Frank Sullivan won 90 games for the Red Sox from 1953 to 1960 and he is a member of the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame. Frank has lived on Kauai in the Hawaiian Islands for 50 years.
Sam from Gloucester: What was the toughest type of hitter you faced?
Frank Sullivan: I hated hitters that allowed me to provide the power to hit a ball hard. The hated ones just tried to put the meat of the bat on the ball and let the rest take care of itself.
Sam from Gloucester: And what was the easiest type of hitter to pitch to?
Frank Sullivan: I wanted the guys up there swinging from their asses to make the ball go farther. I could change speed or a host of other stuff to make their effort fail and look bad doing it.
Ted from Sandwich: When you got to the dog days of August and you had made 25+ starts did you feel like you were running out of gas?
Frank Sullivan: August was tough if the temperature was still sweltering. But come the first slight chill in the air it was like being re-born. It was like a signal saying,” pitchers are back in control.”
Mary from Medford: I love the 2013 Red Sox. Do you think we will win the World Series?
Frank Sullivan: Mary, Mary, Mary! We have to get there first.
Ben from Sudbury: You don’t hear much about bench jockeys any more—what did the opposing teams used to yell at you?
Frank Sullivan: You name it and they said it. Some of it was really good stuff actually and I found it a lot of fun. I wasn’t bad at it myself.
And then remember, if a guy was on me pretty good and was playing, I would have the chance to see if he could hit lying down and he knew that.
It was the coaches I had a problem with because they were the worst and thought there was no way for me to get back at them. But one day in Cleveland when having a 7-run lead I hit their first base coach square in the back.
He had turned his back to me to watch his runner. I did it with a good fastball that people thought was thrown to try and keep the runner close. I then looked over at the third base coach and yelled he was next if he said one more word about my mother!
Carl in Hanover, NH: What was it like to pitch in front of 50,000 fans in Yankee Stadium? Do the players hear what the fans are yelling at them?
Frank Sullivan: I always felt the more fans the easier it is to pitch. I thought it was an award for me to have more people show up when I took the mound.
As a player you are schooled in the minor leagues that having “rabbit ears” is a distraction you can’t let happen if you want to be a major league player.
I say that in the face of the fact that Ted Williams listened and in fact let it bother him what a lone voice might express. It was a real problem within the team concept because a team can’t let a lone voice ruin the effort to win the game. All of a sudden we had to worry about what a fan yelled?
Trip from Block Island, RI: You hear a lot about which catchers do the best jobs handling pitchers—what did you look for in a catcher?
Frank Sullivan: Sammy White [Red Sox: 1951-1959] was all I ever needed.
George from Quincy: Which 2013 Red Sox pitcher do you enjoy watching the most? And is there a pitcher you enjoy least?
Frank Sullivan: That’s a loaded question George. No matter what I say it could be questioned.
But let me say this, I hate pitchers who are afraid of throwing strikes. I still believe a major league pitcher has to have the mind set that, “I can throw any of my stuff for strikes and they can’t hit it.” And then do it and find out.
My thinking was, give me the ball and I will do the very best I can no matter how I felt, and when you can’t stand what I am doing take me out. I feel I can say that because of my 90 wins with the Red Sox and my 73 complete games.
Walking a hitter is the worst thing a pitcher can do.
Hank from Norwich, CT: How did you do pitching against the Yankees’ Mickey Mantle?
Frank Sullivan: Hey Hank! I won big time! I’m still alive and that wonderful player isn’t.
I struck him out the first three at bats and here are the stats —
[Note: Frank Sullivan dominated Mantle in his first 15 at-bats, holding him to a .133 batting average, and in his last 15 at-bats against Frank, Mantle batted only .200; in the 30 at-bats in between, Mantle handled Sullivan the same way he handled all American League pitchers, going 14-30 with four home runs.]
Helen from Worcester: Who was the toughest hitter you ever pitched to?
Frank Sullivan: It is not easy for me to report that Vic Wertz when playing for Cleveland was the man.
It is hard because we became teammates and I found him to be a real gentleman. Hard to stay mad at someone you respect.
Al in Revere: I was looking at your record and your fielding percentage and range factor rank among the best pitchers in MLB history—what made you such a good fielder?
Frank Sullivan: All of the managers I played for hated my playing third base in batting practice. I did it because it was fun (there are no errors in batting practice), it helped my fielding, and it had all my attention during the boredom of waiting three days to pitch again.
Jim in Hopkinton: You made two American League All-Star teams; how great was it to be included with all the great players and future Hall of Famer players?
Frank Sullivan: I am aware that memories, trophies, plaques and awards are all hard to eat, but just being there is food for the soul.
Frank Sullivan invites you to submit your questions in the comments box below.