'I need to be on my own': Noah Sheffield seeks to carve his own path in game

2024 Draft prospect, son of nine-time All-Star Gary, puts skill set on display during Draft Combine

June 19th, 2024

PHOENIX -- Noah Sheffield never wanted any handouts simply because his last name carries weight in the baseball spectrum. After training with his dad, nine-time All-Star Gary Sheffield, for the first 14 years of his life, a tough, yet important, discussion was had between the two.

“I told him, ‘Leave me alone,’” Noah said. “I said, 'Do not call anybody for me. I need to be on my own. I need other people to tell me what to do. I don't want to go in there relying that you taught me everything that I know.’ I took into account where I wanted to be and that I had to work for what I wanted and not have somebody there kind of weaving my way in because of their career.”

It wasn’t a shock for Gary to hear this; it fit the mold of the mentality he asserted into Noah’s mindset his entire life, on and off the field. He was more than happy to embrace taking a backseat, simply watching his son play.

“When I hand my son over to you to coach, I want you to coach him the way you would coach him,” Gary said. “Not with my influence. Anybody who knows me knows I will sit as far away as possible. The only way my son knows I'm at the game is when he smells my cigars.”

It all worked out. In his senior season at Jesuit HS (Tampa, Fla.), Noah compiled a slash line of .411/.505/.622 with 15 stolen bases and 28 RBIs and led the Tigers to a 5A State Title. He is committed to playing for the Florida State Seminoles this upcoming year. At the 2024 Draft Combine, he showcased his skills both on defense and at the dish as he hit a pair of home runs into the left-field bleachers during his batting practice session at Chase Field.

Noah possesses the same unique batting stance his dad made famous, but he has a more relaxed, happy demeanor than the aggressive style of play Gary was associated with.

“He processes a lot of information real fast,” Gary said. “By him keeping calm, I know his demeanor and I know his body language, and it tells me everything. I can tell when he's ready, overly excited to hit. I can tell when he's not ready to hit. And so when he can calmly process that, then that's when he's electric.”

The 18-year-old has heard countless tales of his father’s upbringing in the Belmont Heights neighborhood in Tampa and the journey of “making it out the mud” into the Majors.

There were no handouts for Gary, everything was earned. Noah had the name, resources and tools that many aspiring young athletes would dream about having. The work ethic his dad used to persevere through baseball and life has inspired Noah to take a traditional approach to his career.

“I don't want to be that person that somebody goes up to and be like, ‘You're only here because of [your dad],” Noah said. “I want to be there because I know I'm there. I deserve to be there. And that's how you play different when you know you deserve to be somewhere.”

Whether Sheffield will suit up in Tallahassee or seek an opportunity in the pros will be decided after the MLB Draft next month, but the heralded shortstop already has a plan set on what he wants to do with his baseball platform -- give back to the community the same way his father did with the Sheffield Family Foundation.

Through the charity, Noah grew up volunteering his time in the soup kitchen during the holidays, assisting with toy/food drives and mentoring many of the youth in the neighborhood on and off the diamond.

Noah wants to focus his work on helping the homeless community find shelter, food and giving them the appropriate resources to get back on their feet.

“No matter what happened in their life, you don't deserve to be on the street,” Noah said. “That's just big for me. I wish I could just go out and buy people houses and set up a community. I want to basically find homeless people and change lives because they don't they don't deserve that.”

It all circles back to the attitude Gary helped him develop: nothing is given. But when you have the resources to succeed, be sure to give back in any way possible.