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America Bought His Blarney by the Barrel

In his day, perhaps no one in American baseball was better known than Irish-born Timothy Paul “Ted” Sullivan. For 50 years, sportswriters sang his praises and bought his blarney by the barrel.  Damon Runyon dubbed him “The Barnacle of Baseball.”
Sullivan cut his baseball molars in the old “dead ball” era, when the rubber-cored sphere was squishy and lopsided. When pitchers rubbed dirt, licorice, spittle, and tobacco juice into the ball to make it nearly invisible to the batter. When ballfields were often converted farm pastures still pocked with rocks and cow patties. When whiskey, beer and other “anti-fogmatics” were sold freely in the stands.

Cunning, fast-talking, witty, charming, serious and sober, Sullivan was the game’s first player agent, a renowned scout who pulled future hall of famers from the bushes, an author, a playwright and a baseball evangelist who promoted the game across five continents. He coined the term “fan” and was among the first to suggest the designated hitter, yet he firmly upheld baseball’s Jim Crow color line.

Co-authors Pat O’Neill and Tom Coffman unearthed thousands of contemporaneous newspaper accounts to create this first exhaustive biography of “Hustlin’” Ted Sullivan, arguably the one of the greatest hucksters in the history of the game.


Ted Sullivan, Barnacle of Baseball – McFarland (mcfarlandbooks.com)