Frank Shofner: An Everyday Guy.

Frank Shofner Hit .241 for the '51 Buffs.

Every field of human endeavour has them. Most of us are them. We are the minions of the masses that make every clock of human effort tic. Without us, there would be no night sky in place for all the stars to shine. There would be no cars fixed by the side of the road when really important people are late for meetings in the halls of power. There would be no torch bearers streaming through the darkness when it was time to storm Dr. Frankenstein’s castle. There would be no  Rosencrantz or Guildenstern lending quiet body and soul to the telling of Hamlet.

Frank Shofner of the 1951 Houston Buffs was such a character in baseball. We may talk and write of Ruth and Aaron all we want, but we simply could not play the game without the multitudes of mediocre performances supplied much more frequently by ordinary guys like Frank Shofner of the minor leagues and Ray Oyler of the majors (See Ray’s stats for Detroit, 1968, or just check out his general career.)

Frank Shofner hit .241 with 6 homers as a back up to rising star Eddie Kazak as third baseman for the ’51 Houston Buffs, He delivered a few key pinch hits along the way and he battled every opportunity that came his way as though it were the chance of a lifetime. At 6’1″ and 185 pounds, Shofner had a stockier appearance and not much speed, but he had quick hands and a frog-and-the-June-bug relationship with balls dribbled or bunted down the third base line.

From the stands, you could often hear him barking support, laughing, kidding encouragement to his mates, doing whatever he could to help everybody keep their heads in the game. As a torch bearer, he lit his own and tried hard to ignite the lights of all the other Buffs. Put that personality and temperament into the same guy who batted .241 and you sure would prefer to have Frank Shofner on your bench than some guy who batted .300, but only cared in a dead pan way about his own stats and credit.

In his nine season career (1944-1952) as a minor leaguer, Frank Shofner batted .278 with 49 home runs. He was 2 for 13 (.154) with a single and a triple in his only major league action for the 1947 Boston Red Sox, but that’s OK. The rule of the minions still applies: Without the Frank Shofners of this world, there would be no stage for the Ted William’s and Stan Musials of the hardball game.

Shofner and Oyler shall live on through the ages as Rosencrantz and Guildenstern characters in Baseball’s Hamlet.

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