Juan Milton Samuel was born on November 10, 1960 in the Dominican Republic. The five foot eleven right hand hitting Samuel, was originally signed as an undrafted free agent in 1980 by the Philadelphia Phillies.
The free swinging second baseman swung at anything in his direction & struck out quite often. He once said about getting out of his native country & getting into the majors "You don't walk off the Island, You Hit."
After hitting .320 at A ball in 1982 he went through the minors in 1983 batting .330 with 15 HRs at AAA ball, playing in 65 games. He got a September call up & saw action in the post season as a pinch runner & one at bat in the World Series (0-1) against the Baltimore Orioles.
Samuel was penciled in as the Phillies 1984 second baseman & came flying out of the gate. He became the first player in history to reach double figures in HRs, doubles, triples & stolen bases in his first four seasons.
He also would lead the lead in strike out in those same four seasons, striking out over 100 times six straight years. In his career he struck out over 100 times eight seasons.
In his rookie year he led the NL in triples with an incredible 19, hit 36 doubles, stole 72 bases (2nd in the NL) & hit .272 with 15 HRs. He made the All Star team & even got some votes for the MVP Award. He also led the NL in at bats (701) plate appearances (737) & errors made at second base (33). He was never a great infielder making quite a bit of errors at second base and eventually moved to the outfield.
Samuel spent six years in Philadelphia, hitting a high of 28 HRs with 100 RBIs in 1987, again leading the league in triples (15) at bats, plate appearances, strike outs & errors at second base. By 1988 his numbers had dropped off 12 HRs, 67 RBIs, .243 batting average although he was still stealing over 30 bases a year. The Phils were ready to move him & got one of the best deals of the eighties.
The Mets on the other hand were getting itchy because they had not reached the World Series again since 1986 & made one of their worst trades of that period. In June of 1989 the Mets traded away Lenny Dykstra & Rodger McDowell for Mr. Samuel.
He came to New York to become the Mets centerfielder and in July the team would also trade away Mookie Wilson. This had failure written all over it. Dykstra went on to win an NL MVP Award down the road in Philadelphia & Samuel was gone playing in Los Angeles by the next season.
Samuel made his Mets debut at Shea Stadium on June 19th against the Montreal Expos, he went hitless but drew a walk & stole a base. He hit his first Mets HR right before the All Star break & was batting .250 in the leadoff spot at the break. He began August with four straight multiple hit games, scoring five runs in that time.
It seemed he'd only drive in runs when the Mets were having big games, but on September 5th he singled off Chicago's Mitch Williams in the bottom of the 9th inning for a walk off win. He finished the year batting .228 with just 3 HRs 13 doubles 1 triple 28 RBIs & 75 strikeouts in 86 games since coming to the Mets. His best stat was his 31 stolen bases; a very good number considering his on base % was only .299%.
As for centerfield he only made three errors out there, posting a .986 fielding% with four assists. Right before Christmas he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Mike Marshall & Alejandro Pena.
Samuel was never the top player he was in his early days, in Los Angeles he hit .271 with 12 HRs 58 RBIs & 23 steals in 1991 his best year in the two seasons he spent there. He became more of a utility player going to Kansas City, Detroit, Cincinnati & Toronto where he spent his last four seasons.
He retired in 1998 after 16 seasons with 1578 hits 287 doubles 12 triples 161 HRs 396 stolen bases 703 RBIs a .315 on base % & a .259 batting average.
Retirement: After baseball Samuel became a coach with the Detroit Tigers from 1999-2006, that year he returned to the Mets organization as manager of the Binghamton Mets.
He went to the Baltimore Orioles as their third base coach from October 2006 – 2010 serving as interim manager after Dave Trembley's dismissal in 2010.
From 2011 to 2017 he was the Philadelphia Phillies third base coach after former Met coach Sam Perlozzo moved over to first base. The new regime of Phillies coaches did not retain Samuel. At age 57 he found himself not involved with baseball for the first time in four decades.
Honors: In 2008 he was inducted into the Phillies Wall of Fame at Citizens Bank Park.