Despite what you may have heard, Dan Shaughnessy was not inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame this weekend. He was given the J.G. Taylor Spink Award, presented at the Baseball Hall of Fame, and will be recognized in the media exhibit at the Hall.
There is no induction, he has no plaque.
That doesn’t stop the lie from spreading.
— Michael Silverman (@MikeSilvermanBB) July 23, 2016
So with Dan Shaughnessy being inducted in Cooperstown, can we have s separate Groton wing of The Hall? And our pics in Forcino's?
— Peter Gammons (@pgammo) December 8, 2015
A truly impressive group of Hall of Famers here for Dan Shaughnessy's induction into writers wing, including Pedro, Rice, Eck, Boggs, Fisk
— Gordon Edes (@GordonEdes) July 23, 2016
— Adam Kaufman (@AdamMKaufman) July 24, 2016
Feel like I've been reading @Dan_Shaughnessy my whole life. Great to see him win Spink Award. He will be inducted this summer in Cooperstown
— Ian Browne (@IanMBrowne) December 8, 2015
Oh, but it’s just semantics, right? I hate Dan Shaughnessy so I need to discredit him and take this tremendous honor which has been bestowed upon him and minimize it. Probably because I’m jealous or something, I forget what exactly.
(For those who apparently didn’t get the above paragraph. I don’t “hate” Shaughnessy. I’m accused of it often, so I took that perception and projected it into that statement.)
But, as Rob Neyer wrote last year –
But one of the CENTRAL TENETS of our profession is accuracy, and it’s just wildly inaccurate for a Spink Award winner to describe himself as a Hall of Famer, or to say he’s in the non-existent “writer’s wing” of the Hall of Fame.
Some do try to set the record straight:
Just as a reminder, there no "writer's wing" at the Hall of Fame. Writers aren't inducted. There's a media exhibit. https://t.co/wx4eVItKyY
— Graham Womack (@grahamdude) July 23, 2016
What exactly is this J.G. Taylor Spink Award? Well, it’s pretty vague, actually. The award is voted on by the BBWAA to recognize meritorious contributions to baseball by members of the BBWAA.
That’s all. So this “Hall of Fame” award is the BBWAA voting for a BBWAA member. Only once has a non-BBWAA writer received the award, and that was Roger Angell in 2014. Now if any writer deserved to be inducted in the Baseball Hall of Fame, it might be Roger Angell. But since Angell wasn’t a member of the precious BBWAA they didn’t honor him with the Spink Award until he was 94 years old.
Of course, in 2011 they honored Bill Conlin, six months before he resigned following multiple accusations of child-molestation. Nice timing.
Aside: How has Roger Kahn not been recognized yet? Oh, he’s not a member of the BBWAA.
Here’s more on the award from the actual Baseball Hall of Fame website:
The award is voted upon annually by the BBWAA, via a meeting and subsequent “show of hands” either at the preceding year’s World Series or Winter Meetings. A nominee is recommended by the BBWAA’s Screening Committee prior to the meeting. Each award recipient (not to be confused with an inductee) is presented with a certificate during Hall of Fame Weekend and is recognized in the “Scribes & Mikemen” exhibit in the Library of the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
From now on though, be prepared to hear Shaughnessy introduced as Hall of Fame writer Dan Shaughnessy. (and die a little inside each time.)
So what about these “meritorious contributions to baseball” that Shaughnessy has provided?
You mean like the Curse of the Bambino? That qualifies? Apparently so. If you were around prior to 2004, you remember how much that thing was shoved down our throats. Because of his book(s) Shaughnessy had an active interest in the Red Sox losing at the end of each season in the most painful way possible. He profited from it.
From his work as a beat writer? As a day-to-day baseball beat writer, he was actually not on the job all that long. How many people remember him for that?
Well, OK, he’s been around a long time, I guess. Is this a longevity award?
Here’s the pertinent part:
Shaughnessy, 62, came to the Globe in 1981 after four years of covering baseball for the Baltimore Evening Sun and Washington Star. The Holy Cross College graduate has covered more than 35 spring trainings and 25 World Series. Shaughnessy has written 12 books, nine of them on baseball, notably Curse of the Bambino. He also popularized the phrase, “Red Sox Nation.”
Through his columns, Dan has taken on owners, front offices, managers, coaches and players alike in pertinent issues through good times and bad with the Red Sox. He has covered three championship Red Sox teams, the heartbreaking 1986 season and wrote some of the most eloquent prose in 2004 after Boston ended its 86-year title drought.
In 2006, Shaughnessy wrote a column which forced Theo Epstein to resign as Red Sox general manager. Dan wrote a book on high school baseball; covered high school, NCAA and Cape Cod League baseball, and delivered talks on baseball at the Norman Rockwell Museum and the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. Shaughnessy was the last writer to interview Ted Williams, in 2002, and had exclusive access to Williams in his final years.
We know Shaughnessy didn’t invent the Curse of the Bambino. He just pounded it into the ground. He didn’t coin the phrase Red Sox Nation, either.
Ah yes, his bravery in taking on owners (but not John Henry, he’s his boss) front offices (but not Larry Lucchino, he’s his source) managers (but not Terry Francona, he wrote a book with him) coaches (like who? Wendell “send em in” Kim?) and players (mostly Dominicans.)
He wrote eloquent prose? When? Has anyone ever read a Shaughnessy column and been awestruck by his craftsmanship with words? Just because the Globe put his columns during the 2004 postseason the front page of the paper didn’t make them eloquent.
In 2006, Shaughnessy wrote a column which forced Theo Epstein to resign as Red Sox general manager.
This is stated as if this was an accomplishment! The column was ghostwritten by Larry Lucchino. Epstein resigned because it was clear to him that Lucchino had gone to Shaughnessy, said these things, and acted like Epstein’s new contract was a done deal. It doesn’t even read like a typical Shaughnessy column. But this gets put on his “Hall of Fame” resume?
Epstein didn’t resign out of shame because of something Shaughnessy wrote exposing him. He resigned out of disgust. This is supposedly a feather in Dan’s cap?
Dan wrote a book on high school baseball – to be more accurate, the book was about his son.
Shaughnessy was the last writer to interview Ted Williams, in 2002, and had exclusive access to Williams in his final years.
Why was that? Because Shaughnessy brokered a peace with the duplicitous John Henry Williams, who had taken over his father’s life. Dan would get exclusive access to Ted in exchange for not being critical of what JHW was doing to his father and his business decisions. Brave, indeed.
All that is worthy of being honored at the Hall of Fame?
In recent years Dan Shaughnessy has had no aim other than to make the life of Boston sports fans miserable – during the greatest period of sports success this city has ever seen.
Does that qualify as a “meritorious contributions to baseball?”
It’s worth keeping in mind that the J.G. Taylor Spink Award is really just a media award given out by the media. It doesn’t really have anything to do with the Hall of Fame, other than that is where the award is given, and the recipient will remembered in the media exhibit.
If you look through the names of the writers who have received this award, many of them are all-time greats. Ring Lardner, Grantland Rice, Damon Runyon, Shirley Povich, Red Smith, Dick Young, Jim Murray, Sam Lacey, Jerome Holtzman, Peter Gammons, Angell.
Now Dan Shaughnessy.
Forgive me if I don’t fawn over him, or call him a “Hall of Famer.”