|ESPN Network: ESPN.com | NBA.com | NHL.com | WNBA.com | ABCSports | EXPN | INSIDER | FANTASY|
Thursday, February 13, 2003
Sullivan, one-of-a-kind Red Sox, dies of stroke
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Haywood Sullivan, the only person to serve as an owner, general manager and player for the Boston Red Sox, died at 72.
Sullivan died in Fort Myers on Wednesday after a stroke, team spokesman Kevin Shea said. Sullivan was a real estate developer in Fort Myers, where the Red Sox hold spring training.
Two days before the team opens spring training, Sullivan was brought to Lee Memorial Hospital in Fort Myers, the hospital said.
Baseball commissioner Bud Selig called Sullivan "a very decent and good person." Red Sox president Larry Lucchino said he was "a great and noble man."
John Harrington, a team owner until last Feb. 27, remembered that Sullivan was a favorite of the club's late owners, Tom and Jean Yawkey, and said, "I truly believe that they are having a great reunion right now."
Longtime fans have less pleasant recollections of how Sullivan neglected to mail a contract to Carlton Fisk by the deadline in 1980, allowing him to become a free agent. The catcher signed with the Chicago White Sox, where he played 13 years of a Hall of Fame career.
Fisk retired in 1993, the same year Sullivan's ownership share was bought out after he served as a co-owner of the Red Sox since 1978. Sullivan also was general manager from 1978 to 1983.
The Red Sox moved spring training from Winter Haven to Fort Myers in 1993. Sullivan lived in Naples, about 30 miles south of Fort Myers.
He was a regular presence at local government meetings, and was part of a group that built a downtown hotel and the adjacent Centennial Harbour Marina.
Sullivan also stopped by the Boston baseball fantasy camp in Fort Myers recently, where his son Marc, a Fort Myers resident and former Red Sox catcher, was a coach.
Former Red Sox pitcher Bill Lee, who was traded by Sullivan to Montreal in 1979, saw him there.
"I had patched up most of my differences with him," Lee said Wednesday from his Craftsbury, Vt. home. "We kind of shook hands through the fence. ... He was as big as ever. He was in fine shape."
Sullivan was a catcher and quarterback at the University of Florida.
"He was very good to me," Ralph Houk, who managed the Red Sox from 1981 through 1984, said from his home in Winter Haven. "He was a great man any way you look at it. The only thing he wanted was to win."
Selig said he and his wife, Sue, were "deeply saddened" by the passing of "a dear friend and one of the great baseball executives of our generation."
"Personally, I have only the greatest respect and fondness for Haywood," Harrington said. "We worked closely together for so many years and he became a dear friend. "
Lucchino said Sullivan "was an instrumental and guiding force during many of the most memorable seasons in the history of this franchise."
After Tom Yawkey's death in 1976, Sullivan joined his widow, Jean R. Yawkey, as an owner.
The Fisk issue was one of several memorable, if unsatisfying, moments in his tenure that included one trip to the World Series, in 1986, a loss in seven games to the New York Mets.
His first season as an owner ended in a one-game playoff loss to the New York Yankees in which light-hitting Bucky Dent hit a popup for a homer over the left-field wall.
In 1983, Sullivan watched an attempted coup by fellow owner Buddy LeRoux, who said on Tony Conigliaro Night at Fenway Park that he had seized control of the team from Sullivan and Jean Yawkey.
LeRoux's first act was to try to fire Sullivan and replace him with Dick O'Connell, a move that landed them in court. Sullivan finished the 1983 season as GM, then served as chief executive officer and chief operating officer.
The Jean R. Yawkey Trust bought out Sullivan's share of the club in 1993.
As a player, the Donalsonville, Ga., native signed with the Red Sox in 1952. In 312 major league games, he hit .226 with 13 homers and 87 RBI. In 1965, he managed the Kansas City Athletics for most of the season in which they finished in last place. His record was 54-82.
He is survived by sons Marc and Kyle; a daughter, Sharon; his wife, Patricia, and 10 grandchildren.
Funeral arrangements were not immediately known.
Send this story to a friend | Most sent stories