Height Doesn’t Matter…..Size Of Heart Does
Aug 17, 2015Posted by james

Some athletes just never measured up by height standards. But short players still have achieved considerable success in Major League Baseball and other professional sports.

While the shortest player in baseball history was a publicity stunt (43-inch Eddie Gaedel batted once and walked for the St. Louis Browns), many other players who were taller than Eddie but shorter than most other big leaguers have appeared since 1900. Five players were just 5-foot-3. One inch taller was Hall of Fame outfielder Wee Willie Keeler. At 5-foot-5, Hall of Fame shortstop Rabbit Maranville and three-time All-Star Freddie Patek made headlines. Then, just an inch taller were Hall of Famers Phil Rizzuto, Miller Huggins and Hack Wilson, and just one up from that were HOFs Yogi Berra and Joe Morgan.

Presently, 5-foot-5 Jose Altuve, the shortest player in the major leagues in more than 30 years, is an All-Star with the Houston Astros. Dustin Pedroia at 5-foot-9 and Jimmy Rollins at 5-foot-7 have had exceptional long careers in the game.

In hockey, a couple of height challenged players, Martin St. Louis and Mats Zuccarello, made a huge impact for the New York Rangers during the last couple of seasons. The recently retired St. Louis is on his way to the Hockey Hall of Fame while Zucc certainly will continue to improve his game and perform at the highest level that is the NHL.

At 5-foot-3, Tyrone “Muggsy” Bogues holds the record as the shortest player in NBA history. In the NFL, 5-foot-7 Maurice Jones-Drew led the league in rushing with 1,606 yards during the 2011 season while Brandon Banks, also 5-foot-7, lead the NFL in kick returns and kick return yards that same season with 1,174 yards on 52 returns.

So, as you can see, the height of an athlete sometimes has nothing to do with his or her personal achievements, the role the athlete will play on a team, or the impact each will have for a team. For each of the players mentioned here, and for the many more not mentioned or still working their way up, we must remember always to look first at the size of their hearts. That is the true measure of success.

- Jim

The Success Of “Super Sam”
Aug 02, 2015Posted by james

Sam Fuld’s family had no illusion that he would become a big league baseball player. Sam was a chubby kid. His parents called him “Sumo Sam.” When he grew out of what his dad called a husky phase, Sam didn’t get much taller. But, he dreamed about playing professional baseball. He was realistic, though, as he also knew the odds were against him.

Sam doesn’t fit the mold of a major league baseball player. He is listed at 5-foot-10, but he is closer to 5-foot-9. He hails from chilly New Hampshire, where baseball gets a late start each year. Sam also is a type 1 diabetic and he must monitor his blood sugar between innings.

Sam was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 10. At first, he was puzzled by the constant testing and the related factors that affected his health. But, the medical issue became a family matter. Everyone focused on eating healthy food and they all got involved in the hourly obsession with blood sugar.

Through all this, Sam never gave up playing baseball. He finally made it to the majors with the Chicago Cubs during 2007. He then moved on to the Tampa Bay Rays, where he made some outstanding plays that frustrated New York Yankees fans. His defense became popular YouTube viewing and teammates started to wear “Super Sam” capes.

While in Tampa, Sam jumped at the chance to oversee sports camps for children with type 1 diabetes. He collaborated with the University of South Florida Diabetes Center. More than 100 boys and girls from all over the country have attended the camps during the past four years.

Back on the field, Sam today is playing for the Oakland Athletics. Jim “Catfish” Hunter once pitched for the A’s. He also was a diabetic. So was Ron Santo, who played third base with Sam’s first MLB team, the Chicago Cubs. Among his contemporaries who also have been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes are pitchers Brandon Morrow of the San Diego Padres and Dustin McGowan in the Philadelphia Phillies organization.

From “Sumo Sam” to “Super Sam,” Sam Fuld has realized a dream despite the obstacle of diabetes. He said the journey has been a huge rollercoaster ride, but that he has enjoyed every bump and turn. Most of all, he doesn’t have any regrets.

- Jim