When Shawn McFarland was offered the opportunity to cover an MLB team for a major metropolitan paper with one of the country’s best sports sections, he took it with no second thought. But he had no idea that he would be covering a World Series championship during his first year on the beat.
McFarland, who graduated from Springfield College in 2018 majoring in Communications/Sports journalism, is now a beat writer for the Dallas Morning News, where he covered the World Series-winning Texas Rangers. Before that, he covered Texas high school football, basketball and baseball for the paper coupled with parts of the PGA Tour.
“We had an opening on our Rangers beat alongside Evan Grant, our longtime baseball writer for 30 years,” McFarland said. “They asked me if I was interested in it, and obviously, I took it… everything’s always very fluid in this industry. We’ll see what else they want to throw on my plate.”
Grant, who has been honored twice as a top 10 beat writer in the country throughout his prestigious career, was a huge help at the beginning of McFarland’s tenure with the Morning News.
McFarland has gotten used to traveling from one city to the next countlessly, but when the Rangers made the playoffs, it was one of the more hectic times in his young career. McFarland got to attend every playoff game, but because the Rangers were a wild card, they played many road games, meaning McFarland was forced to sleep in a hotel for 23 nights throughout October.
“I got to Tampa on a Monday and wrote a story there for two days,” McFarland said. “Then, I flew to Baltimore on Thursday morning, which I booked the night before. This isn’t even half of it. You can’t book anything until you know the series is over. It was definitely a lot.”
While the traveling situation wasn’t ideal, he noted that the Rangers’ players were beneficial, giving him meaningful answers before and after games.
“All the guys in the Rangers’ clubhouse are terrific guys to talk to,” McFarland said. “Mitch Garver gave me really good answers. He’s a very normal guy for being a Silver Slugger award winner. Dane Dunning, one of the starting pitchers, was very gracious with his time and very honest with me. He’s one of those guys you can chat with off to the side and just have random conversations. He loves fantasy football, so we talked about that.”
After graduating from Springfield, McFarland worked for the Hartford Courant, covering high school and collegiate athletics in Connecticut, but the halt due to COVID caused a road bump.
So, he gambled and moved to Dallas for the Morning News. He knew it was a risk, but he didn’t regret it at all.
“It all paid off. It’s great to know that everything worked out,” McFarland said.”The long hours of doing God-knows-what for various internships and part-time jobs over the years. To do my job for a place that respects me, for a readership that is hungry for stories, and a place where I can make a comfortable living is truly amazing. You forget the road you take to get there because once you’re here, it’s like, all right, this is exactly what I wanted to do. It all worked out.”
But he didn’t forget about his time on Alden Street and what he got out of being involved in the Springfield College community.
“Springfield allowed me to do a lot of work. I was the sports editor [of the student newspaper] as a sophomore and the editor-in-chief for two years,” he said. “I could do internships and part-time jobs for writing, in addition to classwork and all that. I think that helped me. I think Springfield helped me get used to the grind regarding journalism and the amount of work that it takes, as well as what you need to be good at this,” McFarland said. “It doesn’t matter what school someone goes to, whether it’s a small private school or a big state school — It’s the commitment that matters.”
McFarland isn’t the only recent COSJ program alum who covered a title-winning team in 2023. While the Rangers won the World Series in McFarland’s first year covering them, 2022 graduate Joe Arruda covered the championship-winning University of Connecticut Men’s basketball team for the Hartford Courant.
It was also his first season on the beat and, ironically, McFarland’s old job.
“Springfield journalists are just good luck charms,” McFarland said with a chuckle.
Photo courtesy of Shawn McFarland