Posted by Mike Lynch on December 12, 2017
Thanks to the tireless efforts of SABR, we have recently added a new Major League baseball player to our database. However, you won't find this player on our list of recent debuts. That's because this "new" player was actually a player in the 1884 Union Association.
Over the summer, Peter Morris from SABR's Bio Committee (and 1991 World Scrabble Champ!) discovered that of the 19 games attributed to Taylor Shafer for the 1884 Altoona Mountain City, 6 of them actually belonged to a previously unknown player who went by Frank Shaffer (but whose actual name was apparently Frank Schiffhauer). Shaffer had three hits (all singles) in 19 career AB, scoring one run. He played centerfield, third base and catcher in the field.
In retrospect, it's easy to see how his career was overlooked for so long. Frank Shaffer debuted on April 24, 1884 and played his final game on May 3, 1884. Altoona then released Shaffer and signed similarly named Taylor Shafer the following day. Surely, whoever was entering transactions into computers at the time made a typo and the two players ended up having their stats combined for the subsequent 133 years (kidding).
Thank you to the SABR Bio Committee for their efforts in revealing the newest addition to our player database.