William Amos Sample (born April 2, 1955 in Roanoke, Virginia), is a former professional baseball player who played in the Major Leagues primarily as an outfielder from 1978-1986. Sample played for the Texas Rangers (1978-1984), New York Yankees, (1985) and Atlanta Braves (1986).
Sample grew up in Salem, Virginia, and graduated from Salem's Andrew Lewis High School in 1973. While at Andrew Lewis, Sample was a three-sport standout in football, basketball, and baseball. As a junior wide receiver on Andrew Lewis' 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. Sample attended Madison College (now James Madison University) for three years, before being drafted by the Rangers in 1976.
Major League Baseball career
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.
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, Nikki, 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 into the movie "Reunion 108," an edgy, satirical comedy with a baseball backdrop directed by filmmaker James Suttles due for release in 2014.