2016 J.G. Taylor Spink Award Winner Dan Shaughnessy
Born on July 20, 1953, and raised in Groton, Mass., Shaughnessy is the youngest of five children and fell in love with baseball soon after his father, Bill Shaughnessy Sr., took him to Fenway Park in 1961 to see a Red Sox vs. Orioles game.
“No one knows more about the 1962 season than I do, because at that age I was such a sponge,” Shaughnessy said. “I had baseball cards, coins, the Strat-o-Matic game. I’d do 162-game seasons with my dice game.”
Shaughnessy also played baseball, making his high school’s varsity team as a sophomore. But he also caught the writing bug, covering events for his local paper.
“The paper was the Public Spirit, and I used a pseudonym, Lancer, because I was covering events that I was playing in,” Shaughnessy said. “I remember one basketball game in December 1970 when Lancer ripped Dan Shaughnessy because he missed a couple free throws. It was justified.”
Shaughnessy matriculated at The College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass., and considered playing baseball for the Crusaders. But at that crossroads of his life, Shaughnessy chose the press box over the diamond.
“Making the team seemed do-able, but it seemed like it would be a ‘last-guy-on-the-bench’ thing,” Shaughnessy said. “At the same time, the Holy Cross paper was recruiting me because I had written in high school. That was the fork in the road for me. They put me on the freshman football beat, and by my sophomore year I was the sports editor.”
Following the 1978 season, Shaughnessy left to work for the Washington Star, taking on the national baseball beat at that paper. But by 1981, the Star went out of business.
“In 1981, I was in a city with no baseball team, no paper – and no baseball at all thanks to the horrible impasse (the strike) that summer,” Shaughnessy said. “So it was time to go.”
Shaughnessy quickly landed at The Globe, and was covering the Celtics beat during the 1985-86 season when Gammons left the paper.
“That Celtics team is the greatest team of all time, but Boston is all about the Red Sox, so I jumped on that beat,” Shaughnessy said. “I took over in the spring of 1986, and what a ride it was.”
Shaughnessy documented the Red Sox’s run to the World Series and subsequent loss to the Mets, producing the book “One Strike Away” and later “The Curse of the Bambino.” The “Curse” was finally reversed in 2004, and – once again – Shaughnessy became the eyes and ears of Red Sox Nation.
“In my view, 2004 is the greatest sports story ever told…almost Biblical,” Shaughnessy said. “To be down 3-0, and I was working on “Reverse the Curse” the whole year, so I had been talking with (then Red Sox general manager) Theo (Epstein) all year. They’re down 3-0 against the Yankees, and Theo looks at me and says ‘Yeah, your book’s really gonna suck.’ And then to have it all unfold the way it did, the Red Sox winning their first World Series in 86 years.
“There was mystery and nuance, and it was very vivid. I can’t imagine any town being tied to a team like Boston was to the Red Sox in 2004.”
Shaughnessy and his wife Marilou have three children: Sarah, the oldest; their son Samuel William Shaughnessy; and Kate, a cancer survivor who provided a bridge to a relationship with Red Sox legend Ted Williams.
Just another story in a lifetime of tales that Shaughnessy has shared with a grateful audience.
“Even my wife came to me through baseball,” Shaughnessy said. “I met her at a bar in Chicago when I was with Earl Weaver, and she was not impressed with that.
“Baseball has been very good to me.”
Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum