Shaffer says he will never forget his Clemson experience
By Will Vandervort
CLEMSON — Last Monday night was a special night for Clemson third baseman Richie Shaffer. With his family and friends surrounding him at his Charlotte home, he watched as Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig called out his name in the 2012 MLB First-Year Player Draft.
Shaffer was selected No. 25 overall by the Tampa Bay Rays, the first Tiger ever selected by the Tampa organization, and was one of seven Clemson players overall taken in the 2012 Draft.
“I don’t think it will really hit me until I’m on a plane somewhere or in a different locker room for the first time, but it is starting to hit me that my teammates and I are all starting to go different directions,” Shaffer said late last week. “But moving a step closer to playing in the Major Leagues, I don’t know if that has quite hit me yet.”
After his selection, Shaffer did not waste too much time in Charlotte. Instead, he went back to Clemson to watch the rest of the draft — a three-day event — with the rest of his Clemson teammates.
“The first day of the draft, I know they all went (to a restaurant in Clemson) and sat there for over three and half hours watching the draft and waiting for me to get called in the first round,” he said. “That meant a lot to me. It was important for me to support them, just like they were supporting me.
“I wanted to be there to celebrate with them and congratulate them so we can all celebrate together when the draft was completely over. I care about these guys. They are like my brothers. I would not have missed that for anything.”
Shaffer did not have to wait too long on Tuesday to celebrate as junior catcher Spencer Kieboom was drafted in the fifth round (No. 174 overall) by the Washington Nationals, and pitcher Kevin Brady, also a junior, was a 10th-round selection (No. 338 overall) of the Philadelphia Phillies.
On Wednesday, the final day of the draft, four other Tigers were selected, including pitcher Dominic Leone, a junior, in the 16th round (No. 491 overall) by the Seattle Mariners. Senior shortstop Jason Stolz was a 17th-round draft pick (No. 528 overall) of the Colorado Rockies, while utility player Phil Pohl, also a senior, was chosen in the 28th round (No. 859 overall) by the Oakland Athletics.
Pitcher Scott Firth, a junior, was the last Clemson player picked as he went in the 32nd round (No. 998 overall) to the Philadelphia Phillies.
“You create such a close bond with these guys because we spend so much time together. I mean, we did everything together the past three or four years. They become your best friends,” Shaffer said. “It is hard to know if it will ever really be like that ever again, so it is tough to say goodbye and see everybody go their own ways, but at the same time, it’s exciting because everyone feels the same way and is excited to start the next chapter.
“We are all ready to see each other the next time, maybe during football season or something around here. It’s kind of sad, but at the same time we are all equally happy for each other.”
And though he is starting a new chapter in his life, Shaffer says he will always hold a special place in his heart for Clemson. He says the Clemson experience is what makes leaving Tigertown so hard.
“Being at Clemson was so much fun, and I had such a great experience,” he said. “There were so many awesome memories I made and friends that I will have forever. I just think about how blessed I am and how lucky I was to experience this opportunity. There are so many people out in the world that do not get to experience something like Clemson.
“I did not grow up a Tiger. I was not one of the guys from around here that knew about Clemson and that kind of stuff, but I definitely will be a Clemson Tiger for life. My kids will be Clemson Tigers and my grandkids will be Tigers and so on. I will bleed orange forever. I can’t say enough positive things about this university and what it has meant to my life and how blessed I have been to have been a part of it. I plan for Clemson to be a big part of my life forever.”