Remembering Mickey Sullivan

July 5, 2012

A lifetime Baylor Bear, Mickey Sullivan, BS '55, passed away March 22 at age 80 after a lengthy battle with cancer.

No player in Southwest Conference history ever topped Sullivan's .519 batting average, set while playing left field for the Bears in 1954, and during his lifetime, no coach in Baylor history (in any sport) recorded more wins than Sullivan's 649 victories, earned as skipper of the baseball program from 1974-95.

"There are very few people you meet in your life that you always remember the first time you met them," said current Baylor baseball head coach Steve Smith, BESD '86. "I remember very clearly the first time I met Mickey in June of 1980 as a fairly scared kid from Gulfport, Mississippi, who was contemplating transferring to Baylor to play baseball. I remember the first time he saw me and the first time I saw him, and I remember exactly what he did, which was put his arm around me. I've honestly felt like Mickey has had his arm around me since then. I felt that way as a player, I felt that way as a former player, and I clearly felt that way as a coach back here. He's had his arm around me since the day he met me."

A standout football and baseball player at Baylor in the 1950s, Sullivan was a first-team All-America outfielder in 1953 and 1954, then returned to Baylor in 1969 as the Bears' freshman football coach. Grant Teaff promoted Sullivan to recruiting coordinator for football in 1972, and Sullivan was involved in helping sign some of the key players on BU's 1974 Cotton Bowl team, including All-SWC RB Steve Beaird, LB Derrel Luce and QB Neal Jeffrey.

Two years later, Sullivan took the reins of his own team as head baseball coach. He led the Bears to back-to-back College World Series appearances in 1977-78 and retired with a career .603 winning percentage, 10th best in SWC history. In the past 50 years, the Baylor baseball program has had only three head coaches (all BU alums): Dutch Schroeder, BS '49, 1962-73; Sullivan, 1974-94; and Smith, 1995-present.

Sullivan led Baylor's baseball program to a 649-428-4 record in 21 seasons as head coach. His 649 coaching victories ranked as the most in Baylor history until Smith, his successor, broke the record in April, three weeks after Sullivan passed.

Sullivan's oral memoirs are recorded and transcribed in Baylor's Institute of Oral History. He was elected to the Baylor Hall of Fame in 1983 and retired in 1994. Sullivan is survived by his wife, Marilyn. Funeral services were held at Baylor Ballpark.

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