Dan Shaughnessy brings humility, humor to lecture

Nov 24, 2018

MATTAPOISETT— Though he is a big name in Boston sports, Dan Shaughnessy did not seem to want to hear himself talk when he came to the Mattapoisett Library for a talk on Saturday.

He instead delivered some brief remarks, drawing on his wit and self-depreciating jokes, before opening the floor up to audience questions.

His sister Anne Martin, who lives in Mattapoisett, introduced him and told the audience his passion for sports was so great that when he was a kid he would play wiffle ball for hours against himself, inventing imaginary teams and elaborate rules as to which team won.

In return, Shaughnessy talked about what it was like to see Anne outperform him at sports.

“It killed me to have my sister be better than I was,” he admitted.

After some lighthearted reminiscing about potential sports-related books for teenagers, Shaughnessy headed into the meat of his discussion about “the state of Boston Pro Sports teams.”

His main point was that Boston is currently in a Renaissance period for their sports teams, having won 11 championships in this century across all of its sports teams.

Some would say that the 2018 Red Sox are the greatest team in franchise history, but Shaughnessy speculated that the 2004 Red Sox would beat the current team in a matchup.

While he was confident with some of his assertions, Shaughnessy also admitted that he didn’t know everything, including the infamous Malcolm Butler play in the Super Bowl.

He also seemed thrilled to be named to the Baseball Writers Hall of Fame in 2016, but he poked fun at the process by comparing the paper ballot to the type of election that John Quincy Adams had in 1824.

When Shaughnessy opened the floor up for questions some people asked sweeping questions about sports, some asked about specific names in sports, and others asked about Shaughnessy as a writer.

One fan asked what Shaughnessy thought of Manny Ramirez, prompting a humorous story about how Ramirez was briefly accused of reading the other team’s signs during a World Series game against the Cardinals, only to have a teammate explain that he likely was not because “Manny doesn’t even know our signs!”

Another audience member asked about Ernie Adams, a mysterious advisor to Bill Bellichik. Shaughnessy was able to give background, but could not confirm what Adams does.

Other audience members asked about parity on sports teams, which Shaughnessy doesn’t consider a real issue. One man even asked whether Shaughnessy thought that sports players were overcompensated. His response was that they probably are, but that’s indicative of the importance of sports and leisure in American life.

Another line of questioning had to do with Shaughnessy as a writer. One attendee asked what it was like to work with Will McDonough, to which Shaughnessy replied, “he was like a dad to me,” adding later that sports writers on the Globe today “don’t know the games as well as he did.”

When another attendee asked how Shaughnessy gets access to the big names in sports as sources, the sports writer replied that it was mostly a matter of having been around a long time.

Still, he noted that he doesn’t have a lot of inside sources because “I write everything I know,” rather than protecting sources, often alienating them in the process.

After the lecture, Shaughnessy attended a reception in the library, where he continued the discussion on Boston sports.