NOT IN ARLINGTON, Texas — There are a million great things about being a sportswriter (a million and one if you count reader comments that accompany online missives). Big events create a timeline of your life. It’s one of the things I’ll miss as I stay home while the Dodgers and Rays slug it out at Globe Life Field.
I can’t claim a streak like the Washington Post’s great Tom Boswell, who this week wrote about not attending the World Series for the first time since 1975. Bos covered 44 straight Fall Classics and 252 games. I have press passes from 30 World Series.
Some collectible moments:
▪ Game 6, 1977. Yankees-Dodgers. Yankee Stadium. Reggie Jackson hits three homers on three swings to clinch the deciding game. It’s my first Series as a reporter, and in a dangerously packed postgame clubhouse, I get squeezed into Bill White’s live ABC-TV interview with Mr. October.
It’s a Gumpesque moment that lives forever online, and I still get asked about it when the Yankees replay the scene on the stadium video board during rain delays.
▪ Game 1, 1979. Orioles-Pirates. Memorial Stadium. Manchester, N.H.'s, Mike Flanagan, winner of 23 games and the AL Cy Young Award, is scheduled to pitch the opener against the Pirates. Hours before the game, I bump into Mike’s dad at the ticket window, and Mr. Flanagan’s tickets are not at Will Call. I explain to the ticket folks that this is Mike Flanagan’s dad, and they find his tickets. Flanagan beats the Pirates, 5-4.
▪ Game 7, 1986. Red Sox-Mets. Shea Stadium. Walking toward the team bus after the crushing loss, Bruce Hurst ducks into the Mets clubhouse to congratulate former teammate Bobby Ojeda, who is pouring champagne over the heads of other Mets.
After Hurst emerges, we trudge across the diamond toward buses waiting beyond the right field bullpens. While we walk, an empty liquor bottle, hurled from the upper deck, hits Sox veteran traveling secretary Jack Rogers in the head.
Mike McNamara, son of the Red Sox manager, rips off his T-shirt and uses it to compress the wound while young Roger Clemens picks up the bottle and angrily hurls it toward the stands.
The Sox fly from LaGuardia to Logan, bus to Fenway, and get their luggage at the park at 3:15 a.m. I walk from the ballpark to a Kenmore Square convenience store, where the front page of the morning Globe screams, “Boston is Mudville once again.”
▪ Game 7, 1987. Twins-Cardinals. Hubert Humphrey Metrodome. Frank Viola beats the Cardinals, 4-2, in the finale as 55,000 scream and wave Homer Hankies. No one in the stands leaves the postgame celebration as the Twins disappear into their clubhouse. When the Twins reemerge from their dugout, they run a victory lap on the warning track as “We Are The Champions” plays. It is the loudest event of my career.
▪ Game 1, 1988. Dodgers-A’s. Dodger Stadium. Sitting in the auxiliary press box with Leigh Montville, I put the finishing touches on my game account of the A’s win. It’s going to be an early worknight in LA. Then Kirk Gibson hobbles out of the dugout and homers off Dennis Eckersley.
▪ Game 3, 1989. Giants-A’s. Candlestick Park. Sitting in the open-air, upper-deck aux box with Stan Grossfeld, I’m filing a boring pregame column about Matt Williams when the entire stadium starts to rock. Grossfeld says, “Earthquake,” and immediately starts taking photos of fans.
I think the whole upper deck is going to give way and crash on everybody down below. When the shaking stops, fans cheer. The game is postponed, and it’s a scramble to write and find a working landline to file before they evict us from the upper deck.
Unable to drive across the Bay Bridge (some of it fell into the bay) to my Berkeley hotel, I attend Candlestick’s postgame tent party, which is illuminated by candles.
▪ Game 3, 2001. Yankees-Diamondbacks. Yankee Stadium. It’s the first big event in New York since 9/11. It takes a couple of hours to pass through security. Well worth it. With snipers stationed atop the stadium and a torn American flag (recovered from Ground Zero) adorning the flagpole in center, President George W. Bush strides out of the Yankee dugout, takes the mound, and fires a perfect strike. Nothing else matters.
▪ Game 4, 2004. Red Sox-Cardinals. Busch Stadium. Thousands of Red Sox fans take over the lower bowl and celebrate as Red Sox players, executives, families, and friends hug and drink champagne on the infield.
Like everyone else in the Boston media, I’m scrambling around, getting quotes from the joyous throng, when a “Shaughnessy sucks!” chant breaks out in the stands over the third base dugout. Curt Schilling and Jason Varitek walk by me and ask, “Are we frauds now?”
▪ Game 5, 2013. Red Sox-Cardinals. Busch Stadium. Typing madly on deadline after Jon Lester beats the Cardinals, I hear the voice of David Ortiz coming out of the press box loudspeaker, asking, “Where’s Dan Shaughnessy?” Ortiz is downstairs in the interview room, calling me out. I am upstairs in the press box.
At Fenway the next night, I find Ortiz in the dugout after batting practice and ask him if he is looking for me and he says, “No.”
In Game 6, the “Boston Strong” Red Sox win the World Series at Fenway for the first time since 1918.
▪ Game 3, 2014. Giants-Royals. AT&T Park. Watching free agent-to-be Pablo Sandoval take batting practice, I write, “The Red Sox can’t sign Pablo Sandoval fast enough. Truly. John, Tom, and Larry need to bring the Kung Fu Panda to Fenway Park. I promise never to rip Sandoval for being out of shape or going on the disabled list. It makes perfect sense … What’s not to love about Sandoval?”
▪ Game 7, 2016. Cubs-Indians. Progressive Field. In a tense moment before Game 7, Tribe manager Terry Francona arrives for his mandatory pregame press conference. I open the questioning with, “Would you call this a must-win game, coach?” Francona laughs. The Indians lose to the Cubs, cementing Theo Epstein’s place in Cooperstown.
▪ Game 7, 2017. Astros-Dodgers. Dodger Stadium. Houston coach Alex Cora, who had already been named Red Sox manager but wouldn’t talk about it until he was done with the Astros, speaks about the Red Sox for the first time after the Astros win the World Series (we did not know they were cheating). “I’m ready to come to Boston,” says a champagne-drenched Cora.
▪ Game 3, 2018. Red Sox-Dodgers. Dodger Stadium. After the Dodgers fail to score in the bottom of the 17th, some of us in press row groan about a seven-hour, 20-minute game that is about to go into the 18th inning. Meanwhile, colleague Nick Cafardo smiles and says, “Isn’t this great?”
They were all great, Nick. Wish we were there now.