March 22, 2012
WACO, Texas -
Baylor is mourning the loss of coaching legend Mickey Sullivan, who passed away at his Waco home early Thursday morning. Sullivan died at 80 years of age after a long battle with cancer.
Sullivan was a standout football and baseball player at Baylor in the 1950s, and he went on to coach the Bears in both sports. He lettered three seasons in football from 1951-53 and starred on the baseball diamond from 1952-54. Following his playing days, Sullivan worked as an assistant coach for Baylor football and spent 21 seasons leading the Baylor baseball program.
Sullivan remains the only Baylor baseball player to ever be named a first-team All-American in two seasons. He also set the Southwest Conference record with a .519 batting average during his senior season in 1954. He was a consensus All-Southwest Conference selection in all three varsity seasons.
Following his playing career, Sullivan entered the coaching ranks. He joined the Baylor staff in 1969 as the Bears' freshman football coach, and in 1972, Sullivan was promoted to recruiting coordinator by former head coach Grant Teaff. Two years later, Sullivan became Baylor's 16th head baseball coach.
Sullivan led Baylor's baseball program to a 649-428-4 record in 21 seasons as head coach. His 649 coaching victories rank as the most in program history, and he led the Bears to three Southwest Conference Tournament titles and the 1977 and 1978 College World Series. Sullivan was elected to the Baylor Hall of Fame in 1983.
"There are very few people you meet in your life that you always remember the first time you met them," current Baylor baseball head coach Steve Smith said. "I remember very clearly the first time I met Mickey in June of 1980 as a fairly scared kid from Gulfport, Mississippi that 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."
Smith played for Sullivan in 1982 and 1983, and it was Smith who took over as the baseball team's head coach when Sullivan retired in 1994.
"The thing that I grew to appreciate about him, and honestly the longer I've been here the longer I've appreciated it, was his loyalty to Baylor," Smith added. "He loved Baylor. I heard him refer to it as his school. He loved it."
Sullivan's funeral service is set for 11 a.m. Monday at Baylor Ballpark, where his casket will rest at home plate. He is survived by his wife, Marilyn.