Need some winter baseball reading?
Pat O’Neill and Tom Coffman are continuing their saloon book tour for Ted Sullivan: Barnacle of Baseball.
Their story of the early days of baseball includes many Kansas City connections, starting with Ted Sullivan’s college days in the 1870s at St. Mary’s College, a Jesuit institution 90 miles west of Kansas City. One of Ted’s classmates was Charlie Comiskey, and the two of them became instrumental in spreading the word about baseball and building the minor .
In 1898, Sullivan and Al Spink, founder of The Sporting News, invited a group including Charlie Comiskey to a meeting that planted the seed for the formation of the American League. Comiskey became the owner of the Chicago White Sox when the AL commenced business in 1901. Comiskey Park, his namesake stadium, was the home of the White Sox from 1910 to 1990.
Sullivan is said to be the game’s first player agent, a top scout of talent, a baseball evangelist and founder of several leagues. He coined the term “fan” and was among the first to suggest the designated hitter. Damon Runyan dubbed him the “Barnacle of Baseball.”
His friend Al Spink wrote in the Sporting News in 1909, “[Sullivan’s] travel and brisk acquaintance have added to his natural fund of Irish wit and made him delightful as a raconteur. No man in the baseball world can compare with Sullivan as a storyteller.”
And now Pat and Tom have become the storytellers about one of the great characters of early baseball. Quoting Pat on Ted Sullivan…
“This slick-talking son of the auld sod was once so well known in American sporting circles, he was often called “The Daddy of Baseball.” His exploits, achievements, sins and explosions made him one of the most colorful and influential characters in the game for more than 50 years. If you’re a sports fan, a history buff, or simply a lover of good old fashioned storytelling (a.k.a. blarney), Tom and I think you’ll get a kick out of this new book.”
Below, a page from the book about Sullivan’s move from St. Louis in 1884 to manage the Union League’s Kansas City Cowboys.
The headline above the photo may be the first sighting of Ted Lasso, the soccer coach on the popular Apple+ series starring KC’s Jason Sudeikis.
For more excerpts, see the “Look inside” feature for the book on Amazon (click here). Also available on Kindle.