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Thursday, September 8, 2011

Former Bosox pitcher's brush with heart surgeon

(Frank Sullivan is a former All Star pitcher for the Boston Red Sox and a friend of Gazette Columnist Noble Collins. He was a teammate of the revered Ted Williams, among others. Frank has an engaging writing style and has experienced far more adventures than baseball alone. In coming weeks it will be a pleasure to share his many ups and downs with Gazette Blog readers.)

Marilyn dropped me off at 10:00AM 4/05/05 at Queens hospital in Honolulu. I searched my way back into its "amazing maze" and somehow found registration again. Took the papers I was given there and went to Cardiac Recovery where the people recognized me and seemed disappointed. Went through the same old thing of taking off all my clothes but this time instead of the, "Oh, you poor thing," it was, "What could you possible use that thing for?" I ignored them.

I loved sitting on a cold chair with my bare butt for an hour waiting for things to get underway. Luckily there was a ball game on TV so I was not bored other than listening to Joe Morgan make the game seem like a presidential decision.

At 11:00 AM the vein intruder came along and found one in the back of my left hand, promptly stuck a needle in it and seemed happy as hell about doing it. While he got the thing all taped and ready for the "IV" connection I asked him, "You like doing this sort of thing for a living?" He looked up and said, "I don’t mind, it’s better than someone sticking me." I couldn’t argue with that.

11:30 and I am wheeled into the operating room by the same people who took me there a week earlier and the jokes were even worse. I mentioned they should get some new material or give up. Their booing me was a waste of their time.

Shortly afterward Dr. Matsumoto strode in and I had to remind him that I expected him to be a little more gentle with his damn hands roaming around my crotch. "Why?" He asked. "Because I don’t want to go out of here with a higher voice." I said. He looked straight at me and said, "I try and keep my hands away from old dead things." He then proceeded with the procedure while all the time keeping up a running conversation with anyone who wanted to listen about anything other than what he was doing. I said, "Hey! Keep your mind on what you’re doing." And he said, "Can it Sullivan or I’ll use an old sewer pipe, instead of the stent, to match what I’m looking at." It was over in a matter of minutes.

Other than I had an ache in my heart that the Dr. explained was from the small vessels having to expand back out to their original size to be able to handle the new volume of blood being delivered, it was pretty damn painless.

After a sleepless night I was visited by Dr. Matsumoto and I told him he ran a damn good concentration camp and if he would let me move I would tell him anything he wanted to know. "What would I do with anything you know?" he asked. He had me there.

I hate backing off insulting people but, in this case, the man knew his business and I am proof of it.

(Editor's note: Frank Sullivan has written a book called "Life is More than 9 Innings - Memories of a Boston Red Sox Pitcher," a unique collection of stories covering a lifetime of memories. Frank's 10-year Major League Baseball career is the source of a fascinating insider’s look at the sport of baseball and some of the legendary players of the ‘50s and ‘60s including Ted Williams, Yogi Berra, Sam White and many more.   As the title implies, there are many more stories to be told including his early years growing up in California, Army service during the Korean War, and 43 years of life in Hawaii on the island of Kauai.

Put together in a very readable short story format, each account stands on its own as a captivating tale told by a master storyteller. Along with its wonderful collection of photographs, the book is a storehouse of memories to be savored and enjoyed by sports fans and casual readers alike.

Frank Sullivan is a Red Sox Hall of Fame pitcher who is now on the way to becoming a Hall of Fame storyteller. This delightful book not only covers his professional career and many of the great players of that era but also has many delightful human interest tales of life away from the playing fields.

"He details the ups and downs of a baseball career at a time when there wasn’t expansion of the leagues and free agency was not a part of baseball terminology. A really enjoyable, fun book for everyone."
— Dick Bresciani, Vice President, Boston Red Sox 

Copies of the book can be ordered directly from Frank autographed or with a salutation for $23, including shipping.  

Order from:
Frank Sullivan
P.O. Box 1873
Lihue, HI 96766

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