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FRANK SULLIVAN PASSES AWAY … SOX PITCHER, ROCKWELL MODEL: ‘HE DIDN’T BUY US A BEER, THOUGH’

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BY DAN VALENTI

PLANET VALENTI NEWS AND COMMENTARY

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, THURSDAY, JAN. 22, 2016) —  On Dec. 15, 1960, pitcher Frank Sullivan was involved the Biggest Trade in Baseball History when the Boston Red Sox sent him to the Philadelphia Phillies for Gene Conley. Why was it the biggest? Sullivan stood 6’7” tall, with Conley hitting the 6’8”mark.

Conley, of course, was no stranger to Boston. As one of the uber-rare two-sport professional athletes, Conley backed-up the great Bill Russell as a center for the Boston Celtics  from 1958 to 1964. From 1871 to the conclusion of the 2015 baseball season, 18,633 men have played major league baseball. Add in all the men who have played in the NFL, NHL, and NBA, and you’re talking somewhere around 50,000 players. Of that total, only two have won world championships in two of the sports: Otto Graham and Conley, who won three titles with the Celtics (’59, ’60, ’61) and one with the Milwaukee Braves (1957).

THE PLANET once shared breakfast and coffee with Conley in Wayland, and he regaled us with the stories and laughs of a born raconteur, including his famous drunken attempt with Pumpsie Green to board a plane to Israel to teach baseball to Jews.

We met Sullivan at Fenway Park at an Old Timers’ Game in the mid-80s. He had us laughing about some of his antics, including the model racing set he bought that became an obsession with a bunch of guys on the ’59 team. We also talked about his trip to Stockbridge in the mid-‘50s as one of the Red Sox ballplayers to model in Norman Rockwell’s famous painting, “The Rookie.”

Sully told us something few people know. He appeared as himself in the painting, but, since Ted Williams didn’t make the trip east, he doubled as Ted’s stand-in. Jackie Jensen, Sammy White, Maurice McDermott, and Billy Goodman also posed.

He remembered Rockwell as “skinny and tiny, a very nice guy. Prior to the session, Rockwell bought the players lunch.

“He didn’t buy us a beer, though. Imagine. We finally get the day off, and we can’t even have a beer.”

Sullivan loved a good joke, and he possessed a refreshing, one might say quirky, take on life. He was a lefty trapped in a righty’s body.  Thus it saddened THE PLANET to learn of Franklin Leal Sullivan’s passing yesterday. There are too many stories to share, but we are blessed to have them.

Here’s the information as it came to us from the Red Sox:

RED SOX MOURN THE PASSING OF FRANK SULLIVAN

Two-Time All-Star Spent Eight Years as Red Sox Pitcher from 1953-60

BOSTON, MA—Frank Sullivan, a two-time All-Star and a Red Sox Hall of Famer, passed away yesterday in Lihue, HI due to complications from pneumonia at 85 years old.  He was four days shy of his 86th birthday.

One of the Red Sox players immortalized in Norman Rockwell’s iconic 1957 painting, The Rookie, Sullivan had a 90-80 record and 3.47 ERA in eight seasons for Boston from 1953-60.  Over his first five years in the Red Sox rotation from 1954-58, the right-hander was one of the top American League pitchers, ranking second with 153 starts, third with a 3.13 ERA, and fourth with 74 wins.

He led the team in ERA in four straight seasons from 1954-57, one of only five Red Sox pitchers ever to accomplish the feat.  The others are Roger Clemens (7 seasons, 1986-92), Mel Parnell (5 seasons, 1948-52), Lefty Grove (5 seasons, 1935-39), and Cy Young (5 seasons, 1901-05).  In 1955, 1956, and 1958, he served as Boston’s Opening Day starting pitcher.

Sullivan was inducted into the Red Sox Hall of Fame in 2008, 60 years after originally signing with the team in 1948.  Following a two-year stint in the Army during the Korean War in 1951 and 1952, he rose from Single-A Albany to the Red Sox bullpen by mid-1953 for his big league debut.  A year later, the 24-year-old rookie joined the rotation and was credited with a team-best 15 of Boston’s 69 victories.

The 1955 season saw Sullivan go 18-13 with a 2.91 ERA and earn his first All-Star selection. He led the American League in wins (tied), innings (260.0), and starts (35) while ranking fifth in ERA.  His 1956 season featured a second straight trip to the All-Star Game, and in 1957 he led the majors in WHIP (1.06) and again placed fifth in the AL with a 2.73 ERA.

