By Christian Boone @ The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
His was not the only paunch among the fraternity of retired Braves who gathered at Turner Field for this past weekend’s annual alumni reunion.
But still, the middle-aged man claiming to be former player John Sullivan “definitely did not look like he ever played the game,” said Craig Skok, a reliever for the Braves from 1978-79. “He was very much out of shape.”
Sullivan’s bona fides were further challenged during Saturday’s alumni softball game. Watching him warm up, Andy Ashby, a starting pitcher for the Braves in 2000, remarked, “Dude, you’ve really gone downhill fast.”
“We figured he must’ve had some health problems,” said former Braves reliever Jose Alvarez (’81-’82, ‘88-’89), who estimated Sullivan’s bat speed at “no more than 30 mph.”
It turns out Sullivan, wearing uniform No. 8, was never a Brave. The organization declined comment, but those present at alumni weekend told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution it appears the man received an invitation intended for former Braves bullpen coach John Sullivan, who spent two years in Atlanta before following Bobby Cox to Toronto in 1982.
“I knew he wasn’t coming,” said the longtime Braves manager of his former coach.
Cox, who, according to Alvarez, never forgets those who played under him, said he was embarrassed he didn’t know the mystery man.
Finally, he asked Greg McMichael, the retired Braves reliever who now serves as the team’s liaison to alumni, “Who is this guy?” McMichael told him it was John Sullivan. “I said, ‘That’s not John Sullivan. I think you’ve been had,'” Cox told the AJC.
McMichael could not be reached for comment.
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