Ted Sullivan, Barnacle of Baseball

The Life of the Prolific League Founder, Scout, Manager and Unrivaled Huckster


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About the Book

In his day, perhaps no one in baseball was better known than Irish-born Timothy Paul “Ted” Sullivan. For 50 years, America’s sportswriters sang his praises, genuflected to his genius and bought his blarney by the barrel. Damon Runyon dubbed him “The Celebrated Carpetbagger of Baseball.” Cunning, fast-talking, witty and sober, Sullivan was the game’s first player agent, a groundbreaking scout who pulled future Hall of Famers from the bushes, an author, a playwright and a baseball evangelist who promoted the game across five continents. He coined the term “fan” and was among the first to suggest the designated hitter—because pitchers were “a lot of whippoorwill swingers.” But he was also a convert to the Jim Crow attitudes of his day—black ballplayers were unimaginable to him. Unearthing thousands of contemporaneous newspaper accounts, this first exhaustive biography of “Hustlin’” Ted Sullivan recounts the life and career of one of the greatest hucksters in the history of the game.

About the Author(s)

Pat O’Neill is a retired publicist and marketing executive and former editor of a Colorado weekly newspaper. He currently is president of the board of the Kansas City Irish Center.

Tom Coffman has spent nearly 30 years as a media and government relations practitioner in the solid waste industry. He has worked as a reporter, editor and photographer for a weekly newspaper. He lives in Mission, Kansas.

Bibliographic Details

Pat O’Neill and Tom Coffman

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 285
Bibliographic Info: 64 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2021
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8478-9
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4260-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments v
Preface by Pat O’Neill 1
1. A Long, Long Way from Clare to Here 7
2. Young Sullivan at Old St. Mary’s: Jesuit Priests, Prairie Fires, and a Freshman Phenom 12
3. Playing for Peanuts: Ted and Charlie Take Their Game to Dubuque 18
4. In Fast Company: 1879 Dubuque Rabbits 23
5. Taking on “The Infidels” 30
6. A Sorry State of the Union 44
7. Back to the Bushes 55
8. Not Milwaukee’s Best 68
9. Behind the Plate 74
10. “Senator Sullivan” Goes to Washington 77
11. Back to the “Auld” Country 90
12. Things Go South: Chattanooga and “The Dry Grins,” 1892 102
13. A Tale of Two Sullivans 109
14. At Home on the Range 113
15. Ted Herds His Steers North to New Haven 121
16. Dubuque, Part II 128
17. “Same Old Trick”: Southern Postscript, 1899 135
18. A Midwife of the American League 139
19. The Prodigal Hustler Returns 149
20. “The Original Gumshoe Man”: Beating the Bushes for Prospects 154
21. Sullivan’s ­Off-Base Humor 168
22. Baseball’s Ubiquitous Ambassador 176
23. Show Him the Money 185
24. Next Stop: The World 195
25. Ted’s Magic Lantern Show 218
26. Sox and Saints: Hall of Famers Slay St. Mary’s 223
27. Twilight of a Colorful Career 231
28. Ted’s Last Hurrah 238
29. The Third Strike 245
Sporting Editor’s Notes 253
Chapter Notes 257
Bibliography 269
Index 273

Book Reviews & Awards

“Well researched and an engaging read.”—SABR Deadball Era Committee Newsletter