to be as an outfielder at Tulane, with similar sensibilities.” And actually, on his podcast, Keri doesn’t either, although I know that Keri, himself a Member of the Tribe, is aware of Fuld’s background. Keri does mention that the Rays very much see Fuld as someone they would like to keep in their organization after he retires from playing, much like, Keri says, Gabe Kapler—also a Jewish ballplayer.

What else? Oh, right: Legend of Sam Fuld. Or, more precisely: #legendofsamfuld has become a popular Twitter hashtag, adorning sayings that are reminiscent of Chuck Norris jokes. “Sam Fuld once struck out just to see how it felt,” reads one. “He didn’t like it. AT ALL. #LegendofSamFuld.” Here’s my favorite: “Manny who? #LegendofSamFuld.” Indeed.

Sam Fuld’s Value to the Rays Goes Beyond Numbers [NYT]
The Jonah Keri Podcast, Episode 16 [Jonah Keri]
Related: The Extra 2% [Amazon]
Earlier: Sam Fuld, Your New Baseball Hero

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vacciniumovatum says:

Is his mother Jewish?

@ Marc: Thanks! Love the baseball coverage!

@ Vacciniumovatum: Really, now?

vacciniumovatum says:

No “really”; he’s not Jewish unless his mother is, or he converted.
If his dad is Jewish, it’s nice that he’s got Jewish ancestry, but that’s it.

@ Vacciniumovatum: True ‘nough…presuming he’s not a Reform Jew, in which case his movement accepts patrilineal descent and he’s a Jew, no matter which parent is which. Different playbooks for each movement.

Jerry says:

Fuld was not born of a Jewish mother.

Ellen Peck says:

He’s a Jew, period.

@vacuouscranium What century are you living in?? When an individual declares themselves a Jew, a choice to many, in spite of all that comes with it, along with the joy that it imparts, who has the right to question?? I am forever grateful to see well behaved, hard working athletes identify themselves as Jews, and act as role models for new generations.

Mr Mel says:

Follow the dozen or so Major Leaguers on the Jewish Major Leaguers website. They also report on some hot Minor Leaguers of our persuasion. Here’s the link:

Sderot says:

Ellen Peck;
He’s not a Jew, period! Only Jewish women can give birth to and raise Jewish children!

Dick Fuld says:

His dad is Jewish, and his uncle is (Jewish) Dick Fuld (of Lehman notoriety). And oh yes — the Jewish Baseball News, which actually investigates these things and won’t ID a ballplayer as Jewish unless he says he is good with that, ID’s him as Jewish (along with Ryan Braun, Ike Davis, Kevin Youkilis, Danny Valencia, Gabe Kapler, Jason Marquis, Craig Breslow, and John Grabow). Braun’s dad is Israeli. Davis and Marquis lost family in the Holocaust. Kapler has tatoos (oy vey) relating to his Judaism on his legs (Never Again … that sort of thing). Ryan Kalish also is a tribesman. Just by the Jewish Sports Review, or check out that Jewish Baseball News website (just checked it out — good stuff).

Dick Fuld says:

Oh … and he celebrates Hannukah, lighting candles … not that he has to to be Jewish.


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The Legend of Sam Fuld Grows

Jewish Rays left fielder has the stats, and knows them, too

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