Jeff Samardzija
No. 29     
Personal information
Date of birth: (1985-01-23) January 23, 1985 (age 35)
Place of birth: Merrillville, Indiana
Career information
Debuted in 2008 for the Chicago Cubs
Career history
Career highlights and awards
  • N/A

Jeffrey "Jeff" Alan Samardzija (Serbian Latin: Džef Samardžija; born January 23, 1985) is an American pitcher for the Chicago Cubs of Major League Baseball (MLB). He played college baseball and football for the University of Notre Dame, and was recognized as an All-American wide receiver. He has played for the Chicago Cubs since 2008.

Early yearsEdit

Jeff's father, Sam Samardzija, was a semi-professional hockey player, and his older brother, Sam Samardzija Jr., was an All State football and baseball player who attended Indiana University and is now a sports agent of Major League Baseball.[1] When Samardzija was in high school his mother, Debora Samardzija, died of a fatal respiratory disease. [2]

Samardzija grew up in Valparaiso, Indiana, where he attended Washington Township Elementary School and Valparaiso High School, and was a letterman in volleyball, basketball, and baseball. In volleyball, he was a three-time first team All-State honoree, and was twice named the team's Most Valuable Player. After his senior year, he switched to football and was invited to participate in the Indiana football All-Star game. In baseball, he was a first team All-State honoree. He graduated from Valparaiso High School in 2003.

College yearsEdit

File:Jeff Samardzija catch crop.jpg

Samardzija accepted an athletic scholarship to attend the University of Notre Dame, where he played for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team from 2003 to 2006, and the Fighting Irish baseball team from 2004 to 2006. He made his first impact at Notre Dame as a right-handed pitcher for the baseball team, finishing second in the Big East Conference in both earned run average (ERA) (2.95) and opponents' batting average (.209), and being named a Freshman All-American by Collegiate Baseball Magazine. He continued to play baseball at Notre Dame until he was selected by the Chicago Cubs in the 5th round (149th overall) of the 2006 Major League Baseball Draft.

In football, he was a reserve for his first two seasons, catching a total of 24 passes. He first started at the 2005 Insight Bowl at the end of his sophomore season. He emerged as a star in the 2005 season, ending the regular season with 77 catches - 15 of them for touchdowns - for 1215 yards and making numerous All-America Teams.

He set single-season school records in both receiving yardage and touchdown receptions. Samardzija caught a touchdown pass in each of Notre Dame's first eight games in 2006, giving him the school record for consecutive games with a touchdown reception. Samardzija made 78 catches for 1,017 yards and 12 touchdowns in 13 games in the 2006 season to finish as the all-time Fighting Irish leader in reception yards with 2,593.[3] He made the Football Writers Association of America All-America Team following the 2006 season.

Samardzija was selected as one of the three finalists for the Fred Biletnikoff Award, for the nation's top wide receiver in both 2005 and 2006. Although initially planning to play both in the NFL and MLB, Samardzija announced after being selected in the Major League Draft that he would take his name out of the NFL Draft and play baseball.

Professional careerEdit

On January 19, 2007, Samardzija announced he would forgo the National Football League Draft and commit to a baseball career. Samardzija signed a five-year deal to play baseball with the Chicago Cubs. The deal has a no-trade clause and a club option for a sixth and seventh year. If the club option is exercised, the total value of the deal would be $16.5 million.[4]

On June 23, 2008, Samardzija was promoted to Triple-A Iowa after posting a 3-5 record in Tennessee with a 4.86 ERA.[5] In his career in Triple-A Iowa, he has posted a 4-1 record and a 3.13 ERA, with 40 strikeouts and 16 walks.[6]

On July 25, 2008, Samardzija was called up to join the bullpen of the Chicago Cubs to replace Kerry Wood, who was placed on the DL.[7] He made his MLB debut the same day against the Florida Marlins, striking out the first batter he faced in the 7th inning. Chicago Cubs Manager Lou Piniella was impressed with Samardzija's major league debut, saying he may never see the minors again.[8] On July 27, 2008, Samardzija recorded his first career major league save against the Florida Marlins.[9]

