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dan shaughnessy

Unpacking 50 years worth of memories from covering the sports scene

Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy received the Baseball Writers Association of America's Career Excellence Award in 2016 at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.Heather Ainsworth

Boston sports.

So many stories. Sometimes all at once.

The Globe keeps track of stories you like to read. There’s a “most read on” feature on our digital site. On Sunday and Monday, there were times when nine of the 10 most-read Globe articles were sports-related.

Wednesday, Oct. 4, marks the 50th anniversary of my first Boston Globe byline. It was a feature filed from Worcester (not sure how — dictation? US Mail? carrier pigeon?) in which I wrote about a Holy Cross receiver who was prepping for a game at Dartmouth. My little HC football story was not one of the 10 “most read” that day, but it was a big moment for a 20-year-old college junior who grew up reading Ray Fitzgerald, Clif Keane, Bud Collins, and Will McDonough.


Everything is quantifiable in 2023, and with this golden anniversary approaching, I reached out to the Globe library to see if they could tell me how many bylines followed that first one. Jerry in our library replied almost immediately and reported there have been 9,197 Shaughnessy stories since ‘73. That’s a lot of tomato cans.

Adding Sunday’s column on Terry Francona and Monday’s tribute to the late Tim Wakefield, today makes an even 9,200. But I know there were more. The HC football feature no doubt was tossed for the later editions and never registered. Many of my Boston Neighborhood Basketball League stories and high school ditties no doubt faded into the ether. I didn’t work at the Globe from the spring of ‘77 to the fall of ‘81 (Orioles coverage for Baltimore Evening Sun and Washington Star, both deceased).

Those long-ago games, players, people, and moments — before we became a city of champions — leave footprints on my brain.

I remember ...


... My first week in the Globe building in the pre-busing summer of ‘74, driving company-issued Dodge Darts across the city to report on BNBL summer games in Southie, Roxbury, Charlestown, and a dozen other neighborhoods. A kid from Central Mass. and Holy Cross, I couldn’t understand why everyone was so angry.

... A tiny blond-haired boy sitting on his mom’s lap at a Lower Mills BNBL game, watching his Uncle Joe play for the Hemenway AC. The kid — Billy Curley — grew up to play parts of seven NBA seasons and today coaches basketball at Emerson.

How it all began.Dan Shaughnessy

... Eating free Lobster Newburg at a 1975 World Series media party, and — when the sports department couldn’t locate the legendary Peter Gammons — cobbling together a “World Series notebook” with young Kevin Dupont.

... A Thayer Academy hockey center named David Silk, who wound up winning a gold medal with the “Miracle on Ice” team in Lake Placid.

... Meeting disgraced President Richard Nixon in the press box of Anaheim Stadium. Nixon was close with then-Angels owner Gene Autry.

... Trying to get a quote from Orioles outfielder John Lowenstein when he was in a rush to catch the team charter. Lowenstein told me, “I don’t have anything for you right now, but if you think of something I might have said, you can quote me!”

... Being on hold, waiting for George Steinbrenner to come to the phone, when my New York hotel TV flashed breaking news that Thurman Munson had been killed in a plane crash.


... Retired football coach George Allen giving me directions to his Palos Verdes home, finishing with, “You’ll see a goalpost at the end of my driveway. Turn there.”

... Sitting in the bleachers during a BYU basketball practice, asking Toronto Blue Jays infielder Danny Ainge if he was interested in playing in the NBA.

... Being introduced to a woman identified as “Monique — Playmate of the Year,” by Jerry Buss in the Laker owner’s private suite at the LA Forum.

... Interviewing a reluctant Jim Rice moments after he rescued a child who’d been hit by a line drive in the lower boxes near the Red Sox dugout.

Jim Rice took quick action to aid a boy in a 1982 game at Fenway.Wendy Maeda/Globe Staff

... Being scolded by Red Auerbach after not dropping his name when buying a car from Red’s Toyota dealer friend: “[Expletive], you’re like one of those guys from the IRS who won’t take a key chain from me when I try to give him a gift!”

... Calling Larry Bird in French Lick, Ind., and having his mom tell me he was out back cutting the lawn. When Bird came to the phone, he said, “What’s up, Scoop? I heard Nancy Parish hit you with her purse after we beat the Lakers!”

Larry Bird (left) always seemed ready with a quip for the author.Stan Grossfeld/Globe staff/File

... Meeting O.J. Simpson and his girlfriend, Nicole, at a small New Year’s Eve party the night before covering the 1986 Rose Bowl.

... Waiting for a commercial flight at the Sacramento airport, telling Bird & Co. I was leaving the Celtics beat at the end of the road trip, then watching Bird whip out his wallet and say, “I’ll pay your way if you go now.”


... Walking with Bruce Hurst into the Mets clubhouse at Shea Stadium, where Hurst congratulated his former teammate, Bobby Ojeda, after the Mets beat the Sox in the 1986 World Series.

... Shaking off anesthesia and ripping out IV tubes to write a news story when it was learned surly Red Sox skipper John McNamara had been fired on Bastille Day in 1988.

... Sneaking into an empty upper deck at Candlestick Park two days after an earthquake halted the 1989 World Series. I found my scorecard, jacket, and half-full cups of coffee in a ghost-town auxiliary press box that seemed frozen in time.

... Eating lunch with Dee Brown at the Wellesley Inn a week after Brown was stopped by Wellesley Police (guns drawn) in a case of mistaken identity.

... Covering Bird when the Dream Team won the gold medal in Barcelona. “This is my last game here,” Bird told me after his scoreless Olympic finale. “I don’t know about tomorrow.” He retired 10 days later.

... Writing a column that was too angry and rough on Dave Gavitt and the Celtics after learning that Reggie Lewis had dropped dead in the summer of 1993.

... Interviewing Mickey Mantle in a Boston hotel in ‘94 and hearing, “Before Game 2 of the ‘51 Series, Casey Stengel pulled me aside and said, ... ‘[Joe DiMaggio] ain’t moving around very good. Take everything you can get in right-center.’ ”


... Locking my keys inside a Pontiac Grand Am en route to a Florida interview with Ted Williams, who was recovering from a stroke. Globe photographer Frank O’Brien and I broke the car’s window so we would not be late.

... At the ‘96 Olympics, interviewing a USA swim team doctor who’d been a young resident in Memphis the night Elvis Presley died. “He didn’t look very kingly when I last saw him,” said the doc.

... Fearing for my safety when Mo Vaughn grabbed a bat and starting slamming it against a locker while he railed at me about something I’d written.

... Discovering that “Jimmy” of the Jimmy Fund was alive, living in Bourne, and hauling groceries across the country in 1998. “In my day, we were taught to keep things quiet,” said Einar Gustafson, who’d been dubbed “Jimmy” when he was treated by Dr. Sidney Farber in 1948.

... Watching the 1999 Home Run Derby with Stan Grossfeld from a cherry picker stationed on Lansdowne Street outside the left-field wall.

... Having dinner with new Patriots coach Bill Belichick and his consigliere, Berj Najarian, at Stellina in Watertown before Belichick made his debut as head coach of the Patriots.

There would be 12 New England championships and about 3,000 more bylines after that dinner. A lot more memories. And more to come.

Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at Follow him @dan_shaughnessy.