On April 16, 1974, when I was 10 years old, Tom Sullivan, the star running back of the Philadelphia Eagles of the National Football league, sent me a postcard:
Best wishes and glad to hear from you.
Tom Sullivan #25
My neighbor and I had discovered that you could find a list of NFL teams and write somewhat generic fan letters to them and get stickers, photos, team photos and schedules back in the mail.
I unearthed a box of these recently from the attic.
Also, that friend and I re-united after about 30 years and went to The Big Game, a Giants game and a memorial service. His nephew is in a rock band with a song on the radio. His cousin is a developer working on transit oriented housing.
I didn’t realize Tom Sullivan had passed until I looked up his records on wiki.
The worst letter I wrote went unanswered. I wrote to Jack Lambert of the Steelers and said I admired his “sado-masochistic” style. I’m not sure I knew what “sado-masochistic” meant (even today). I remember once playing tackle football in the grass field of Fremont Hills Tennis Club in Los Altos Hills and hitting a boy one year younger Joel Davis so hard that it took him a minute or two to catch his breath. But my mom wouldn’t let me play tackle football at Gunn and sent me to Dick Gould tennis camp at Stanford that same week, instead. (Although I never lettered in tennis: I played three matches not four for Gunn JV, bonking of the crucial fourth attempt because senior spring I rode a Greyhound bus to Corvallis with a friend to scout out that school and came back Monday in time for the match but not my classes, and coach Bow, rightly, held me out.)
Thank you, belatedly Tom Sullivan.
and1: I bought tickets to Denver Broncos and 49ers. I’ve been to all five Niners games this year, after boycotting for several seasons (I miss the Stick). I’m going December 9 because a kid who went to my Bar Mitzvah, Chris Strausser, is an offensive line coach for the visitors. Maybe I will invite if not TMW the kid from next door in 1974.
and and: the same year that my parents nixed my football career, my dad’s business was a sponsor of Stanford football and they sat next to George Seifert at a banquet and he said that unless I had a killer instinct I should not play football. Thanks, George. Yeah you right.
sic transit gloria
Tom Sullivan was born in Florida and died in South Carolina, in 2002, in a car accident. He was 52, younger than I am now. He was drafted out of Miami Hurricanes in the 15th round but made the team in The City of Brotherly Love. He scored 22 touchdowns rushing and receiving in 84 NFL games including a career high 11 tds rushing the year he and I corresponded.