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Dan Shaughnessy

More than 50 years later, these sports clippings are still hanging in there

Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy and a well-preserved section of the collage he made as a boy with clippings from Sports Illustrated and Sport magazine. It now hangs in his home office.Stan Grossfeld/ Globe Staff

It has hovered over my head and shoulders for more than 50 years, a kaleidoscopic collage of sports photos, clipped from the 1960s pages of Sports Illustrated and Sport magazine. It is proof of a time when I loved sports more than anything, and saw fit to wallpaper my childhood bedroom with the gods of my youth.

I was able to preserve a 17-foot section of the star-studded mosaic when my mom sold the house in 1988, and today it hangs in my cluttered home office, reminding me why I wanted to write about sports in the first place. In April of 2020, as we strain to write sports in a world without games, I close the door to my office, sit at a desk, and regularly glance up at those ballplayers from 50 and 60 years ago. I am alternately inspired and saddened when I ponder how many of those heroes I got to know, and how many are no longer with us.

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Hey there, Wilt Chamberlain. Remember the time we talked about your book, and how you claimed you slept with 20,000 women? You were funny and friendly and generous with your time, nothing like the image we had of you when we feared you and booed you when you dueled Bill Russell before 13,909 in the Old Garden. RIP, Goliath.

And you, Bill Russell. I love you on the SI cover from the spring of 1969: “Boston’s Old Guard/The Last Stand.” That was your last hurrah (my home address label is still adhered to that classic cover. It indicates that my subscription will expire in December of 1970. A two-year subscription to Sports Illustrated was quite an extravagance in those years. Must have been a Christmas gift). But as I was saying, Bill, you will always be an icon here in the Hub. We recognize you as the greatest champion of all time. You are ever-intimidating and won’t tolerate fools, but I still remember the time you came to the executive dining room of the old Globe building and regaled us with stories of your playing days. You even apologized for not calling me back when I was writing a book on Red. “Nothing personal,'' you said.

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My sports-crazy quilt came together slowly, starting when I was in junior high school. My father worked at Bemis Bag in East Pepperell, and we always had giant rolls of brown kraft paper in our dirt-floor basement. The rolls were exactly 3 feet wide and served as a nifty canvas for the hundreds of color photos I’d clipped from Sport and SI. I scissored the mural-banner to fit the contours of my windows and door jams — then Scotch-taped color sports photos to the paper, covering every square inch. It went up in sections. Like the Sistine Chapel.

The section I rescued is amazingly preserved. Who knew Scotch tape lasted 50 years?

There’s Mark Spitz rising out of the water in 1968, four years before he would win seven gold medals in Munich. There’s “UCLA’s Happy Giant Lew Alcindor” (who went on to become Kareem Abdul-Jabbar). There’s a 1969 Reggie Jackson in perfect Oakland A’s green and gold. There’s Coco Laboy, the first third baseman in the history of the Montreal Expos. There’s Sandy Koufax, rearing back, readying to snap off a curveball.

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Lew Alcindor changed his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1971.Stan Grossfeld/ Globe Staff

There’s Ted Williams, as rookie manager of the Washington Senators in 1969. Twenty-four years after I taped his photo to my paste-up Picasso, the Splendid Splinter would call the hospital room of my 8-year-old daughter, who’d just been diagnosed with leukemia. Ted and Kate Shaughnessy became telephone pals and she visited him at the Four Seasons when he came to Boston for the last time in 1999. They did not talk about his four years managing the Senators/Texas Rangers.

There’s young Orioles righthander Jim Palmer in classic, high-kick delivery. There’s Brooks and Frank, united for the first time in 1966. There’s Johnny “Pie” McKenzie, watching Phil Esposito crash the net. There’s Pistol Pete Maravich, wearing floppy socks and taking tips from his college coach, dad Press Maravich. I got to cover and know all of them. Frank, Pie, and Pistol are no longer with us.

There’s Bob Beamon, breaking the world long jump record by almost two feet at the Mexico City Olympics in 1968. On my mural, Beamon is surrounded by Frank Robinson, Mike Andrews, Wilt, Joe Namath, and Bob Gibson. The 1960s were sports gold.

Dan Shaughnessy's home office is covered with clippings from various publications.Stan Grossfeld/ Globe Staff

There’s Bart Starr following Jerry Kramer’s block into the end zone and into history in the Ice Bowl. Also, Boston Cadillac dealer Peter Fuller leading Dancer’s Image into the Kentucky Derby winner’s circle (Dancer’s Image would later be disqualified for taking a banned substance — the original juicer).

There’s Joe Torre, an overweight catcher for the Atlanta Braves. Who knew what a critical role Torre would play in the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry?

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There’s Johnny Unitas, Mickey Mantle, Dick Williams, Tony Conigliaro, Don Drysdale, and Harmon Killebrew. Gods, every one. I got to interview all of them. And all of them are gone.

April of 2020 represents the ultimate sports timeout. But the memories linger. And I hope somewhere there’s a 13-year-old kid hanging pictures of LeBron James, Tom Brady, and Mookie Betts on his or her bedroom wall.

Hope he or she saves the shrine. Fifty years from now, there will be sweet stories to tell.

Athletes from a wide range of sports are depicted in Shaughnessy's collection.Stan Grossfeld/ Globe Staff

Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at daniel.shaughnessy@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @dan_shaughnessy.