HARVARD — Dan Shaughnessy is best known for trading literary jabs with the occasional professional athlete and suggesting that the Red Sox were cursed.
But local readers saw a different side of the award-winning Boston Globe columnist on June 14 when he came to the Harvard Public Library to promote his new book, “Senior Year: A Father, A Son, and High School Baseball.”
The largely biographical work focuses on the senior year of Shaughnessy, his son, Sam, and the role team sports played with each.
“Basically, the book is dedicated to all the people who coach and teach our children,” he said. “That was really the point of it.”
The author was well-received by approximately 50 residents at Volunteer Hall in the new library. He spoke for approximately half an hour and took questions on a variety of topics.
Shaughnessy, a father of three, said the book was inspired by his youngest son’s senior year of high school. That and attending the funeral of a family member reminded him how special time is and prompted him to put it into writing.
The work also drew on Shaughnessy’s own high school journals, which chronicle what he termed the toughest years in modern young life — which are nonetheless a special rite of passage.
“It’s an homage to high school, kids, parents and sports,” he said. “It was a special time for me, and I was really happy to put it down.”
Shaughnessy said there was plenty to contrast from his days as a teen in Groton and his son’s experiences in modern-day Newton. While playing sports was something of a common thread, Sam’s athletic talent and subsequent recruitment for college baseball differed from the experience of his father, who was primarily a bench player on a good team.
Nevertheless, the elder Shaughnessy termed high school athletics — and being part of something larger than himself — as a valuable learning experience.
“I was very fortunate to have very good coaches,” he said. “There’s a value to being on a team even if you don’t play It was just a great experience, and being part of that really changed my life.”
While much of the discussion centered on the new book, patrons couldn’t resist asking Shaughnessy a few questions about the Red Sox.
Topics raised included Roger Clemens, who he termed perhaps the greatest right-handed pitcher ever; the signing of Japanese sensation Daisuke Matsuzaka, which he termed an excellent move; and Curt Schilling, who was termed an immortal institution for delivering the World Series and a blowhard.
Asked if he’s planning a move into full-time book-writing, Shaughnessy said he enjoys the newspaper business, which allows him the opportunity to weigh in on topics like San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds challenging the all-time home-run record.
“I like the daily column,” he said. “I like the buzz, like when I get to kick the crap out of Barry Bonds tomorrow — It’s great fun.”
While a lot of good times were described in the new book as well, Shaughnessy describes it as a “warts and all” description of the senior-year experience. That includes the pressures to succeed and the challenges of parenting. Shaughnessy described himself as the type of parent who stayed up until his son was home and indicated that was part of the story as well.
“You had to be honest if it was going to work,” he said.