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Jeff Samardzija

Cubs' pitcher and Valparaiso grad Jeff Samardzija will be imortalized with a bobblehead promotion giveaway at the May 29 game against the San Diego Padres.

The honors just keep coming for Valparaiso's Jeff Samardzija.

At September's Valparaiso Homecoming Football Game against Merrillville High School, Samardzija's No. 3 jersey was retired.

"I was defintely excited, and it meant even more to me when I heard my good friend Jason Renn was the main guy behind it," Samardzija, a 2003 graduate of VHS told Times sports columnist Jim Peters.

"(That was) some of the best days as an athlete, period. For baseball, you think back to Little League, and for football, you remember the days of playing with your childhood buddies on the Pop Warner and high school level."

(According to Peters, Renn and Samardzija are the only four-year starters Vikings coach Mark Hoffman has had in his three-and-a-half decades "steering the ship.")

Samardzija starred in football and baseball as a Viking and did the same at Notre Dame, choosing his professional career to be a pitcher with The Chicago Cubs rather than life as a wide receiver.

And as Peters described to me, "after some struggles, he appears to have turned a corner, becoming a workhorse out of the bullpen for the Cubs."

He's also had a great spring training season with his team.

Now, it appears his hard work (and after re-signing to stay with the Cubs), has earned him a sign (of sorts) of appreciation.

According to the "promotions schedule" already posted at cubs.com, Samardzija, 27, is being honored with his own bobblehead likeness to be given out to fans at the 1:20 p.m. Tuesday, May 29 game.

It's described as "Exclusive limited-edition Jeff Samardzija Bobblehead as presented by Fisher Nuts" and will be given out to the first 10,000 fans who arrive to this game against the San Diego Padres.

Samardzija, who grew up in Valparaiso, was a letterman in football, basketball and baseball. 

His father Sam Samardzija, who still lives in Valparaiso, was a semi-pro hockey player, and older brother Sam Samardzija Jr. was an All State football and baseball player who attended Indiana University and now works as a sports agent in Major League Baseball.

Remember, Samardzija's storied start with the Cubs includes that fateful day on July 25, 2008, when he was called up to join the bullpen to replace Kerry Wood, who was placed on the disabled list.

Samardzija, who is proud of his Serbian and Native American heritage, is close to his family.

Now, all we have to do is wait and see to how his new bobblehead likeness turns out and exactly how the resin sculptures capture his trademark flowing locks.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at philip.potempa@nwi.com or (219) 852-4327.

 

 

 

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