VIGNETTE > Marin’s Greatest Athlete


Bill Chapman

Sam Chapman
, Tam High class of 1934, a letter winner in football, soccer, baseball, basketball and track.  His young son once asked how he had time to letter in five sports in high school. Sam said that he tried to stay in school as long as possible so that he wouldn’t have to work at the family’s general merchandise store on Main Street in Tiburon. Sam went to UC-Berkeley, class of 1938, lettering in both football and baseball. The “Tiburon Terror” All-American halfback, led Cal’s “Thunder Team” to the Bears’ last Rose Bowl win. He was also an All-American baseball player at Cal.  In 1938, Sam was faced with a dilemma — professional football or baseball. He was drafted by the Washington Redskins, but because baseball season arrived earlier, he opted for a contract with the Philadelphia Athletics, then owned by the legendary Connie Mack. He played centerfield from 1938 to 1951 with timeout for Navy service as a pilot and flight instructor. 1941 was his best season: 25 home runs, 106 RBI’s, 322 batting average. In May 1951 he was traded to the Cleveland Indians. After 11 major league seasons, he played three more for the Oakland Oaks. He is on five Sports Halls of Fame. After retirement he and his family lived in Marin. He died in 2006 at age 90.