Touring The Bases With…Billy Sample
The first major leaguer to come from James Madison University in Virginia, Billy Sample was drafted by the Texas Rangers in the 10th round of the 1976 amateur draft. The second baseman started his professional career with the Rookie League Rangers of the Gulf Coast League and batted .382 with an outstanding .505 on-base percentage and a slugging average of .566. He also showed off his speed and pilfered 27 bases in 30 attempts. The 22-year-old jumped to Double-A in 1977 and continued to impress, batting .348 with 86 runs, 78 RBIs and another 26 steals while splitting time at second base and the outfield. Sample became a full-time outfielder in 1978 with Tucson of the Pacific Coast League and continued to terrorize pitchers to the tune of a .352 average with 141 runs scored and 109 walks in 131 games.
Sample made his major league debut on September 2, 1978 and singled in his only at-bat. In eight games he went 7-for-15 with two doubles, two runs and three RBIs. In 1979, the outfielder batted .292 in 128 games, walked more than he struck out, and fielded flawlessly in 103 games. Sample played in the majors for nine years and batted .272 in 826 games, and committed only 18 errors, playing mostly as a left fielder for the Texas Rangers and New York Yankees, and a right fielder for the Atlanta Braves.
Here’s an audio interview with Sample.