Schiffner, a Cape League Fixture, Back in Playoffs Again
By Ashley Crosby, CCBL Intern
CHATHAM, Mass.—A head coach for the Chatham Anglers for the last 17 years and a fixture on the Cape since his playing days in Harwich in 1974, ‘75, and ‘76, John Schiffner knows the Cape League. His experience may be a part of the reason that Chatham, squeaking into a playoff spot this season, has consistently found itself in the chase for the Arnold Mycock trophy.
A “wash-ashore,” Schiffner has now lived on the Cape long enough to feel a part of the family, and he feels particularly tied to Chatham. “It’s a great town, the Chatham Athletic Association are great people, they just treat the kids so well, and I’ve been here so darn long, I’m sort of like family,” he said. “I absolutely love Chatham.”
This year’s Anglers team went 21-23 in their regular season, earning 42 points to find a place among the other five teams in this year’s playoff. From 1989 to 2001, Chatham only missed the playoffs twice, and since 2001, when they were the East Division Champions but lost to Wareham in the CCBL Championship, they have stayed contenders, despite failing to take home the trophy. But, said Schiffner, the goal in Chatham is player development, not trophy hunting.
“Our first goal, and it always has been and always will be, is to get these kids to be better players when they leave,” said Schiffner. “Then [we want] to make the playoffs. We’ve always said that from the beginning, and it goes hand in hand, if they get better we should make the playoffs. I think in most cases we’ve been very successful with that.”
Schiffner’s approach to coaching on the Cape is very player centric. “I didn’t bring these guys here to bunt constantly, and the people in the stands don’t come to watch me coach,” he said. “They come to watch these kids play, and I tell these kids, be prepared to play baseball the right way, don’t embarrass the game, and you’ll have a good summer.”
Commissioner Paul Galop, who worked with the Chatham Anglers for years and was a high school classmate of Schiffner’s, said, “He is definitely a player’s manager. He knows how to recruit, he knows which college coaches and scouts he can trust when they call him with a recommendation, he understands all of the idiosyncrasies in the league—whether it’s going to be foggy tonight or whether one kid can hit another kid better.”
Schiffner, who scouted for the Montreal Expos for six years, with the Cape as part of his territory, looks first for athletes and then decides where to play them in the field. “I go for the best athlete available,” he said. “I know some coaches will try to mold their team [a certain way]. I don’t do that. Just give me baseball players and we’ll play the game of baseball.”
“He does very thorough scouting,” said Galop about Schiffner’s preparedness on the field. “He keeps a notebook in the dugout—as most of the coaches do—with charts on every hitter. He has meetings at his house every night, his wife Martha cooks for the coaches and they sit around and talk about the game and the next game, so he’s very well prepared.”
His experience as a scout and his time spent as a coach on the Cape also earns him the respect of his players. He knows the game, he knows what scouts look for, and he works with the players to develop their skill sets. “I constantly tell the guys that you need to do this for the scouts, you need to showcase yourselves. The scouts are looking for certain things, keep a heads up on that and we go from there.”
Ashley Crosby can be reached at Crosby@capecodbaseball.org
John Garner, Jr.
Director of Public Relations & Broadcasting
Interns: Chris Blake, James Chandley, Ashley Crosby, Phil Garceau, Michael Campbell, Katy Ann Fitzpatrick