(Article Originally Published 10/26/10. Photo by Dave Freeman taken at Shephard’s Place at Yankee Stadium in 2009)
Back in 2007, on a random night at Shea Stadium, I got into a conversation after the Met game about the Brooklyn Dodgers with my friend Bill Shannon.
We sat in the cafeteria and gave me – and radio reporter Bob Trainor – a blow by blow description on why Walter O’Malley moved his team to Los Angeles and how much it differed to the current version circulating today.
I didn’t get home to 2:30 that morning and it was maybe the best three hours I spent talking baseball, because if you had a question on the sport, Bill knew it and it was not just baseball, but football, basketball, hockey and even tennis.
Unfortunately, those days are gone as Bill passed away in a house fire at his home in West Caldwell, NJ this morning. The New York sports community lost a great today as Shannon was not just any sports writer, but one who was as big as the game itself.
I only know my experience with him and that was of a very kind man who was willing to lend a hand to anyone in the press box. Bill was a resource everyone used. If there was a rules clarification, we went to Bill. If you wanted to know something that happened in baseball history, you went to Bill. And of course, if you just wanted good conversation, you went to Bill.
It was that kindness that made working some of these games very, very enjoyable. While many writers are out for themselves, Bill was willing to help no matter what. So when a time this season, he needed someone to cover the Mets clubhouse because the AP was a reporter short, I easily agreed. How could I not?
Bill’s knowledge, though, is just part of the story. His dedication to his craft made him a mentor to many a New York area sports writer. I sat next to him on numerous occasions during the past five season and frankly, those three hour games became educations. A class with Professor Shannon where you enjoyed learning and were afraid to fail. And you wouldn’t because of his easygoing style and ability to explain the intricacies of the game.
And when I started research on a baseball book last year, Bill was the first person I called. He sat down with me for three hours and explained the history of all the New York stadiums . It helped lay a foundation for me that eventually will lead into my first historical publication.
Sadly, those days are over as the first of West Caldwell silenced one of baseball greatest minds. I am only consoled by the fact that there is a baseball game going on in the sky where Joe McCarthy just took Cy Young out of the game and Bill is there scoring the game and calling out the line of Young in his patented way – “2 runs – both earned – 2 hits, 3 walks and Nooooo Strikeouts!”
Rest in peace my friend. The press box won’t be the same without you.