Baseball: Sam Fuld
Stanford centerfielder Sam Fuld has always seemed to be able to put the proper perspective on the game of baseball. He might be feeling it on the inside, but it would be tough to know after a game whether Fuld had just gone 4-for-4 with the game-winning hit or whether he was 0-for-4.
'There are so many ups and downs in baseball that I really do try to keep an even keel,' said Fuld.
Fuld has seen both the ups and the downs during his time here on The Farm.
Fuld made an almost immediate impact upon his arrival at Stanford for the 2001 campaign, earning Third Team All-American and Freshman All-American honors while hitting .357 and stealing 11 bases in his rookie collegiate season. Things got even better for Fuld in the postseason when the Cardinal reached the College World Series as he was named to the All-CWS and All-NCAA Regional teams while posting a .396 average in the NCAA Tournament while leading the Cardinal with 19 hits.
But Fuld's rookie campaign was not without difficult times, particularly off the field.
The first phone call he got from his parents was shocking. His younger sister Annie, then just a high school freshman, had been diagnosed with a brain tumor. Fortunately, doctors were able to remove the tumor, which was benign and Annie is doing well today.
Just about two weeks later, Fuld got another call that his grandmother had passed away and flew back to the East Coast during the season for the funeral.
'Those two events were monumental and that whole period of time just helped me put everything in perspective,' said Fuld. 'It made it easier to deal with any down times that might take place in baseball.'
But, there weren't many down times for Fuld on the field.
Fresh off his fantastic freshman season, he earned a spot on Team USA in 2001 and had an excellent summer with a .310 batting average.
Things got even better for Fuld during his sophomore season when he broke Stanford's single season record with 110 hits and batted .375 to earn First Team All-American honors. During one incredible stretch during the regular season, he posted 22 multiple-hit games over 25 contests. Fuld even found a power stroke, blasting eight homers after not going deep once in his freshman campaign. Fuld had another phenomenal College World Series and became the first Stanford player to ever be named to the All-CWS squad twice.
Then, out of nowhere the troubles at the plate started.
Fuld wasn't quite sure why, but he hit .190 for Team USA in the summer of 2002. Then, he started out the 2003 collegiate campaign by going hitless in his first 14 at bats and still could muster just a .217 batting average after the team's first 16 games. After starting the season on top of Stanford's all-time batting average list with a .367 career mark, Fuld quickly lost 17 points off his career average.
Still, he seemed mostly unfazed.
'I knew that there would be some ups and downs during my career, and that I wasn't always going to hit as well as I did during my first two seasons,' explained Fuld. 'There were times last summer when I wondered if I would ever break out of the slump, but ultimately I had confidence that I would. I made a few minor adjustments in my swing but really nothing major. It was more about just continuing to have confidence in my abilities. Something just clicks and you're back into it.'
Fuld is definitely 'back into it' now.
He recently posted a career-best 15-game hit streak and has hit safely in 18 of his last 19 games to raise his season average all the way up to .338 and put back 10 points on his all-time mark, within two percentage points of the late Jack Shepard, who has held the record for a half-century after hitting .362 from 1951-53.
'Any record that's been held for that long is very important,' acknowledges Fuld. 'But, it's something I'll probably appreciate more when I'm done playing. Right now, breaking the record is not in forefront of my mind, but if I do break the record it means that I'm doing well and helping the team win. So, in that respect it is pretty important.'
Once again, put in the proper perspective.
by Kyle McRae
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