Frank Shaffer

From BR Bullpen

Francis X. Shaffer
Francis X. Schiffhauer

  • Height 5' 11", Weight 160 lb.

Biographical Information[edit]

Frank Shaffer was a long-lost ballplayer.

An outfielder, he played briefly for the Altoona Mountain City team of the fledgling Union Association at the start of its only season, in 1884. That team underwent of a lot of personnel changes and in early May, after an awful start by the team, Shaffer and four other players were released. Frank was never to play again, while among the players brought in to replace them was another outfielder named Taylor Shafer, who was mainly known for being the brother of the much more famous Orator Shaffer. Unfortunately for Frank, the two players got mixed up at some point and the playing record for both was assigned to Taylor, who had a convoluted year himself, also appearing for two other teams in the Union Association before the season was out.

However, the evidence that these are two discrete ballplayers is very clear. Preseason reports on the Altoona team describe Frank as coming from Detroit, and had previously played for Pittsburgh. His named is spelled at various points as Shafer, Shaffer and Schaffer, and his release was reported in early May, shortly before the arrival of his near namesake.

SABR researchers then managed to trace Frank Shaffer thanks to the clue reported in one story that he was a "diamond setter by trade". There was in fact a Frank Schafer, jeweler, listed in the 1883 Detroit city directory, and earlier entries for a family with the same name in Pittsburgh in previous years, also listed as a jeweler, although the spelling of his last name varied. Census records were found that confirmed the presence of the family in Pittsburgh in 1870 and 1880, but the family then seemed to disappear. The reason was that "Shaffer" and its variants were in fact a simplification of the family's real name, "Schiffhauer". Under that name, Frank and his siblings can be traced for the remainder of their lives. The ballplayer married Michigan native Louise Trinkaus in Essex, ON in 1887, had four children then divorced and died near Detroit in 1939.

Further Reading[edit]

  • "Frank Shaffer/Schiffhauer", in Bill Carle, ed.: Biographical Research Committee Report, SABR, May/June 2017, pp. 2-3.

Related Sites[edit]