|First baseman /Manager|
September 30, 1910|
La Crosse, Wisconsin
|Died: April 12, 1988
|Batted: Right||Threw: Right|
|September 11, 1935 for the Brooklyn Dodgers|
|Last MLB appearance|
|October 3, 1943 for the Philadelphia Athletics|
|Runs batted in||11|
Francis Michael Skaff (September 30, 1910 – April 12, 1988) was an infielder, coach, manager and scout in American Major League Baseball. Skaff's half-season as acting manager of the 1966 Detroit Tigers is one of the most unusual, and tragic, happenstances in baseball annals.
Skaff began 1966 as a Detroit coach. After 26 games, skipper Chuck Dressen suffered his second heart attack in two seasons. As in 1965, third base coach Bob Swift took over the Tigers on an interim basis May 16 as Dressen recovered. But Swift was not a well man, either. After 57 games, he was hospitalized for what appeared to be a stomach ailment; however, his malady proved to be lung cancer and he was forced to give up the reins.
Skaff, who had begun the season as Detroit's bench coach, then moved to third base under Swift, became the team's second acting manager of the season on July 14 and finished the campaign. Unfortunately, both of Skaff's predecessors died later in the year. Dressen appeared to be making a recovery in early August when he was stricken by a kidney infection; he died August 10. Swift succumbed to cancer on October 17, 1966.
In October, Mayo Smith was named manager for 1967, and Skaff moved into a scouting role. He never managed again in the majors (his 40-39 career record produced a winning percentage of .506), but he returned to Detroit as a coach under Billy Martin in 1971.
A native of La Crosse, Wisconsin, who batted and threw right-handed, Skaff was a 1935 graduate of Villanova University, where he received a degree in economics. He spent the most productive years of his playing career with the International League Baltimore Orioles during World War II. He appeared in six games for the 1935 Brooklyn Dodgers and in 32 contests for the 1943 Philadelphia Athletics, hitting .320 in 75 at bats. He managed in the A's farm system and was a coach for the 1954 Orioles during their first AL season as the reborn St. Louis Browns, before joining the Tiger organization as a minor league skipper.
He died in Towson, Maryland in 1988 at the age of 77 while on a scouting trip for the Tigers. (His date of birth is disputed. Baseball Reference lists his birth as occurring in 1910, while MacMillan's Baseball Encyclopedia, the Baseball Register and Baseball Library list his birth year as 1913.)
- Spink, J.G. Taylor, ed., The Baseball Register. St. Louis: The Sporting News, 1954.
- Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference, or Baseball-Reference (Minors)
- managerial record