Traded to the Philadelphia Phillies after the 1960 season, Sullivan left the Red Sox ranked fifth among pitchers in team history with 201 starts.  His final stop was with the Minnesota Twins from mid-1962 to 1963, where he pitched under manager Sam Mele, a Red Sox teammate from 1954-55.

Born in Hollywood, CA and raised in nearby Burbank, Sullivan spent the last half-century living on Kauai, a Hawaiian island, and served as director of golf for a number of courses.  His book, Life is More than 9 Innings: Memories of a Boston Red Sox Pitcher, was published in 2009 and contains a series of autobiographical short stories.  He last visited Fenway Park in 2014.

 Sullivan is survived by his wife Marilyn, son Mike, daughter-in-law Leihina, grandson Kapono, and granddaughter Kea, as well as his son Mark, and granddaughters Summer and Lauren.

— RED SOX —

As you can see, Sullivan had a lot of talent. Had he been playing today, he would be making $15 million to $20 million a year. The money, however, doesn’t matter. It’s who he was that counts — a man who lived life on his own terms, a free-spirit in the buttoned down, conformist 50s. RIP, Sully.

——————————————————————————————

“What elephant?”Jimmy Durante, (1935).

“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”

LOVE TO ALL.

The views expressed in the comment section or opinions published within the text other than those of PLANET VALENTI are not those of PLANET VALENTI or endorsed in any way by PLANET VALENTI; this website reserves the right to remove any comment which violates its Rules of Conduct, and it is not liable for the consequences of any posted comment as provided in Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act and PLANET VALENTI’s terms of service.

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Discreet Cat
Discreet Cat
7 years ago

In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida.

Change
Change
7 years ago

Watching domna baker at crosby ask for another 400,000 grand in cash….how about her and him walking around the building. She wants a camera on.the playground. Yon is acting like she had no clue crosby was old

Irvin Corey
Irvin Corey
Reply to  Change
7 years ago

Will someone tell Pam Farron that when a word ends in G she should not drop the G. She sounds uneducated when she does so. Perhaps if she conversated with Lothrop she could loose this bad habit.

xxx
xxx
Reply to  Irvin Corey
7 years ago

Lose irwinidiot.

Irvin Corey
Irvin Corey
Reply to  xxx
7 years ago

xxx conversatin is good

Pam Fairinbalanced
Pam Fairinbalanced
Reply to  Irvin Corey
7 years ago

Slothrop and No Klew Lew were conversatiin so much that the mayor couldn’t get a word in at all. Now i’ll be gettin ready for bed and in the morin i’ll be cookin breakfast and then washin the dishes and driven to work where i’ll be walkin up the big hill.

Pam Fairinbalanced
Pam Fairinbalanced
Reply to  Irvin Corey
7 years ago

every body should be watchin No Klew Lew so they can hear him take a shot at a popular figure.

Change
Change
7 years ago

Now they at the school committee are laughing at how awful it is at crosby but the kids at Allendale are good

Change
Change
7 years ago

She doesn’t know it but she has explained why crosby should close

Gene
Gene
7 years ago

More on topic I remember Frank Sullivan. Good pitcher, would give you 250 innings a year, low ERA. DV you are right. He’d be making $20 million a year today.

More importantly in my mind Sully won an infantry combat medal in Korea.

Shakes His Head
Shakes His Head
Reply to  Gene
7 years ago

I really appreciated today’s article. Thanks Dan.

Dilly Dally
Dilly Dally
7 years ago

Chuxk might haven went to the Funeral.

Nota
Nota
7 years ago

I might take a look at (Jethro) for State Rep. only because he was on the Planet.

Dee
Dee
7 years ago

Where’s the scoop on Sue Carmel?? I figured you would have devoted a whole new column to her.

DL
DL
7 years ago

Off topic – The Council Agenda is out and there will be several changes before them including Directors of Personnel, Finance and Buildings and Maintenance.

Change
Change
7 years ago

10 years ago pittsfield pediatrician s ask city and school leaders to move students to a safer school and stated that constant monitoring of air quality was not normal for children…..Mrs yon is sad for the conditions the crosby student endure,crosby should be closed but there is no immediate threat…..Mrs yon said this is about children. ..really Mrs yon is it about children Allendale school is your responsibility, hold your meetings there and invite the neighbors to talk about this school

Bill Q
Bill Q
7 years ago

J Mel’s buddy is going to Buildings and Maitenance and Matty Kerwood to Finance.

southeast
southeast
Reply to  Bill Q
7 years ago

Ok, so Kerwood lives in Pittsfield and understands finances very well – but I would wonder why he’d give up a cushy job with little oversight for the fishbowl of Pittsfield’s City Hall. Guyer seems to live in Dalton (per the BB) – there is no phone listing for him in my trusty phone book, and I have no idea where Mr. Taylor lives (though somewhere – the Planet has someone who must know).

