Sometimes when I'm researching a player's background, all I can come up with is a name, a date and a few statistics. Other times, I come away with a treasure trove of information. In the case of Billy Sullivan Jr., I hit the mother lode.
I found scans of photographs, letters and other documents that gave me a rounded picture of who exactly he was, during the time he played ball. Players who patrolled the ball fields years before most of us were born are more than just a name and a few lines of stats. They were living and breathing people, who had lives outside the park. They had the same flaws and faults that we do. The same aspirations to achieve ran through their blood as well.
I'd like to share a few scans that I ran across. Here's is Billy with his Pierce Arrow automobile inside Comiskey Park.
Originally this was going to be the photo that graced WSC Vintage card #24. While this is a very cool photo, I deemed it unusable for the card set's purposes. When the scan was blown up to focus on Billy, the resolution was absolutely terrible. The whole idea about the card set is to see faces and to get a better understanding that these players were no different than the men we see on the field today. The face was unrecognizable when blown up to an appropriate size for card framing.
I only use photos with the player this far away, if there is no other photograph that shows better detail. There were a few other pictures that gave more detail, so I ended up using another shot. Still, I had to share the photo find. It's just too cool to keep to myself.
I also found scans of several correspondence between Billy and various clubs. Several involved the White Sox. Here is a scan of one letter that caught my eye. It shows off the recruiting style of the Old Roman, along with a genuine interest in how Billy's father, a former employee (player) of Comiskey, was getting along.
In this final scan, I chose a card from several White Sox players and the manager.
It's a bit difficult to pinpoint when this card was signed. Jack Rothrock was only on the White Sox in the latter part of 1932. Luke Sewell didn't join the Sox until 1935. Johnny Kerr was gone from the White Sox after 1931. Zeke Bonura started with the Sox in 1934. Lew Fonseca was out as manager early in the 1933 season.
Most, if not all, would have crossed Billy's path at some point. It's an interesting mix of players on one card with a White Sox logo. For these scans and more, check out this page. Be sure to look at the second and third pages for a more in depth look at the personal papers of Billy Sullivan Jr. It's a fascinating look into the life of a player from the thirties and forties.