The Obit For Rudie Schaffer

Former White Sox executive Rudie Schaffer passes away; Long-time business associate of Bill Veeck's handled variety of roles 11/28/2007 4:18 PM ET

CHICAGO -- Rudie Schaffer, long-time business associate of Bill Veeck in a variety of sports endeavors, passed away Tuesday in Menlo Park, Calif. at the age of 96.

Schaffer, who held positions ranging from assistant to the president to general manager to business manager, joined Veeck in baseball five different times, including two stints with the White Sox (1959-69 and 1976-81).

In addition to the White Sox, Schaffer and Veeck teamed together with the Minor League Milwaukee Brewers, the Cleveland Indians (1946-50) and the St. Louis Browns/Baltimore Orioles (1951-54). Schaffer also spent time with the Toronto Maple Leafs Minor-League baseball team in the mid 1950s, at Boston's Suffolk Downs Race Track, in professional basketball with the Baltimore Bullets and running the Cincinnati Stringers of the World Hockey Association. Schaffer last worked for ARA, a national food service, after leaving the White Sox in 1981.

"No matter who you talk to, Rudie Schaffer always is described the same way," said Jerry Reinsdorf, White Sox chairman. "You hear the same words again and again: fans, fun, energy and ideas."

"He really was Bill's alter ego," said Mary Frances Veeck. "They enjoyed a great relationship. They were the 'Triumvirate,' Bill, Rudie and Roland Hemond. The three ran the Sox."

Described variously as Veeck's "idea man," "colleague" and "pal," among the ideas credited to Schaffer were: inventing Bat Day, creating the Picnic Area at old Comiskey Park and introducing the very first exploding scoreboard in 1961. In 1977, he had all Sox fans throw out the ceremonial first pitch with whiffle balls on Opening Day.

"What I really am is kind of a catch-all for Bill Veeck," Schaffer said in the 1960s. "We exchanged ideas and stimulated each other. I guess we were a pretty good team."

A native of Waukesha, Wis., Schaffer was hired by the Milwaukee Brewers in 1935 after working with the club as an outside CPA. He is survived by: daughter Su; son David and David's wife, Kathleen; and daughter Mary Frances. David, who has worked for the White Sox for over three decades, is the club's senior director of park operations. Rudie Schaffer was married to his wife, Elizabeth, for 65 years.

Schaffer was with Cleveland in 1948 when the Indians captured a World Series title, and he was involved with seven different pennant winners over his career in baseball. His signature is on the Indians' contract with Larry Doby when the first baseman broke the American League's color barrier in 1947. That contract resides in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Schaffer also was part of a famous three-person photo taken in 1976 that re-enacted a famous Revolutionary War painting. Bill Veeck dressed in the Spirit of '76 as a fife player, Paul Richards as a flag bearer and Schaffer as the drummer.

Services will be private. The family has requested that in lieu of flowers, donations be made in Schaffer's name to any worthy charity.