Princeton Times

Sports

February 21, 2013

P-Rays welcome new manager

PRINCETON — A new face will be leading the Princeton Rays in 2013.

Princeton Rays General Manager Jim Holland confirmed Tuesday that Danny Sheaffer, 51, of Mount Airy, N.C., will be the team’s manager during the 2013 season. Tuesday, the P-Rays held a luncheon for local media members to meet Sheaffer.

Sheaffer said that he had learned something about Princeton already. He looked over his shoulder at the Mercer Cup Trophy that the P-Rays and Bluefield Jays battle for every summer.

“I know one thing,” Sheaffer said. “This needs to stay right here.”

Sheaffer added that he is glad to be managing close to his home in Mount Airy, N.C. and to be working the Rays organization. He explained that he was from Pennsylvania and had attended Clemson University in South Carolina. He met his wife, a student at North Carolina State University, while in college and moved to her hometown of Mount Airy. He added that he knew it was tough to get a job in the Rays organization because they take care of their employees.

Sheaffer added that he is looking forward to the challenge of managing the rookie league team. He said that he has been told that the two toughest levels to manage at are AAA and rookie league.

AAA is tough because some of the players are bitter about not making the major leagues. Rookie ball is tough because it’s the first level that players begin to realize that baseball careers aren’t in the cards.

“You don’t manage at the minor league level to get accolades,” Sheaffer said. “You do it because of the kids. Sometimes, one will come up to you five or six years later and hug and thank you. That’s all the reward I need.”

Prior to the Princeton Rays managing job, Sheaffer served as a roving catching instructor in the Houston Astros organization in addition to AAA managing jobs with the Memphis Redbirds, an affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals, and the Round Rock Express, an Astros affiliate.

Sheaffer was a first-round draft pick of the Boston Red Sox in the 1981 Amateur Draft. He debuted for the Red Sox on April 9, 1987. He also made stops in the majors as a catcher/infielder for the Cleveland Indians, Colorado Rockies, and St. Louis Cardinals.

While with the Red Sox, Sheaffer once spent a game behind the plate as the other half of a battery with Roger Clemons.

“We were in Texas,” Sheaffer said. “Roger was trying out a new pitch, the forkball.”

Sheaffer held his middle and index fingers in the air and bent them at the first knuckle from the hand. Without a baseball, the former catcher’s hand resembled a peace sign, only the two fingers that made the “V” were at a 90-degree angle to the rest of his hand.

“He beat me up that day,” Sheaffer said. “He didn’t bring a lot of heat that day, but I looked like a Dalmatian at the end of the game.”

Sheaffer said that Clemons didn’t yet have full control of the pitch, and the ball moved quite a bit. This made it difficult on the hitter. However, it added a degree of difficulty because Sheaffer would have to block errant pitches with his body.

“Roger, he was pretty good,” Sheaffer said.

Sheaffer added that two other guys he felt lucky to play with were Kirby Puckett and Wade Boggs, who ironically later played for the Tampa Bay Rays organization.

— Contact Matt Christian at mchristian@ptonline.net.

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