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My Tribute To Juan Samuel (Sammy)

Sammy will be to a lot of people just a bench player, or a first base coach with the Detroit Tigers. There is so much more to this wonderful person. Sammy was not only a great ball player in his time, but also a warm, and wonderful person. A lot like Shawn Green in fact, but on a more outgoing scale.

Sadly I did not really get to know Sammy too well until his last year in Toronto, (1998,) but since then he has become a firm favorite of mine.

One of the first things that showed me just how nice he is, was when my friend and I were in Detroit a couple of years back. We were sitting in our hotel lobby when Sammy came by, with a very beautiful woman. He brought her over and introduced her to us as his girlfriend, Connie. We chatted for a while, and when they left both Rachel and myself commented on the fact that he had pointed us out to her and had brought her over for a chat. He introduced us to her as his friends, not as fans. We were both very impressed.

A few months later we were back in Detroit. Connie stept into the elevator with us and recognised us straight away. She chatted for a while, and said she hoped to see us again soon. Again we were impressed by the fact that she remembered us.

Since then Sammy always comes over for a chat and a hug whenever I see him. Rachel is no longer into baseball so I often go to games with other friends, Sammy always asks how she is though.

Last September whilst I was in Detroit yet again he gave me his cap, and signed it for me. I wore it for the whole series, and now it has pride of place with my other baseball collectables.

Thank you Sammy for your friendship and kindness, and don't forget, "run Sammy, run!"

Sammy Facts

From the Detroit Tigers official web page

Birthdate December 9, 1960
Opening Day Age 38
Birthplace San Pedro de Macoris, DR
Residence Pembroke Pines, FL
Bats/Throws R/R
Height/Weight 5-11/190

Retired as a player after the 1998 season and joins the Tigers for his first year as a coach, a position to which he was named on January 5, 1999.

Played professionally for 19 seasons, the last 16 on the major league level...played with seven organizations during his career.

Was originally signed as a non-drafted free agent by the Phillies on April 29, 1980.

A three-time All-Star, Samuel earned NL Rookie of the Year honors from The Sporting News in 1984 when he tied for the league lead with 19 triples and placed second with 72 stolen bases.

Was the first player in major league history to reach double figures in doubles, triples, home runs and stolen bases in each of his first four major league seasons.

During his big league career, Samuel swiped 396 bases, seventh among all active players at the close of the 1998 campaign. Also reached double figures in homers nine times.

Finished his career with 1,578 hits in 1,720 games and a .258 lifetime batting average, including a .269 mark in American League action.

Played outfield, first base, second base and third base during his career.

Joined the Tigers in 1994 as a non-roster invitee to Spring Training and hit .309 in 59 games...batted .281 with 10 homers in 76 games of action for Detroit in 1995.

Joined the Blue Jays in 1997 as a free agent...most recently, he appeared in 43 games for the Blue Jays in 1998, batting .180 with one homer and two RBI, but his 13 stolen bases marked his highest total since 1991.

Holds the major league mark for most at-bats by a righthanded hitter in one season with 701 in 1984...that mark is the most for any NL batter in a single campaign.

Appeared in the 1983 World Series for Philadelphia, going 0x1 in three games.

Has two children, Noemy (6/22/89) and Samuel (3/4/97).