By Gary Fauber
Assistant Sports Editor
Danny Sheaffer doesn’t have a specific message to convey when he speaks at this weekend’s coaches symposium at Upper Deck Training Center.
“I mainly want to be a resource for questions and answers in all aspects of the game, whether it’s offense or defense,” the Princeton Rays manager said Tuesday. “I want to share the experiences I had from over 30 years of professional basebal and try to aid amateur coaches from the state of West Virginia who might be there.”
Sheaffer will be one of several coaches and former players on hand at the four-day event that begins Friday.
Other speakers include Houston Astros pitching coach Brent Strom; Josh Newman, a former All-Big Ten pitcher at Ohio State and former Colorado Rockies hurler who was recently hired as pitching coach at Marshall; Jeremy Cummings, a Charleston native who pitched for Team USA’s bronze-medal winning team in 2008 and is currently in the Tampa Bay Rays organization; Blake Herring, pitching coach/recruiting coordinator at Carson-Newman; Steve Crosier, former batting coach for the West Virginia Miners who is now the strength and conditioning coach for the Princeton Rays; Miners assistant coach and former longtime Independence head coach Joe Goddard, who played for the Padres in the early 1970s; Danny Flores, head instructor at Upper Deck and Miners first base coach; and Miners manager Tim Epling, who worked as a minor league umpire for six years.
Sheaffer was a first-round draft pick of the Boston Red Sox out of Clemson in 1981. He played in the Major Leagues for parts of seven seasons with Boston, Cleveland, Colorado and St. Louis before retiring in 1997. The catcher was a .232 lifetime hitter and drove in 110 runs.
He eventually spent five seasons as manager of the Memphis Redbirds (St. Louis’ triple-A affiliate) and one as manager of the triple-A Round Rock Express (Texas).
Sheaffer was the minor league roving catching instructor for the Houston organization for six seasons before going to Princeton last summer.
“I was much more prepared for that level of baseball than I was when I stepped off the playing field at 38,” Sheaffer said of last season’s experience. “Baseball is important, but there are so many other things that go into rookie ball. Eventually you hope they become better citizens and not just better baseball players.”
Sheaffer, who lives in Mount Airy, N.C., in the offseason, was in Mercer County on Tuesday, helping with the baseball team at Concord. He’ll get another chance this weekend to run into acquaintances from 2013.
“To people who have not been there, it may not seem like the best place in the world, but I actually loved it,” Sheaffer said. “It’s close to my home. It will be fun to see people I am familiar with.”
The four days will be divided into two for players and parents and two for coaches.
Player and parent passes will be available for Friday and Monday for $25.
Saturday and Sunday are reserved for coaching clinics. Each day will end with a question-and-answer session. Fee for these days is $50 per coach.
Today is the last day to preregister at the discounted rate for the symposium. After today, the fee is $75.
“This clinic will be great for the high school player to be a part of,” Epling said. “It will give them a chance to get an idea of what to do to be better prepared for college, and they can have information for themselves. Plus, they will be able to meet college coaches across the state.”
For more information, call Epling at 304-673-2519. Information is also posted on the Upper Deck website, www.upperdeckwv.com.
— E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org and follow on Twitter @GaryFauber.