Herb Crehan: Happy birthday Frank! Are there day-long festivities planned for you on Kauai today?
Frank Sullivan: Well, other than the island folks being so disappointed that I will still be around, I intend to dodge the rest of the birthday stuff. How the hell am I going to blow out 83 candles?
Herb Crehan: What do you do to stay in shape at age 83?
Frank Sullivan: During summer I swim at the pool at the YMCA. That is if the unheated pool is above 80 degrees. It is not with out some negatives. I have been told the life guards call my swimming a near drowning and I resent the fact they place starting blocks and a float at the end of my lane.
When swimming is out I sometimes go into the weight room with all the machines and learn how to count to ten again. How much more boring can it get?
Herb Crehan: Anything else?
Frank Sullivan: Then there is my sidewalk rocket. What is a sidewalk rocket you ask? It is an adult tricycle which hopefully takes the falling off out of the equation. So far it has and to my delight all the local people steering clear of me seem to like it a great deal because they all wave when I zip by. I just wish they would use more fingers when they do.
Herb Crehan: The recent biography on Mickey Mantle referred to you as “the late Frank Sullivan.” Did that cause any consternation among your old friends?
Frank Sullivan: Only my wife was upset. Some of my friends snapped their fingers on hearing I was still treading water and said, “Damn! Why drag this thing on?” I’m talking about the few friends I have that can read. And I was shocked when Jayne Leavy (author) called me in person to apologize and I told her not to sweat it because she was may be only a couple of years wrong.
Editor’s Note: To read a wonderful story by Jane Leavy, author of The Last Boy, describing how she unintentionally “killed” Frank Sullivan, follow this link: www.sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1196279/index.htm
Herb Crehan: Switching topics, in 1955 when you won 18 you pitched 16 complete games for the Red Sox. Did anyone mention your pitch count around the seventh or eighth inning of those complete games?
Frank Sullivan: Absolutely not. Pitch count is a modern baseball item tied, I am told, to the money being paid so as not to ruin an investment.
Secretly, I want to scream that winning games for the fans is the most important thing a club can do and if it is at the risk of an arm so be it. There will always be more strong arms coming if they are allowed to throw until exhausted. This will slowly build strength and make them more aware of using the space between their ears to be aware of what is going on around them.
Herb Crehan: Does it annoy you when Don and Jerry start referring to the pitch count in the second or third inning?
Frank Sullivan: Not really, as I am a fan of baseball and want it to flourish, and if pitch count is something of importance to the game, I am all for it. But when I played there was always the threat that someone would take my place if I didn’t go nine.
And believe me. There is nothing like going nine and winning on the biggest stage in sports. NOTHING!!!!!
Herb Crehan: How important is it for the pitcher to feel comfortable with, and in synch with his catcher?
Frank Sullivan: It was everything to me. I was never as good with any catcher other than Sam White. We were best pals. We were roommates a great deal of the time we spent with the Red Sox. But to really answer your question I will tell you that Sam could catch a bullet or a butterfly even if he didn’t know which what was coming. Many times he just told me to throw what I wanted at the moment.
Herb Crehan: Who was the best pitching coach you ever had in the major leagues, and how did he help you?
Frank Sullivan: Boo Ferris for a lot of reasons. He never tried to change me. He never said anything to me that let doubt rear its ugly head. And he is to this day, what every man on the planet should be about and act like.
Herb Crehan: Any more words of wisdom on your 83rd birthday?
Frank Sullivan: I can only hope all the people reading this stuff can live this long and be so blessed with a liver like mine.
Hey! I’m in for my 84th year on this earth with my bride at my side. Is this a great country or what?!