Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Billy Sample on baseball cards

Outfielder Billy Sample played nine seasons in the major leagues for the Rangers, Yankees and Braves. In 826 games he hit .272 with 46 HR and 230 RBI. He has written the script for a baseball movie that was released in 2013 called Reunion 108, (out on DVD shortly with soundtrack available on iTunes and 31 other music sites) and has acted in that and several other movies. He kindly answered my questions about baseball cards.

"During my first full year in the majors (1979), I got a card request that went something like this, "Mr. Sample, I think you are an outstanding young player and I would love to get your autograph ... and oh, by the way, could you get me Buddy Bell, Al Oliver and Richie Zisk's autographs too?"  And for that one time, I actually did.  I quickly learned from my 'Rookie Mistake' 

In old age and twenty-eight years from my last groundout to short, I still get about five autograph request per week sent to the house, all in mint condition, amazing; anyway, on the Prospects cards which has Danny Darwin and Pat Putnam preceding me from left to right, if I'm the first one to sign, I'll often tell the collector to remind the other two, that I'm still the best-looking guy on the card.  Darwin can fight and Putnam is real strong, so I may have to use my separating attribute; speed, to avoid any possible altercations :-)  

Most of the baseball card pictures are taken early in the morning in spring training, and that's not my best look.  I have a card in a Braves uniform, with those thin spring training caps, where I am in much need of a haircut.  I am still trying to keep that card out of view of my aunts, Bernice and Wincey, who would still admonish me, as old as I am, for having loose ends of hair going every which-a-way, embarrassing the family and myself. :-)  

Aside from that previous card and one in a Texas uniform that is so underexposed that you can hardly see me, I like my cards.  
My favorite is one in a Yankees' uniform in which I am doffing my cap.  Okay, okay, so it's staged, yet, I believe there is only one other player who has taken a picture that way.   
I'm not a card collector, my mother-in-law, Gloria, mounted my cards on wood and gave it to me as a present, and a fan did that as well, which I appreciated.  Once when going to the premiere of the movie, Echelon 8, my buddy, Keith Collins, invited me to be a part of the red carpet arrivals.  Since I wasn't in the movie, I thought I might need to identify myself to the photographers, so I carried a bunch of my baseball cards, almost as a joke.  Well, the photographers were all baseball fans and lapped up the cards with conversations of how they internalized the game and its history."

Thanks! And thank you to Wolfman Shapiro, who writes the Ultimate Strat Baseball Newsletter, for the introduction to Sample, who he recently interviewed for his newsletter. He is interested in interviewing baseball card bloggers who played Strat-O-Matic for his newsletter, so contact him if you would like to be interviewed.


  1. Great post! Thanks, Bo & Billy!

  2. I love it when you get actual responses and stories from the players. This is great! Major props to Billy for caring enough to answer.