I was shocked this morning to hear the news of the passing of Bill Shannon, the long-time, popular official scorer for the Mets and baseball historian, who died yesterday in a house fire in West Caldwell, a few miles over from my residence in New Jersey. Shannon, 69, lived with his 92-year-old mother, who, fortunately, was rescued from the flames.
I met Shannon in the mid-90s when I was a part-timer for STATS for Mets and Yankees games. As an outsider to the press box, I felt a bit awkward, not knowing where to set up, who to talk to—kinda like high school.
Since I wasn’t a member of the regular press corps, I was relegated to a back row seat at Shea Stadium, not too far from the front-row corner spot where Shannon sat.
He struck me as Norm from Cheers.
Everybody greeted him when he walked in the room, goofing on him, testing his knowledge of game situations and long-ago events. It was my job to keep track of every pitch, every minuscule happening during the course of the games. At the time, pitch counts were becoming a standard component of the box score. When I first started out, I felt a little stressed in getting everything squared away, especially since STATS operated in real-time.
So when Shannon would lean over to ask about the count to see if it matched his, or merely to kibbitz, I didn’t really appreciate it. "Wasn’t that his job to keep track of such things?" I asked myself. "Wasn’t he the veteran professional?" But he was the type that kind of grew on you after awhile.
It’s amazing to see the kind of pick-up the news of his death has received, especially since the role of official scorer, although crucial, is fairly anonymous.
- Billy Altman: Remembering Bill Shannon, baseball’s scorer for all seasons (huffingtonpost.com)
- Bill Shannon dies (nypost.com)
- New York Yankees, New York Mets official scorer Bill Shannon dies in fire (sports.espn.go.com)
- R.I.P Bill Shannon (Wallace Matthews, ESPN)
- Adam Rubin’s obituary on ESPN