Danny Sheaffer’s baseball career began with great promise. The right-handed hitting Clemson University catcher was taken with the 20th overall selection in the first round of the 1981 MLB Draft by the Boston Red Sox. Despite his status as a top prospect, his journey to the major leagues proved to be a long one, but he never gave up and played in the big leagues in 7 of his 18 professional seasons, a testament to his hard work and determination.
After joining the Red Sox organization Sheaffer played well in the minors, but was blocked in Boston by the presence of Rich Gedman, one of the best hitting catchers in the game at the time. Finally in 1987, after Gedman suffered an injury, Sheaffer was summoned to the majors and appeared in 25 games, but struggled, collecting only 8 hits in 66 at bats.
Sheaffer was granted free agency following the 1988 season, and over the next few year bounced around with several organizations, including the Cleveland Indians, Pittsburgh Pirates, and Minnesota Twins. He only appeared in 7 major league games during that time and was never given an opportunity to stick on a big league roster.
Expansion proved to be Sheaffer’s big chance, as he signed with the fledgling Colorado Rockies prior to the 1993 season and emerged as half of their catching platoon that year with Joe Girardi. Sheaffer had a career year, appearing in 82 games, and hit .278 with 4 home runs and 32 RBI. He also improved his flexibility by playing occasionally in the outfield and corner infield spots- making him a valuable commodity off the bench.
Sheaffer went on to play two more seasons with the Rockies and three with the St. Louis Cardinals before finally retiring after 25 minor league games in 1998. His perseverance and adaptability became the key to his success and should serve as an example for any player trying to play their way to the majors. During his major league career Scheaffer hit .232 in 389 games, with 13 home runs and 110 RBI. More information about his career statistics is available here.
Since turning in his bat and glove Sheaffer has coached and managed in the minors, and currently serves as a roving instructor in the Houston Astros system. Despite what is surely a hectic travel and work schedule, Sheaffer graciously took the time to answer some questions earlier this season about his experiences in baseball.
Danny Sheaffer Interview:
Who were your favorite team and player when you were growing up, and why?: Growing up in central Pennsylvania, we only had TV access to two teams on a regular basis, the Phillies and Orioles. Philadelphia was the hands down winner in that one.
What was your draft experience like with the Red Sox?: I was called by a high school coach that I had in the past and he told me that I was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the first round. I quickly found out by a phone call from a scout that the “B” was correct, but it was Boston and not Baltimore. It was confirmed the next day by a Western Union letter (How times have changed).
Which was your favorite MLB season and why?: I would have to say it was a toss-up between the 1993 season with the Colorado Rockies (inaugural season ) and the 1996 St. Louis Cardinals season, the year we played in the NLCS against Atlanta.
Which pitcher you caught had the best stuff?: Roger Clemens, hands down had the best stuff.
What was your favorite moment from your playing career?: Hitting a game tying home run in my first major league game was a top moment.
If you could do anything differently about your playing career, what would that be?: I probably would have tried to get to the National League quicker than I did. There was way more opportunity for someone that plays multiple positions to stay in the big leagues.
Who was your favorite coach or manager?: My favorite manager was Tony LaRussa and favorite coach was George Hendrick.
Have you noticed any major differences between the players of your generation and those of today?: Way too many to write here, but one main difference is a sense of entitlement that many players seem to have, when what they have accomplished in the past really does not warrant that at that time.
Filed under: Digging Deep - Analysis Tagged: | Boston Red Sox, Clemson, Cleveland Indians, Colorado Rockies, Danny Sheaffer, Houston Astros, Interview, Joe Girardi, Minnesota Twins, Pittsburgh Pirates, Rich Gedman, St. Louis Cardinals