Longtime Baylor baseball coach Sullivan dies
Mickey came to Baylor as a student-athlete to play both football and baseball. He excelled in baseball and was named first team All America in both his junior and senior seasons. No Baylor player has ever equaled that two time honor. In addition he hit a Southwest Conference record .519 during his 1954 senior year. That mark was never topped in league history.
Following his senior year Sullivan signed to play professional baseball which he did from 1954 through 1957. During 423 professional games he compiled a batting average of .291 with 41 home runs and 91 runs batted in. He played all or parts of four seasons with Dallas in the double A Texas League, but broke in as a pro rookie with Artesia in the Longhorn League. In 91 games he hit .360 with 23 home runs.
Once the playing career ended Mickey returned to Baylor as an assistant coach in both football and baseball. In 1972 he was elevated by head football coach Grant Teaff to recruiting co-ordinator, but Mickey really wanted a team of his own. It wasn't long before Sullivan would begin a twenty one year stretch guiding the Bears baseball fortunes.
When his career ended he had won 649 games against 428 losses. His win total continued to be the most during his lifetime. Current coach Steve Smith will likely surpass his mentor late this year. He trailed by 30 before the season began.
Sullivan's Bears won three Southwest Conference titles and appeared in two College World Series.
Most of Mickey's career was coached in the shadow of Texas and Texas A&M. Not only did they have dominant programs in the old SWC, but had the best facilities by far. Before Sullivan's head coaching career ended things would start to even out. At locations around the league the old chain link fence fields with portable bleachers and no lights were to become history. Mickey Sullivan was a guiding force in getting Baylor up to speed. The Baylor Ballpark is one of the best in college baseball. During the period when the Baylor Ballpark was built new facilities at Rice, Houston, Arkansas, TCU and finally Texas Tech—all members of the SWC during Sullivan's career-- starting planning or building new homes.
As a long time college baseball telecaster I had many occasions to call Mickey's games and talk with him beforehand. It was a joy to talk baseball with him. He was missed when he retired and turned the reins over to one of the best players he ever recruited and coached, Steve Smith. Now he is missed even more.
It is very fitting that his funeral services on Monday will be held at home plate of the Baylor Ballpark. He loved baseball. He loved Baylor. Both also loved him.