By now, most know of the tragic passing of legendary MLB Official Scorer Bill Shannon this past October. Mr. Shannon was many things, not the least of which was the “father” of modern-day baseball official scoring. He was one of the last Official Scorers to be appointed by the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA), prior to its abdication of overseeing Official Scorers in 1980. For many years he tirelessly assisted that organization in its endeavors, and will fittingly be honored by the BBWAA’s New York Chapter early next year.
Mr. Shannon shared his vast knowledge with anybody and everybody who asked. In regards to official scoring, he mentored countless sportwriters, broadcasters, statisticians, front office staff, players, coaches, moguls, interns, barbers, repairmen – the list is endless. Anyone who has ever asked me a baseball rules or scoring question can be assured that my understanding came from one of my many conversations with him. His expertise was even called upon by Major League Baseball when he was asked to take part in the discussions that led to the last update to the Official Baseball Rules.
Mr. Shannon’s generosity was without boundary. In a world where it can be argued that social networking has destroyed the concept of two-way human interaction, Bill Shannon was unquestionably the Patron Saint of CONVERSATION. He enjoyed speaking AND he enjoyed listening, and wouldn’t let a discussion end until every possible branch of it had been explored by all parties.
In the spirt of two-way conversation, it is my hope is that once the college baseball season starts in the early spring that I will get the opportunity to discuss here the many scoring situations that take place across the collegiate diamonds, and then continue those discussions into the professional baseball seasons. Please accept this open invitation to post comments or ask questions – rules, scoring, statcrew or otherwise.
I ask you – my friends of the world wide web – let’s have a “conversation” about baseball…official scoring.
BASEBALL…OFFICIAL SCORING BLOG#09
In honor of yesterday’s announcement that Andre Dawson was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA), It seemed fitting to devote an entry to the Hall of Fame…and Official Scorers.
Dawson is the 292nd person to be elected to the Hall of Fame, which includes 203 former Major League players, 35 Negro league players, 26 executives and pioneers, 19 managers, and nine umpires. Henry Chadwick (HOF Class of 1938), who was elected under the pioneer category, is the only Official Scorer among the group of 292. Chadwick is credited with inventing the baseball box score and likely was the first person to ever “score” a professional baseball game.
There is an explanation as to why it appears that Official Scorers have been overlooked. For sixty years (1920-1980) it was the responsibility of the the BBWAA to provide an Official Scorer at every major league baseball game. Since 1980 it has been the responsibility of Major League Baseball itself to appoint Official Scorers for both the American and National Leagues, and in many cases retired BBWAA members have served in that capacity.
To that end, the J.G. Taylor Spink Award has been awarded to baseball writers for their meritorious contributions to the field of baseball writing. Just like the winners of the Ford Frick Award for Broadcasting, the J.G. Taylor Spink Award recipients are not truly “members” of the hall of fame. Their names are inscribed on an exhibit called “Scribes and Mikemen” outside of the main library at the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Many of these Spink Award winners have also served as Official Scorers. Below are listed the winners of the J.G. Taylor Spink Award who have definitely served as a major league Official Scorer sometime during their career. The year they won the award is also included in parenthesis.
Bob Addie – Washington, DC (1981)
Bob Broeg – St. Louis (1979)
Warren Brown – Chicago (1973)
Gordon Cobbledick – Cleveland (1977)
Earl Lawson – Cincinnati (1985)
Dan Daniel – New York (1972)
John Drebinger – New York (1973)
Charley Feeney – New York (1996)
Tommy Holmes – Brooklyn (1979)
Jerome Holtzman Chicago (1989)
James Isaminger – Philadelphia (1974)
John F. Kieran – New York (1973)
Jack Lang – Brooklyn (1986)
Joe McGuff – Kansas City (1984)
Ray Kelly – Philadelphia (1988)
Fred Lieb – New York (1972)
Sid Mercer New York (1969)
Shirley Povich – Washington, DC (1975)
Harry G. Salsinger – Detroit (1968)
Ken Smith – New York (1983)
J.G. Taylor Spink – St. Louis (1962)
J. Roy Stockton – St. Louis (1972)
Dick Young – New York (1978)
The list above is likely incomplete. Also, I have not included any Frick Award winners since I am unaware of any broadcasters who have served as an Official Scorer.
In compliling the list above, many thanks go out to:
Official Scoring in the Big Leagues, written by Bill Shannon (2006), and to Keith Olbermann who assisted Mr. Shannon with some of his research.