Mount Airy native David Sheaffer leaves today to compete in the International Baseball Goodwill Series along with 17 other recruits from the United States and Mexico to play with the International Houston Astros team in Australia.
Sheaffer recently signed a letter of intent to play baseball at Masters College in California next fall and received a full scholarship to play with the school. In the meantime, Sheaffer is scheduled to attend North Surry and play baseball under coach Travis Gammons this spring, he said. Sheaffer said that he is finishing up dual enrollment classes required to graduate after starting them at Surry Community College as a junior and since being homeschooled.
LeDonna Sheaffer, David Sheaffer’s mother, said it seems almost since David has been born that he has worn a baseball jersey or carried a ball in his hand.
David’s mom recalled a baseball moment early in her son’s life. She said when he was 3 years old, she asked her son the question. “Are you a catcher? The 3-year-old Sheaffer replied, ‘No, I am a hitt….ur,’” said Sheaffer’s mother.
David Sheaffer said he knew he was serious about the game of baseball and the drive to play ever since he can remember, “To be honest, since I was little I knew I was going to be good at it and as the teams that I played out confirmed this, I wanted to do more and more.”
Sheaffer said a pivotal moment came this summer after he received a call from John Hendricks who is an area scout with the East Coast Pro Showcase Series and former coach of the BlueJays, a team on which Sheaffer also played. Shaeffer said when he began to play with other players at that level in his age group, he knew he had to work harder and he did.
He practiced at home in the batting cage along with father, Danny Sheaffer and pushed himself harder.
“I really realized that I needed to work a lot harder after the summer showcase that was held in Syracuse, N.Y., in particular. They were bigger and stronger than me and I knew I had to start working out,” Sheaffer said. He said he has gotten stronger, hits harder, and his plate approach has gotten better ever since he incorporated a weight program into his practice.
Not long after that showcase, Sheaffer received the scholarship at Masters College where his brother Daniel is a pitcher and a senior. Sheaffer said he and his brother, Daniel, push one another to excel, but “Daniel, can be one of my toughest critics,” he said.
Sheaffer’s young sister, LoriAnna Sheaffer, said she doesn’t love baseball, but remembers going to her brother’s games since 5 years old. “I love to watch him play, and especially when he hit a home run,” she said.
Sheaffer said Hendricks gave him a tryout for the Carolina Cubs, a team out of Greenville, and he made the team. Sheaffer also was asked to played in the Pro Showcase Series tournaments that were held at places including: North Carolina State University, Eastern Carolina University or in Atlanta, Ga.
According to the East Coast Pro Showcase website, the goal of the showcase is to provide a venue for the youth’s top players across the Eastern United States to compete in professional environments and give scouts an opportunity to view their level of play.
As it turns out, Sheaffer is a catcher, hitter and could play either catcher, outfield or third-base in the Australian Goodwill games, said scout and coach, Charles Aliano.
The young catcher credited his father as the baseball player and person who has been most influential in his young career and success. The father and son team practice baseball together and also travel together to do mission work and baseball clinics with Score International.
They have been on several trips together to the Dominican Republic. Each spoke about their interest and passion in baseball but also their love of the Lord.
“It’s really special to go every year to teach baseball, minister and share Jesus,” said the young Shaeffer. Danny Sheaffer said without giving back to encourage others, money or success becomes meaningless.
Danny Sheaffer said from a professional standpoint his son has some of the fastest handtime coordination that he has seen and is confident that in time more of the professional attributes will develop.
“I am most proud of my kids following the example of Christ, giving back and telling others about Christ,” he said.
The Sheaffers support Taniera Silvestre, who is a young woman who wants to play softball who lives in an orphanage in the Dominican Republic.
Danny Sheaffer, who played professional major league baseball with both the Boston Red Sox and the Saint Louis Cardinals, said both his sons have been around baseball all their lives and spent time in the dugout at Busch Stadium in Saint Louis after he later went on in baseball management of teams such as the St. Louis Cardinals and the Memphis Red Birds.
Sheaffer said, “He (David) along with my other son watched baseball played how it was suppose to be played.” The father also said, David nor Daniel felt intimidated by professional players over the years but instead spent time in the clubhouse watching and became used to the atmosphere.
Area scout Charlie Aliano is the pro scout for the International team for the East Coast region and said he saw something “unique” in David Sheaffer and others whom he recruited for the elite team, he said.
“When I recruit the players, I do it is because I know they will play for me,” Aliano said. Most recruits are division 1 in high school or division 2 in college, he said.
Aliano said the Houston Astros International team was formed in 2012 and is sponsored by SSK company and the Houston Astros Major League team.