Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Wild About Harry

It isn’t often, in researching family history, when we run into famous—or even noteworthy—individuals whom we can call relatives. When I run across such possibilities, my first reaction is to dismiss such a notion.

In chasing down the children of our Kelly descendant Julia Creahan Sullivan, that is exactly what I thought to do when I encountered story after story about a well-liked local semi-professional athlete named Harry Sullivan. I thought surely this wasn’t our Harry.

Just in case, though—it’s hard to walk away from potential resources right at hand, only to find later that they shouldn’t have been discarded—I dutifully transcribed the many articles mentioning this Harry Sullivan’s name. One never knows.

The first mention I found about this Harry Sullivan came up in the January 12, 1913, edition of Denver’s Rocky Mountain News. It was explaining the unusual organization of this man’s sports team. This would be only the first of many commentaries on his athletic ability.
            Harry Sullivan, the popular Five Points athlete, is rounding his men into tip-top shape. “Sully” has a club at 507 Twenty-third street, which is open the year round, and nearly twenty-five boys are working under his direction.
            The Independents, as they are known, don’t make a specialty of any one sport. They go in for all of them. Basketball, soccer, baseball, football, boxing and wrestling are all hobbies of the Five Pointers, and they have an organization which is doing much to develop the boys living in that district.

A little over a year later, Harry popped up again in the Denver Post:
            With the signing of Harry Sullivan, the widely-known short stop the Page Hotel team now have one of the strongest lineups in the city and the bunch of sluggers on that team are bound to dismay many a pitcher around Denver before the season is over.

At the beginning of 1915, Harry Sullivan seemed to be of enough interest to Denver sports fans that even his personal health became part of the public record. Both the Post and the Rocky Mountain News carried stories on January 29. Here’s the take from the Rocky Mountain News:
Harry Sullivan, one of the best known members of the semi-professional baseball circles of the city, as well as one of the most popular, is in St. Luke’s hospital, where he underwent a minor operation Wednesday morning. He is resting well and at his present rate of improvement will be out shortly.

He seemed to have recovered well from his health ailment, for on June 17 of that year, the Rocky Mountain News noted:
Harry Sullivan, the most popular player of the Cottrells, is certainly playing the game of his life, hitting good and running bases great.

The next season, he was back in the newspapers again, with such positive press as “the all-around playing of Harry Sullivan, who lifted out three timely hits and made several great catches at the short field.”

Whether this was the son of the Julia Creahan Sullivan I am seeking, I couldn’t yet tell. There were, after all, some other entries about this Harry Sullivan that made me wonder. Maybe there was more than one Harry Sullivan being mentioned in the Denver newspapers.


  1. For all your perseverance, you deserve a little reward. I hope this is YOUR Harry Sullivan and that you won't have to walk away still scratching your head.

    1. Thank you, Wendy. I wouldn't want to wear a hole in the side of my head ;)

  2. Replies
    1. Oh, I do too, Far Side--and I'm hoping for enough solid confirmation to eliminate all these doubts!

  3. Given yesterdays post - what you discovered in your hunt for the "right" Harry was an ample reward in and of itself!

    Still, I hope you find the "right" one!!

    1. I'm amazed at some of the stories that have popped up--who knows, maybe that's what would happen to each of us if we Googled our names nowadays--but just wish there would be one news story that tied the whole package together conclusively!


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