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Rays Tales: The legend of Tampa Bay Rays' Sam Fuld

The Legend of Sam Fuld grew remarkably last week, via Twitter, through the media and, primarily, by what he did on the field, hitting, running and making diving catches. Here is a look at how the Legend was formed:

A son of Granite

Fuld's home state of New Hampshire, one of the original 13 colonies, is a sliver of New England, about 180 miles long and just 93 wide at its base, about the distance from St. Petersburg to Orlando, and not very populated, with only about 1.3 million residents. It is known as the Granite State, also as the Mother of Rivers; for its motto Live Free or Die; and as the site of early presidential campaigning. What it's not known for is producing major-leaguers: just 37 of the 15,000-plus who've played in the modern era (since 1900). The best to now? Probably Red Rolfe, a four-time All-Star infielder during a 10-season career with the Yankees in the 1930s. Others of note: Cards RHP Chris Carpenter, Giants RHP Brian Wilson, former O's LHP Mike Flanagan.

Did you know …

Fuld's play has made him topical, but he already was a pretty interesting topic of conversation. Consider: He has Type 1 diabetes (and has to give himself 4-5 shots a day), is one of the few Jewish big-leaguers, grew up carrying around a stats book as his "security blanket," began playing baseball with his grandmother, attended the highbrow Exeter Academy (at the same time as Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook), earned an economics degree in four years from Stanford (with a 3.15 GPA) and spent an offseason interning at Stats Inc. His mother, Amanda Merrill, is a New Hampshire state senator, and his father, Kenneth, is dean of the College of Liberal Arts and a psychology professor at the University of New Hampshire.

Also …

Sam is 29, married to a high school girlfriend (Sarah) with a 16-month-old son (Charles) and has the middle name Babson. He was one of the five players acquired from the Cubs in the trade of Matt Garza (who is 0-2, 6.27), had spent parts of three seasons in the majors (playing in 98 total games, always a late-season call­up), was a 10th-round pick in the 2004 draft (after not signing as a 24th-round pick the year before) and wasn't drafted out of high school despite being New Hampshire's player of the year.

He was a big kid

Two things stand out about Fuld when you see him on the field: how small he is (he admits to being 5-8 to 5-9, but claims the right to round up, and 172 pounds) and how recklessly he plays. More interesting, his mother said, is that neither used to be the case. "He took a lot of teasing when he was young because he was a real big kid," she said. "Big and strong." Until he stopped growing after the seventh grade. As for that flying all over the field stuff? "We don't know," she said. "He was a pretty reserved, cautious kid." About the wildest he got then? Teasing his younger sister, Annie, and sneaking under the tent flaps into a VIP and players party the night before the 1999 All-Star Game at Fenway Park to get autographs.

Furthermore …

Fuld played basketball and tennis growing up and played soccer and ran indoor track through high school. He took visits to Duke and North Carolina before picking Stanford, wanting to go somewhere warm so he could play more baseball. He has some interest in politics, having hung a few signs during campaigns by his mom, a second-term Democrat whose causes are the environment, energy policy and education. After baseball his true love is numbers; he was a mathlete in the sixth grade at Oyster River Middle School. If he weren't playing ball, he figures he'd either be teaching/coaching at a high school, learning the management side in a front office (which remains a post-playing possibility) or working on Wall Street.

Got a minute? Sam Fuld

Must-see TV? Mad Men.

Band you'd most like to be on stage with? Pearl Jam.

Big night out meal? I'd go filet with a sweet potato and broccoli.

Worst job? My first one: I was basically a glorified janitor at UNH (University of New Hampshire). I thought I was working grounds crew and turned out to be more like scraping gum off bleachers.

With your wife Sarah's permission, dream date? Natalie Portman. I'm going to have to tell my wife really quick about this.

Rays Rumblings

With businessman Jim Crane expected to soon buy the Astros, there's talk in Houston that he'll go hard after Rays exec VP Andrew Friedman, a Houston native, or senior VP Gerry Hunsicker, a former Astros GM. … A good guess on 3B Evan Longoria's return from his strained oblique? April 29, after the Rays return from likely still chilly Minnesota. … Bleacher Report named LHP David Price (@DAVIDPrice14) "the king of Twitter" among MLB players, saying "you would be hard pressed to find a player who interacts with his followers as much as Price." Also on the top 25, No. 5 Durham RHP Dirk Hayhurst (#TheGarfoose, though taking a break from social media) and No. 25 SS Reid Brignac (@reidbrignac).

Rays Tales: The legend of Tampa Bay Rays' Sam Fuld 04/16/11 [Last modified: Saturday, April 16, 2011 6:06pm]
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