Cubs shortstop meets local fans, autograph seekers

Published 12:10 am Monday, January 12, 2009

NATCHEZ — Samantha Forman always wanted to meet someone famous, and on Sunday afternoon she, along with hundreds of others in Natchez, got her wish.

Former LSU and current Chicago Cubs shortstop Ryan Theriot spent a few hours at SportsCenter in Natchez signing autographs and taking pictures with awed fans and sometimes shy kids and adults.

Samantha’s mother Missy Forman said meeting Theroit was fun for both of her kids, Samantha, 11, and Valerie, 13.

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“Samantha has been waiting to meet someone famous for awhile, and now she can say she has,” Missy Forman said.

Valerie was excited to meet Theriot because of his success at LSU, where he was the shortstop for the team that won the 2000 College World Series championship.

“He won at LSU at one point, and I love LSU,” she said. “It’s really exciting to meet him.”

In fact, many of the people who came to the signing did so dressed in LSU gear, remembering Theriot more for his play in purple and gold than his Major League success with the Cubs.

Theriot, who still lives in the Baton Rouge area in the offseason, said it is a tribute to the LSU baseball program that so many fans give their support.

“The program at LSU creates that kind of fan following,” Theriot said. “(Former coach) Skip (Bertman) created a great program and made it exciting for the fans. There are a lot of great people that came out of the LSU program, not just great players.”

Theriot is going into his fourth year with the Cubs after being drafted in the third round in 2001.

Theriot enjoyed a career season in 2008, playing the entire season at shortstop after playing several different positions his first two years in the big leagues.

He hit .307 and drove in 38 runs for the National League Central winning Cubs.

“It’s a dream come true,” Theriot said of his play with the Cubs. “I’ve watched the Cubs my whole life. They had legends like Ryne Sandberg and Ernie Banks and to be able to play on the same field they did is definitely an honor.”

But even with all of his success, Theriot said he still enjoys sitting down and making a child’s day by signing his name on a card or baseball.

“I really enjoy it,” Theriot said. “To see a smile on a kids’ face and to see them get excited and happy is great. I feel like it’s an honor to be able to get to do it. It’s pretty cool.”