It’s the middle of baseball season, and if you love the game you’d enjoy Salem native Billy Sample’s book “A Year in Pinstripes. . .And Then Some” which is available through Amazon books. Sample sent me a copy of the book this week and I can’t put it down, unless it’s to write this column.
The book was originally released in 2016 but Billy recently updated the book to the present edition.
A 1973 graduate of Andrew Lewis High School who played three sports for the Wolverines, Billy was a standout receiver on the “Remember the Titans” football team made famous by the movie of that name. He went on to play baseball at James Madison University(then Madison College) and was drafted by the Texas Rangers in 1976.
Billy played seven years with Texas, where he had his best seasons. He 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.
In February of 1985 Sample was traded to the Yankees for Toby Harrah and spent the 1985 season in the Big Apple. The book chronicles that season, with anecdotes from his time growing up in Salem and playing professional baseball.
Billy played one more season in the big leagues, with the Atlanta Braves in 1986. During that season a group of Salem fans took a bus to Atlanta to watch him play, and I was lucky enough to be included in that group. Billy posed for a photo with the fans at the game and met with a group later that night to reminisce.
After his playing career Sample became a broadcaster, writer and movie producer of national acclaim. 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.
Billy 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 and released in October 2013.
With all that fame, Billy has never forgotten his roots. He visits Salem often and is a member of the Salem-Roanoke Valley Hall of Fame and the Salem Education Hall of Fame. He’s also in the JMU Hall of Fame and is scheduled to be induced into the Shenandoah Valley League Hall of Fame on July 8. He was the league MVP in 1975.
I highly recommend Billy’s book for some good summer reading. If you’re a long time baseball fan like myself you’re sure to enjoy it.
SPORTS FOUNDATION ELECTIONS
The Salem Sports Foundation will be holding elections for vacant board positions at the next meeting on July 12th at 7 pm at Salem High School.
Nominations will be taken up until the time of the vote. Those interested should attend this meeting as a minimum number of members are required to be in attendance for voting.
There are several positions available. Contact Van Gresham at 540 389-1088 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
RC PITCHER RAISES MONEY FOR VOLCANO VICTIMS IN GUATEMALA
Diego Meneses, a pitcher for the Roanoke College baseball team, is pitching in to help raise money for volcano victims in his native Guatemala.
Meneses hails from Guatemala City and was a senior pitcher for the Maroons in the spring. Recently a volcano in Guatemala killed more than 100 people and Meneses has helped start a group called “Striking Out Poverty” to lend assistance to the victims. The money goes toward providing necessities like medicine, water and clothing to many who were already impoverished.
“You miss home, and then you see this tragedy happening and you can’t do anything about it,” said Meneses. “ So, the least we can do is fundraising money and sending it back home to buy medicine, soap to shower, water, just basic stuff.
Any donation will be appreciated. You can donate by going to the Roanoke College website at www.roanokemaroons.com and clicking on the link at the bottom of the article highlighting Meneses.
Guatemala is a small country (about 108,889 sq. km.) located in Central America. Its population is about 16.5 million people and, according to a research by the World Bank, 59.3 percent of the population lives below the line of poverty and 23 percent live in extreme poverty. This adds up to more than 80 percent of the population living in poverty.
Due to the extreme poverty most children are forced to drop out of school in order to help their parents or because they can’t afford their uniforms, school supplies or transportation. According to The Global Education, there are more than 2 million children who don’t attend school, as only 40 percent of children in the population are enrolled in schools all over the country.