I want the new Mayor to have her own team. But Mr. Guyer’s resume seems to have nothing which speaks to the complexities of HVAC systems, roofs, windows, security systems, and other building components. I don’t mind some ion the job training as to how to function in the Government word (purchasing, reporting, etc.) – but we are putting a guy in charge of tens of millions of dollars in physical assets who has absolutely no proven work history with them? Incredible. And then we ship our tax dollars out of town – even worse.

Maybe I need to go to Chamber nights and the like. I need a cushy job!! And I live in Pittsfield.

By the way, who is J Mel?

Mike Ward
Mike Ward
Reply to  southeast
7 years ago

Guyer lives in Pittsfield.

Pam Fairinbalanced
Pam Fairinbalanced
Reply to  danvalenti
7 years ago

Director of Building Maintenance? He doesn’t know which end of a screwdriver to hold to bang in a nail. He’ll be buffaloed from day one.

Pam Fairinbalanced
Pam Fairinbalanced
Reply to  Mike Ward
7 years ago

Dews Hinsdale?

Change
Change
7 years ago

Please don’t say kerwood, Barry is just reshuffling the deck,change is almost over…taconic is built and kerwood is back….
Taxes are going. Up in this dump, and Mrs yon is in control of the future

Dowgerhat
Dowgerhat
7 years ago

Under the Bianchi administration, the posted city council agenda also included supporting documentation, such as the resumes’ of the various appointments, correspondences, petitions, etc.
It now is a circumspect abbreviated two page meeting order only. No resumes’ or associated documentation.
Collaborated, open transparency ?…..NOT !

Distressed Cat
Distressed Cat
Reply to  Dowgerhat
7 years ago
Joe Durwin
Joe Durwin
Reply to  Dowgerhat
7 years ago

The city council agendas and full agenda packets (a function of the Clerk’s office, not the mayor’s) have not changed. They are both available on the city website as they have been.
Resumes included http://www.cityofpittsfield.org/government/city_council/docs/cc_packet_01_26_16.pdf

mi
mi
7 years ago

We’re all going into the abyss.

Change
Change
7 years ago

Epa ,water and flint Michigan and the governor
…..Epa, pcbs ,Allendale schools and Mrs yon

Ed Check
Ed Check
7 years ago

Dan,

If you are going to waste time ripping off a cooking show…
1) use the kitchen at PCTV
2) learn how to do it correctly
3) too many other important issues in city to discuss

CosbiesLadies
CosbiesLadies
7 years ago

Same hacks different season.

Bill Q
Bill Q
7 years ago

S E…Jonathan Mele, has an extensive History with the former Rep.

southeast
southeast
Reply to  Bill Q
7 years ago

oh geez.

chuck garivaltis
chuck garivaltis
7 years ago

Dan,

Sully’s best years with the Red Sox were my college years playing baseball in awful spring weather, worse than Pittsfield, but still having Larry Bossidy pitch us to the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska. Beat So. Cal, too. Yes, indeed, really, the Trojans. Summer ball during those years brought me to Canada twice and Iowa one time. So I was out of the loop during Sullivan’s best years with the Red Sox.

I did see him pitch in the early 60’s when I was working in Minneapolis in the dreaded private sector. He had seen his best days by then but was still capable of a few innings of excellence. What stands out is when he came off the mound firing a fast ball he appeared to be halfway to the batter after extending himself and letting go of the ball. Reminded me of a guy named Blackwell who pitched for the Reds in the late 40’s.

Sullivan and Conley were something special to watch.Two very tall athletes with skill and coordination who were a credit to the game. In Conley’s case, both games.

chuck garivaltis
chuck garivaltis
Reply to  danvalenti
7 years ago

Dan, I do not have a problem remembering football games but times at bat are foggy. It was 1955, our sophomore year. I got a couple of hits. One against So. Cal and one against Wake Forest.. Our opening game was against the eventual champion, Wake Forest. They beat us 1- 0. Pitching all 9 for Colgate was Larry Bossidy. Larry pitched in relief against So. Cal helping secure our victory against them. I sprained my ankle stealing second and missed 2 games. Larry’s pitching was outstanding.

A West
A West
Reply to  chuck garivaltis
7 years ago

I always love Chuck’s posts

Bill Q
Bill Q
7 years ago

Expect a full page ad on here as soon as the Melmeister finds out.