Jeffrey Alan Samardzija (Serbian surname form: Самарџија, Samardžija; common pronunciation: "sah-MAHR-jee-yah") (born January 23, 1985, in Merrillville, Indiana) is an American baseball pitcher with the Chicago Cubs organization. He is a former football wide receiver at the University of Notre Dame.
Samardzija grew up in Valparaiso, Indiana, where he attended Valparaiso High School, and was a letterman in football, basketball, and baseball. In football, 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 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. Athletics were something of the norm early in his life. Father Sam Samardzija was a semi-pro hockey player, and older brother Sam Jr. was an All State football and baseball player at Indiana University who now works as a sports agent in Major League Baseball. When Samardzija was in high school his mother Debora Samardzija died of a fatal disease. She still serves as the main inspiration of her two sons today. Two years later in 2003, his father, Sam, remarried and he now has two half brothers, Jakub and Nick.
Samardzija 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 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.