Here is Jimmy Sullivan.
His curve is a beauty,
His fast ball has the hop,
And his control is so good
He may land on the top.
George MacKay describing Jim Sullivan in The Philadelphia Inquirer, March 21, 1922.
Sullivan pitching with the Philadelphia Athletics, 1922.
Jim Sullivan’s story is that of a 1920s-era right-hander who never could figure out how to control his fastball. (George MacKay’s rhyme was really just wishful thinking). It’s also a tale of three cities. And, a story about a cow wearing a Christmas hat.
(If the promise of a cow wearing a Christmas hat doesn’t keep you reading, then, clearly, you’re not the person I thought you were.)
Jim Sullivan was born in Mine Run, Virginia in 1894.
The Sullivan family didn’t settle forever in Mine Run. By the late ‘teens, Sullivan is playing professionally and his family is in North Carolina. Later, he spends an off-season with his father in Kentucky.
Sullivan’s big league career is rather brief.
He played parts of the 1921 and ‘22 seasons with the Philadelphia Athletics and two games with the Cleveland Indians in 1923.
Sullivan, with the Indians (briefly) in 1923.
Twenty-five big league games total, 73.1 innings pitched (all but five with the A’s), an 0-5 record, a 5.52 ERA, and a reputation for wildness.
(Keep reading. I promise … Christmas Cow is on the way …)