By Edward Sheehan
Hometown Weekly Correspondent
On Monday, August 15, Boston Globe sports columnist Dan Shaughnessy gave an engaging talk at the Walpole Public Library. Shaughnessy was just awarded the J. G. Taylor Spink Award by the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown for his journalistic work. Monday, he spoke about baseball and his experience with various prominent figures of the game before a packed house (notably in attendance was Walpole’s favorite son, former Red Sox manager Joe Morgan).
First, acknowledging his guest, Shaughnessy referred to Morgan’s predecessor, John MacNamara, as a “nasty guy.” Shaughnessy told a story about how during spring training in 1988, he asked MacNamara his opinion on the Sox being projected to win the AL East.
MacNamara responded by saying “sometimes they’ll say that just to get you fired.” His words proved prophetic - later that year, as his team flailed, he was replaced by Morgan, who guided the Sox to the playoffs.
Shaugnessy then talked about Ted Williams, who visited Shaughnessy’s young daughter when she was ill with leukemia. He recounted that even after she recovered, Williams would always make time to talk to her whenever he happened to be in Boston. Shaughnessy then told various other stories, some possibly apocryphal, about Ted Williams’ playing days, particularly about his acrimonious relationship with the press, before going into stories about more recent players.
He said that Bostonians treat Roger Clemens too harshly for his steroid use, saying that for the first several years of his career, he was a very strong pitcher who showed few signs of steroid abuse, and that it seems to him like Clemens only cheated to extend his career once in decline.
He wasn’t so generous, however, with David Ortiz. As Shaughnessy put it, “as a 26-year-old, he was cut from the Minnesota Twins. The Red Sox then sign him in 2003, the year of his positive steroid test, and suddenly, he’s Rambo. The only other guy with a career trajectory like his that I’ve ever seen is Barry Bonds.”
He also described working with former Red Sox manager Terry Francona on Francona’s biography after Francona was unceremoniously fired from the Red Sox organization in 2011.
Shaughnessy’s energetic discussion of baseball invigorated the crowd, and he graciously answered questions for over an hour. The audience continued to discuss the anecdotes Shaughnessy shared as they left the library- clearly the night was a success.