William Amos Sample (born April 2, 1955), is a former outfielder in Major League Baseball who played for the Texas Rangers, New York Yankees, and Atlanta Braves in part of nine seasons spanning 1978–1986.
|Born: April 2, 1955|
|September 2, 1978, for the Texas Rangers|
|Last MLB appearance|
|October 5, 1986, for the Atlanta Braves|
|Runs batted in||230|
A native of Roanoke, Virginia, Sample grew up in Salem, Virginia and graduated from Salem's Andrew Lewis High School in 1973. While at school, Sample was a three-sport standout in football, basketball, and baseball. As a junior wide receiver on the football team, Sample scored the winning touchdown in a 1971 state AAA quarterfinal game. A victory later, Andrew Lewis advanced to the state championship, where Sample's team lost to T. C. Williams High School - a game dramatized with historical liberties in the motion picture Remember The Titans. After that, Sample attended Madison College (now James Madison University) for three years, before being drafted by the Rangers in 1976.
Major League Baseball careerEdit
Sample singled on his first major league pitch in 1978, made the Topps All Rookie Team in 1979, had his longest hitting streak (19 games) in 1981, was fifth in the American League in steals (44 of 52) in 1983, sixth in power-speed numbers and was the 10th toughest to strike out in the league, with only teammate Buddy Bell having hit more home runs of the preceding nine. Sample finished with a career .272 average.
Broadcasting and Writing careerEdit
Primarily a broadcaster/writer after his playing days, Sample has broadcast for the Braves, Seattle Mariners, and California Angels, as well as contributing to NPR, CBS Radio, ESPN, and MLB.com. As a writer, Sample has been published in Sports Illustrated and The New York Times, and was one of the columnists at the inception of USA Today's Baseball Weekly (now Sports Weekly). Sample was also the baseball consultant for Showtime's production Joe Torre: Curveballs Along the Way, which chronicled the Yankees' 1996 season.
Proving the apple doesn't fall far, Sample's daughter, Stacey, lettered in track (javelin) at the University of Rhode Island; his oldest son, Ian, caught 10 of Colt Brennan's NCAA record 58 touchdown passes at the University of Hawaii in 2006, in addition to penning a tome about his experiences at the university titled, "Once a Warrior." Sample's youngest son, Travis, is a nationally renowned motivational trainer/fitness guru, based out of Bergen County, N.J, who highlights the philosophy of entelechy among other self-determination end goals.
Billy Sample most recently added filmmaker to his résumé, producing his award-winning screenplay (Hoboken Film Festival 2011) into the movie "Reunion 108," an edgy, satirical comedy with a baseball backdrop directed by filmmaker James Suttles released in October 2013.
In June 2016, Sample self-published on Amazon his first book, A Year in Pinstripes ... And Then Some, which highlighted his 1985 season with the New York Yankees that included anecdotes from his childhood, as well as his seasons with the Texas Rangers and the Atlanta Braves.
On October 18, 2019, the stadium in which Sample played American Legion baseball and high school home football games known as Municipal Field when he was growing up, later known as Kiwanis Park was renamed Billy Sample Field at Kiwanis Park. It was also the Class-A minor league home of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Sample watched many future major leaguers in the earlier stages of their professional careers including future teammate Mario Mendoza.