May 29, 2004
It has been a memorable career for Stanford centerfielder Sam Fuld. The four-year starter has earned a place in the Stanford record books by being both a consistent presence in the outfield and a productive hitter at the top of the Cardinal lineup. Fuld is the all-time Stanford leader in runs scored (263) and at bats (1048) and is within striking distance of the all-time hits record.
'I really never thought it would be like this [breaking all the Stanford records],' said Fuld, who has played in 247 consecutive games for the Cardinal. 'It's pretty flattering because there's so much tradition here and so much history. A lot of things have gone my way in order for those things to happen. I've been lucky, and I can attribute it to a lot of other people and good fortune.'
This season is particularly special for Fuld as he wraps up one of the most productive careers ever at Stanford. The two-time All-American and three-time All-Pac-10 choice has been a key contributor to the team in all four of his years on the Farm. As a freshman, Fuld quickly established himself as Stanford's everyday centerfielder and finished the year second on the club in runs scored (56) and third in batting average (.357). He had a huge sophomore season, setting Stanford's single-season hits record (110) and leading the team in batting average (.375). His monster season landed him on every All-American team in the country and earned him the recognition of his teammates, who honored him with the Come Through Award. Fuld's junior year saw him equal a Stanford single-season record, this time in runs scored (83), and he finished the year with a .321 batting average and 97 hits.
Fuld has continued to contribute this year by getting on base ahead of Stanford's big bats and scoring runs. He is currently third on the club with 57 runs scored. The team arguably has one of the most potent offenses in the country, and Fuld is happy to be a part of it all.
'It's been a fun team to be a part of,' Fuld said. 'Offensively, I think it's the best group I've been with. One through nine, this lineup is more dangerous than any other lineup that I've been a part of ... We're not just limited to hitting home runs. We can hit for average and run a little bit.'
In addition to his contributions at the plate, Fuld has been a leader on the team as one of the five seniors on the Cardinal squad. As a senior, Fuld naturally feels a certain connection with the team.
'Having been here for four years now, I think you just naturally take a leadership role, especially having played as much as I have,' explained Fuld. 'I think I have taken that responsibility, along with the other seniors - guys like Brian Hall, Jonny Ash, David O'Hagan and Drew Ehrlich.
'I think every year, the group of seniors really feels like it's their team,' Fuld added. 'We've been through so much, and we've put in so much time. Like Coach Marquess says, it's our year to put our stamp on the program. We realize that and we obviously realize we have something special going here, so it would be nice to have us do well as seniors.'
The success of the team this season would not be complete without a trip to Omaha and a chance to compete for the NCAA title. The Cardinal is aiming for its sixth consecutive trip to the College World Series. Making it to Omaha would certainly be a nice finish for Fuld, who decided to return to Stanford for his senior season after being drafted in the 24th round by the Chicago Cubs last year.
'Certainly one of the reasons I came back was to get another chance to win that title,' Fuld said. 'But even if we don't, by no means do I regret coming back. I always felt that even if I had an awful year, that I would still be glad that I came back just because there were so many other reasons outside of baseball: getting my degree out of the way, spending another year here. I think sometimes you forget how special your college years are.'
Fuld looks back appreciatively at his Stanford experiences on and off the field. He recognizes his development as a person and the value of the friendships he has made.
'There are so many lessons you learn spending four years here and so many hours at the field with a bunch of great guys,' Fuld said. 'You learn a lot about each other and yourself. Just to be able to develop some great relationships with teammates has been great.
'I think one of the things you take away from playing under Coach Marquess is whatever you do, be it baseball or anything else, you do it well and you do it with a passion,' Fuld continued. 'You do it with excitement because, really, that's the way to go about things. Not only in sports, but beyond sports. [Coach Marquess] really takes pride in what he does as a coach and that kind of rubs off on you as a player. Whether it be playing baseball, or teaching or being a doctor, the goal is to be real passionate and excited about it.'
Fuld hopes that his passion and excitement for baseball will carry him far as he embarks upon his professional career.
'I feel that I have the passion and drive to get to the highest level that I'm capable of,' said Fuld. 'Whether that's somewhere in the minor leagues or major leagues, that remains to be seen.'
Wherever Fuld ends up, he'll certainly be taking a part of Stanford with him on his journey.
by Paulina Kuo