William Joseph “Billy” Sullivan Sr.
Born: February 1, 1875 - Oakland, WI
Died: January 28, 1965 - Newberg, OR
Career BA: .213
Managerial Record: 78–74
Boston Braves NL (1899–1900)
Chicago White Sox AL (1901–1914; player/manager: 1909)
Detroit Tigers AL (1916)
Billy Sullivan is statistically among the worst-hitting catchers in major league history. With Sullivan behind the plate, however, the White Sox won two pennants and very nearly two more, and never finished lower than fourth between 1901 and 1911. In 1903 and 1910, the 2 years in his prime that he played fewer than 89 games due to injury, the White Sox played sub-.500 ball and finished seventh and sixth. Ty Cobb called Sullivan “the best catcher ever to wear shoe leather.” The first player to catch 1,000 games, Sullivan was the patent holder on the first inflatable chest protector for catchers. After his tour with the Tigers, Sullivan retired to his apple and nut farm in Newberg, Oregon. When his son Billy Jr. caught in the 1940 World Series, it was the first time in MLB history that a father and son had both competed in the Fall Classic.
– Tom and Ellen Zappala, The T206 Collection: The Players and Their Stories