Sullivan Put Fun In Baseball Promoter, Who Presented Kiteman, Phillie Phanatic, Dies

Posted: January 19, 1996

Frank Sullivan might be the only ex-Phillie who never had a bad day at the ballpark.

He made people laugh, made them feel good, helped take their minds off games that sometimes were dreadful. He also assured they would be rewarded for showing up early.

Sullivan, 65, died Wednesday of complications from liver disease.

For 23 years, he was the Phillies' director of promotions. He gave you Kiteman, fireworks, camera night, national anthem singers, workouts by Little League teams, Karl Wallenda walking a tightrope from foul line to foul line high above the playing field, giveaways, Benny the Human Bomb . . .

Most of all, he helped to give you the Phillie Phanatic.

It was Sullivan who worked out the details with a national firm to bring the Phanatic into existence in 1978. It was Sullivan who convinced Dave Raymond to climb into the costume.

``Most of all,'' said one of Sullivan's sons, Brian, ``my father turned Phillies baseball from a men-and-some-boys event into a family affair. Even if you were not really a fan, you could go to the ballpark and have fun.''

Frank Sullivan, a Philadelphia native who later moved to Oreland, began working for the Phillies as an office boy at age 14. He worked in tickets, group sales, customer service and the speakers bureau until the Phillies moved from Connie Mack Stadium to Veterans Stadium for the '71 season, when he became the club's first promotions director.

Sullivan was fired by the Phillies in March 1994. He filed a lawsuit last November, alleging he was a victim of age discrimination. The matter, Brian Sullivan said, has not been resolved.

``When I think about my father, it's family things and Phillies things,'' Brian said. ``Really, the two can't be separated. He spent his entire professional life with that organizatiom. Many of those people became like our family.''

Kiteman was the guy who, in his first appearance, crashed into the upper-level centerfield stands after sliding off a ramp.

``He always got razzed about that one,'' Brian said, laughing. ``He got more than his share of comical comments about Wallenda and the guy who blew himself up at second base, too.

``We've heard from a lot of people who told us stories about how my father did something to help them or make them laugh. These next few days will be a rough period, but we're looking forward to talking with more people to hear things we never knew about. That part will be special.''

Survivors also include his wife, Therese; two other sons, John and Kevin; a daughter, Therese Dolan; two brothers, James and H. Burk; and three grandchildren.

Mass of Christian Burial will be held tomorrow, 11 a.m., at Holy Martyrs Church, 120 Allison Road, in Oreland. Burial will be in St. John Neumann Cemetery.

Friends may call 9:30 to 11 Saturday morning at the church.

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