Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Bill Shannon, 1941-2010

Yankee fan, baseball writer and official American League scorekeeper Bill Shannon, 69, died in a fire at his mother's house in New Jersey Tuesday morning. Marty Noble's obituary for him at is thorough, fittingly sentimental and beautifully expressed:

Shannon was a character, different from most of the denizens of the press box. He stuck with sideburns longer than most, and had no use for computers, cellullar phones or other electronic gadgets of the day. When he scored, all that was in front of him on the press box desktop was his pens, scoring sheets, cups and cups of Pepsi and a deli sandwich he had purchased near his mother's home. His Pepsi consumption cost him his teeth, but he could get through a thick sandwich without trouble.
The book of scoring rules remained in his satchel, no need to reference it. Shannon might not have known the numbers and letters and paragraphs of the scoring rules, but he knew the rules and spirit of the rules. Jordan Sprechman is an attorney. He was one of Shannon's friends and business associates. They co-authored one book "This Date in New York Sports" and were collaborating on "Who's Who in New York Sports." Sprechman also is one of New York's official scorers.
"Bill didn't need to have the rulebook out. He knew what rule applied," he said. "Sure enough, you'd look it up and Bill had it right."
Shannon was considered a press box authority. He kept track of pitches before pitching coaches did and timed innings so when a particularly long one occured -- see Steve Trachsel, Jim McAndrew and all Yankees-Red Sox games -- he knew precisely how much time had passed. He delivered the pitching lines in unique fashion that prompted plebes to wonder.
He would speak the line -- say: seven innings, six hits, three runs, two earned, three walks, two strikeouts, one home run and one hit batsman. Then he'd repeat it at a quicker pace, pausing with one entry remaining. Then with great emphasis on the number, he would say "and one hit batsman." It became a ritual.
You should go and read the rest here.

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