Billy Sullivan (sullibi04)

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William Joseph Sullivan Jr.

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Biographical Information[edit]

The son of Billy Sullivan Sr., catcher Billy Sullivan was a Navy lieutenant during World War II.

Sullivan Sr. was a terrible hitter who had a long career as a catcher in the dead-ball era, while Sullivan Jr. was a much better hitter who had a 12-year career which would have been longer if not for World War II. He played a lot of catcher, but also appeared frequently at first base, third base, and sometimes in the outfield.

Sullivan Jr. went to a private college prep school in Portland, OR, Columbia Prep, in 1928 and 1929, where he was able to earn a year's worth of college credits before enrolling at the University of Notre Dame where he earned both an undergraduate and a law degree, although he never practiced law.

He broke into the majors in 1931 with 92 games for the Chicago White Sox. He was the youngest player on the team, and was the regular third baseman. He was originally an infielder, playing hardly any catcher until 1936. His only year in the minors was in 1934, when he batted .343 with 17 HR and 93 RBI for the Milwaukee Brewers; he was in the top 10 in the American Association in average and just missed the top 10 in homers.

After hitting .316 in his second season in the big leagues, 1932, he slumped to .192 in his third year and found himself in the American Association in 1934. He came back up to the Cincinnati Reds in 1935, and hit .266, one point above their .265 team average. He was then purchased by the Cleveland Indians, who made him their regular catcher.

Oddly enough, it was in his first year as a catcher in 1936 that he made a hitting breakthrough, hitting .351 with a .508 slugging percentage.

Billy spent two years with the Indians, two years with the St. Louis Browns, and then two years with the Detroit Tigers. He had one year with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1942 before being away from the majors till 1947 when he returned as a pinch-hitter and backup catcher with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Billy was a good contact hitter, striking out less than 5% of the time.

His only appearance in postseason play was in the 1940 World Series, when he alternated with Birdie Tebbetts at catcher for the Tigers and batted eighth in the order. He also played for the 1942 Brooklyn Dodgers who won 104 games, but they finished 2 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals that year.

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