Sam Fuld reunites with his childhood inspiration: former Major Leaguer Bill Gullickson
In a rare "full circle" moment, Rays outfielder Sam Fuld found himself on the field before Tuesday night's game visiting with his childhood inspiration -- former Major League pitcher Bill Gullickson. Fuld, diagnosed with diabetes at age 10, met fellow Type 1 diabetic Gullickson at Fenway Park in 1993 and received words of inspiration from the veteran pitcher on how to handle the disease.
The meeting with Gullickson stuck with Fuld as he grew up and continued to play baseball, hoping to follow in his boyhood hero's footsteps and make it to the Major Leagues. Of course, Fuld did reach the Majors and got to return the favor by inviting Gullickson as his personal guest to the ballpark on Tuesday.
Fuld said of his original meeting with Gullickson as an 11-year old: "I was definitely a bit star-struck. I think I let him do all the talking. But his positive message had a big effect on me."
Gullickson pitched 14 big league seasons with a 162-136 record and 3.93 ERA. And he vividly remembers meeting with the young Fuld. "I shared some of my thoughts and hoped it helped. And I figured he'd wind up playing Little League in New Hampshire and maybe some high school ball."
When Fuld reached the Majors in 2009 with the Cubs, Gullickson found out after his sister read a newspaper article in which Fuld credited Gullickson with having an enormous impact on his life. The pair met later that year at a Marlins game near Gullickson's Miami-area home.
"I have to pinch myself when I realize how far things have come for me, and to have it come full circle is pretty incredible," Fuld said. "That moment when I first met him meant so much to me. And as result, I've remembered that and wanted to have an impact on other kids. So in a way, that one gesture of his has helped make an impact on hundreds of kids."
-- Jonathan Gantt and Dave Scheiber / MLB.com Real-Time Correspondents