Frank Sullivan, a two-time All-Star and a Red Sox Hall of Famer, passed away yesterday in Lihue, HI due to complications from pneumonia at 85 years old. He was four days shy of his 86th birthday.
One of the Red Sox players immortalized in Norman Rockwell's iconic 1957 painting, The Rookie, Sullivan had a 90-80 record and 3.47 ERA in eight seasons for Boston from 1953-60. Over his first five years in the Red Sox rotation from 1954-58, the right-hander was one of the top American League pitchers, ranking second with 153 starts, third with a 3.13 ERA, and fourth with 74 wins.
He led the team in ERA in four straight seasons from 1954-57, one of only five Red Sox pitchers ever to accomplish the feat. The others are Roger Clemens (7 seasons, 1986-92), Mel Parnell (5 seasons, 1948-52), Lefty Grove (5 seasons, 1935-39), and Cy Young (5 seasons, 1901-05). In 1955, 1956, and 1958, he served as Boston's Opening Day starting pitcher.
Sullivan was inducted into the Red Sox Hall of Fame in 2008, 60 years after originally signing with the team in 1948. Following a two-year stint in the Army during the Korean War in 1951 and 1952, he rose from Single-A Albany to the Red Sox bullpen by mid-1953 for his big league debut. A year later, the 24-year-old rookie joined the rotation and was credited with a team-best 15 of Boston's 69 victories.
The 1955 season saw Sullivan go 18-13 with a 2.91 ERA and earn his first All-Star selection. He led the American League in wins (tied), innings (260.0), and starts (35) while ranking fifth in ERA. His 1956 season featured a second straight trip to the All-Star Game, and in 1957 he led the majors in WHIP (1.06) and again placed fifth in the AL with a 2.73 ERA.
Traded to the Philadelphia Phillies after the 1960 season, Sullivan left the Red Sox ranked fifth among pitchers in team history with 201 starts. His final stop was with the Minnesota Twins from mid-1962 to 1963, where he pitched under manager Sam Mele, a Red Sox teammate from 1954-55.
Born in Hollywood, CA and raised in nearby Burbank, Sullivan spent the last half-century living on Kauai, a Hawaiian island, and served as director of golf for a number of courses. His book, Life is More than 9 Innings: Memories of a Boston Red Sox Pitcher, was published in 2009 and contains a series of autobiographical short stories. He last visited Fenway Park in 2014.
Sullivan is survived by his wife Marilyn, son Mike, daughter-in-law Leihina, grandson Kapono, and granddaughter Kea, as well as his son Mark, and granddaughters Summer and Lauren.