Sam Fuld

Year of Graduation: 
Sam Fuld

"Following that championship game with a win over Andover the next weekend to close out the year, it’s a feeling I won’t ever forget.”

"Quit dancing and play soccer!”

Those loud instructions caught Sam Fuld ’00 off guard. He was a great athlete, played club soccer growing up, and thought his tryout during his first fall on campus was going a little better than that.

Former Big Red coach Bill Dennehy was unimpressed: “He was dancing with the soccer ball, being all fancy. I wanted to play straightforward and we had 100 kids trying out. That wasn’t my style, so I cut him.”

“I don’t know if ‘fancy’ is the right word,” Fuld argues with a laugh. “I might have had a little more flair to my game. But I thought I was good enough to at least make JV.”

After a second thought and a sit-down meeting between the legendary coach and the perplexed prep, Fuld was added to the JV roster. He quickly worked his way up to varsity. “I had a quick conversation with [the other coaches] and said, ‘We ought to give this kid another look,’” Dennehy says, chuckling. “Sam and I often kid about this now.”

It was an honest introduction to Coach Dennehy and the blue-collar, hard-nosed approach with which Fuld would become familiar as he played soccer and baseball — where there was no question about his ability — under Dennehy for the next four years.

“Coach Dennehy is one of the best; he means the world to me,” says Fuld of his former coach and long-time friend. “I’ve learned so much from him and Coach [Dana] Barbin — unsurprisingly a lot about mental toughness.” 

Now, it is Fuld’s turn to pick the players. In December, Fuld was named general manager of the Philadelphia Phillies. While you could categorize Fuld as a baseball lifer, it was a quick rise through the front-office ranks to one of the premier jobs in Major League Baseball. 

Just 36 months removed from the last of eight seasons playing in the majors, Fuld has ascended quickly within the Phillies organization. He kicked off his post-playing career as the team’s Major League Player Information Coordinator in 2017 before becoming the Phillies’ Director of Integrative Baseball Performance — roles that focused on utilizing analytics and sports science. Now he will work closely with two-time World Series champion and President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski on bringing a title back to one of the most rabid fan bases in sports. 

“It has only been a few months into the job but it feels like it could be a full year,” Fuld says. “Some days it feels like I’ve been drinking from a firehose, but I’d be gasping for more air if I didn’t have the great resources around me, including Dave.”

A continued role in baseball after his playing days were over felt like a natural progression for the Stanford University grad, who will rely on his experiences as a player to help aid in strategies in the front office. 

“Really from the day my playing career started, I wasn’t sure how long it was going to last,” Fuld says humbly. “It could have been the next day that I was looking for what was life after baseball. I was always thinking about it in some respect — searching for something that would be interesting, challenging and satisfying. I knew staying in baseball would fit.” 

Fuld’s career on the diamond in Exeter is one not many will forget. Mammoth home runs, leaping and diving catches in the outfield and speed around the basepaths led Big Red to a title in 1999 and droves of Major League scouts to the Exeter campus. 

“One game Sam hit a ball that almost hit the mound on the JV field beyond the varsity outfield,” Dennehy recalls vividly. “One scout came over to me during the game and said a bunch of them were having a bet on how far that ball was hit. After the game, I grabbed a tape and walked it out. It was like 445 feet; the scouts could not believe it. I kept telling them do not underestimate this kid.” 

It was hits like that — along with batting over .600 in two out of his four seasons in a Big Red uniform — that helped bring Exeter to a 16-2 overall record and the Central New England Prep School Baseball League title in ’99, one season after not even making the league tournament. The team was comprised of a roster of just 12 players, but their talent and cohesion allowed for something special. 

“I don’t care how good you are, you just don’t get a chance to win many championships as an athlete,” Fuld says. “Winning that championship game mattered a lot. There’s no better feeling. Following that championship game with a win over Andover the next weekend to close out the year, it’s a feeling I won’t ever forget.” 

Following graduation, Fuld enjoyed a decorated career at Stanford, where he was a two-time All-American and is still the all-time program leader in runs scored (268) and is second in hits (356). After being drafted after his junior season, he decided to return to Stanford and finish his economics degree. He was drafted once again after his senior season by the Chicago Cubs and started his professional career. 

Fuld made his big-league debut in 2007 and stuck around the majors for parts of eight seasons with the Cubs, Tampa Bay Rays, Minnesota Twins and Oakland Athletics. Now in Philadelphia with his wife and fellow Exeter grad, Sarah (Kolodner) ’01, and four children, Fuld is spending the early months of the season at the Phillies’ spring training facility in Clearwater, Florida. Dennehy is still on the sidelines watching. 

Enjoying his retirement after 46 years of service at the Academy and spending winters in Florida, Dennehy has been a Phillies spring training season ticket holder and could not be happier to have a front-row seat to Fuld’s newest gig. “Sam is a superstar in everything he does,” Dennehy says. “I’m not the least bit surprised, but I am so happy to see his success.”

Brian Muldoon