NASHVILLE — The Baseball Writers Association of America has named Dan Shaugnessy, columnist for the Boston Globe, as the winner of the J.G. Taylor Spink Award. He will be honored by the Baseball Hall of Fame for his “meritorious contributions to baseball writing” during the induction ceremonies in Cooperstown next July.
Shaughnessy isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, to put it mildly. He has feuded with Red Sox players and executives over and over again, often in columns supported by anonymous comments from Sox ownership and senior management. The BBWAA press release announcing his award itself notes that “[i]n 2006, Shaughnessy wrote a column which forced Theo Epstein to resign as Red Sox general manager.” Epstein’s resignation, however temporary it was, is said to have been based, in part, on his anger at then-Red Sox president and CEO Larry Lucchino for leaking to Shaugnessy. More recently he has feuded with David Ortiz, essentially accusing him of taking performance enhancing drugs following his hot start in May of 2013.
Shaughnessy has likewise inveighed against online baseball writers and analysts, their readers and their interests, often in his annual Hall of Fame column. In 2009 he called those arguing in favor of Edgar Martinez’s Hall candidacy “The stat geeks, those get-a-lifers who are sucking all the joy out of our national pastime.” The following year he called those who opposed Jack Morris “silly stat shut-ins.” He did not, it seems, extend that criticism to his Boston Globe colleague, Pete Abraham, who did not support Jack Morris’ Hall of Fame case, suggesting his issue was not with whom one supports for the Hall of Fame but the platform from which they voice their support. Meanwhile, Shaugnessy’s own Hall of Fame voting decisions were often inconsistent, taking players off and putting them back on his ballot from year to year with seemingly no rhyme nor reason.
Now Shaughnessy himself is being honored at the Hall of Fame by his BBWAA peers. Which, criticisms of his style and approach notwithstanding, is in keeping with past standards for the honor. Shaugnessy has had a long and notable journalism career, having covered Boston and national sports for the Globe since 1981. Before that he wrote for the Baltimore Evening Sun and Washington Star. He has written several books about baseball including his most famous one, “The Curse of the Bambino.” He is also credited with popularizing the phrase, “Red Sox Nation.” No matter what you think of Shaugnessy, you can’t deny that he has made a mark, both on the beats he covers and in the national sports conversation at large.
Shaughnessy received 185 votes from the 417 ballots cast, including one blank ballot and is the 67th winner of the award since 1962. The late Furman Bisher, who covered baseball in Atlanta for nearly 60 years was second with 157 votes. Juan Vene received 74.
The Hall of Fame induction ceremony will take place July 22-25, 2016, in Cooperstown, N.Y.