Interview with Frank

Herb: Frank Sullivan broke in with the Boston Red Sox in 1953. Frank, how has the game changed in the sixty years since you were a rookie?

Frank: In the early 1950’s when only the pitcher and catcher brought their gloves into the dugout after the inning was over (the rest just threw them aside on the field) there were no helmets, gloves or body armor. Hitters were aware that standing too close to the plate was unacceptable and if they did the pitcher might decide to see if the hitter could hit lying down.
Same if the hitter started digging his back foot in when he stepped up to bat.

Herb: What about rule changes and how starting pitchers are used?
Frank: Maybe the biggest and most damaging rule change for pitchers was the lowering of the mound. Pitch counts were unheard of and relief pitchers were never brought into a game unless the starter was in big trouble.

Herb: How about life in the clubhouse?
Frank: There was never free food in the clubhouse and if you had a beer or soda after the game you were charged for it. Players had to buy their gloves, shoes, inner socks, jock straps and protectors, and whatever shirts they wanted to wear under the outside uniform.

Herb: And there wasn’t the fraternizing or glad-handing the other team?
Frank: Since teams rarely traded players there was very little talking or smiling at the hated enemy and the umpires would sit in the stands during batting practice to make sure there was no one doing it.

Herb: And what was travel from city-to-city like back in the day?
Frank: Back then there were no teams in the west and all the travel was by train and it was simply wonderful. Almost always the getaway game would be played in the day and there was a day off after arriving in the new city.
The Red Sox commanded three Pullmans because we had so many writers with us.
Most teams only had two. At any rate, say you were on a road trip and were playing the Philadelphia Athletics in a get away day game and the next series was in Detroit. After the game there was time to go out and get a good dinner and then depending on how you felt you could go to the train station and board your Pullman that might not be hooked up to the train yet and was sitting on a siding. Or you could have a couple of “pops” with the boys and get on the train when it was pulled into the station and ready for departure. But don’t miss the train!!! There was a fine to face if you didn’t get to the next city on time.
Ah, but once on the train there was a bed waiting in your own roomette or stateroom. A sleeping pill from the trainer and you might not even feel the
train start to move.

Article written by

Herb Crehan is in his 21st season as a contributing writer for Red Sox Magazine, the team's official program. He is the author of two books on Red Sox history and he has contributed to five other books. He speaks frequently on Boston baseball history and he is the Editor of www.bostonbaseballhistory.com.

One Response

  1. Lydia Herlihy
    Lydia Herlihy February 4, 2013 at 10:03 pm | | Reply

    Enjoyed the interview..and makes me long for the good ole days when baseball was played for the love of the game. Laughed when I read that players paid for refreshments and such. Can you imagine!!!

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