William Joseph “Billy” Sullivan, Sr. (1875-1965) was one of the great defensive catchers during the Deadball Era – a period in the early 1900s when bunts and speed dominated the offense – and was among the top three American League catchers in fielding percentage eight times during his 16-year career including three times atop the list (1906, 1908, 1911). Billy joined the reigning National League champion Boston Beaneaters in 1899 playing 22 games that year before platooning with Boileryard Clarke for the 1900 season. When the new American League was launched in 1901, Billy left Boston (1899-1900) to join the Chicago White Sox, where he would spend the bulk of his career (1901-1912, 1914). Sullivan’s extraordinary defensive ability made up for his virtual ineptitude at the plate, though he did account for two home runs for the 1906 White Sox, dubbed the “Hitless Wonders”, who hit only seven home runs as a team in the regular season. Despite the 1906 White Sox lack of power and hitting ability, they were able to capture the American League pennant – the first in franchise history – and defeat the cross-town Chicago Cubs in the World Series. Billy was among the league leaders in many of the defensive categories throughout his career and he retired with a .976 fielding percentage, 1,322 assists and a 48% caught stealing percentage. At the plate, he added a .213 batting average, 777 hits, 363 runs and 378 RBI in 1,147. He was also the first catcher in Major League history to catch 1,000 games.
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