Baseball writer Bill Shannon dies in NJ house fire

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WEST CALDWELL, N.J. (AP) - Bill Shannon, a baseball historian, author and an official scorer at New York Yankees and Mets games for decades, died in an early morning house fire Tuesday.

West Caldwell fire chief Charlie Holden said the three-alarm fire was called in just before 9 a.m. and brought under control within an hour. Holden identified Shannon, 69, as the only fatality.

Neighbors were able to rescue Shannon’s 92-year-old mother, Mildred, through the front door. She suffered what are believed to be non-life threatening injuries, said Acting Essex County Prosecutor Robert Laurino. She was taken to St. Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, where she was in fair condition.

One neighbor placed a ladder up to the second floor to reach Shannon, but Shannon told the neighbor he was unable to break the window and disappeared into the thick smoke.

Shannon became an official scorer for the American League in 1979 and the National League one year later, and in recent seasons was the senior official scorer for games of the New York Yankees and Mets. He also contributed stories to The Associated Press.

Jason Zillo, director of media relations and publicity for the Yankees, described Shannon as “a kind and gentle soul.”

“He loved the game of baseball, immersing himself in its intricacies, nuances and rules,” Zillo said. “Most of all, he loved the relationships he built and sustained through his dedication to the sport and his craft.”

After attending Columbia University and serving in the Army, he was the head of public relations for Madison Square Garden from 1965-73 as it moved into its new building. He was longtime assistant on the press staff for the U.S. Tennis Association.

He authored the book, “The Ballparks,” a history of major league baseball stadiums and edited “The Official Encyclopedia of Tennis of the United States Tennis Association.”

Shannon also founded the New York Sports Museum & Hall of Fame, which planned to build a sports history museum in New York.

The cause of the fire is under investigation. It does not appear to be suspicious, according to Jeffrey Cartwright, an assistant prosecutor and director of the office’s arson unit.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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