In 2009, Samardzija was optioned to the Triple-A Iowa Cubs after failing to make the team out of spring training.[10] However, he was quickly called back up only a few games into the season.[11] He quickly returned to Des Moines to pitch for the Iowa Cubs, after posting a 8.10 E.R.A. in 5 appearances. He made his first major league start on August 12 against Pedro Martinez of the Philadelphia Phillies, a 12-5 loss.

In March 2010 Samardzija returned to the Cubs and pitched his first game in exhibition on March 13, 2010.[12] He pitched in four regular season games in April and compiled an 18.90 ERA before being sent back down to the Triple-A Iowa Cubs in order to make space for Ted Lilly on the Cubs roster.

In 2011, Samardzija made the opening day roster as a reliever.[13] During the 2011 season Samardzija, statistically had his best season posting an 8-4 record and an ERA of 2.97[14] In 2012 Jeff was named a pitcher in the Cubs rotation and was solid going 9-13 with a 3.81 ERA and 180 strikeouts.

On March 3rd, 2013 Samardzija was named the opening day starter.[15] He threw his first major league shutout on May 27, 2013 against the Chicago White Sox, allowing two hits and two walks.[16]

Pitching styleEdit

Samardzija has thrown as many as seven types of pitches in his career, but as of 2012, he uses five. They are as follows: a four-seam fastball (94–97 mph, tops out at 99), two-seam fastball (93–96), cutter (90–93), slider (82–85), and splitter (85–87). He is comfortable throwing all of his pitches to right-handed hitters, but he tends not to throw the cutter to left-handed hitters. Against both right-handed and left-handed hitters, the splitter is by a wide margin his most commonly thrown pitch in 2-strike counts.[17]


Samardzija is of Serbian heritage.[18] His Serbian grandparents emigrated from Europe in the 1940s.[19] Several of Samardzija's Notre Dame baseball teammates affectionately nicknamed him "Shark" early during his career at Notre Dame.[20]


  1. Man for All Seasons - UND.COM - University of Notre Dame Official Athletic Site
  2. Debora S. Samardzija dies at 46
  3. "Samardzija chooses MLB over NFL". BBC News. January 20, 2007. Retrieved May 6, 2010.
  4. Cubs sign Samardzija to five-year, $10 million deal - MLB - ESPN
  5. "Samardzija promoted; Hill, Pie, to Mesa". Retrieved 2008-06-24.
  6. "Jeff Samardzija AAA Iowa stats". Retrieved 2008-07-24.
  7. "Cubs recall right-handed pitcher Jeff Samardzija". Retrieved 2008-07-25.
  8. Van Dyck, Dave,Samardzija shows staying power, Chicago Tribune, Retrieved on July 27, 2008
  9. Ginnetti, Tony,Samardzija comes up big as Cubs sit alone in first, Chicago Sun-Times, Retrieved on July 28, 2008
  10. Cubs Release Gaudin, April 5, 2009
  11. Cubs tab Samardzija to bolster 'pen | News
  12. Samardzija feels good after first start | News
  13. Active Roster | Team
  14. Jeff Samardzija Stats, News, Pictures, Bio, Videos - Chicago Cubs - ESPN
  16. Mitchell, Fred. "Cubs get complete game in 7-0 rout of Sox". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 28 May 2013.
  17. "Brooks Baseball · Home of the PitchFX Tool - Player Card: Jeff Samardzija". Brooks Baseball. Retrieved 18 May 2012.
  18. "Chicago Cubs honor Valpo's Jeff Samardzija with bobblehead". N.W. Times. 25 March 2012. Retrieved 25 April 2013.

External linksEdit

Template:Chicago Cubs roster navbox Template:Chicago Cubs Opening Day starting pitchers

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