Jon Teitel's "Forgotten Legends" Series: Mount St. Mary's Jack Sullivan

    
May 17th, 2011
In the latest installment in his "Forgotten Legends" interview series CHN writer Jon Teitel spent some time discussing the career of the late Jack Sullivan with his college coach, Mount St. Mary's legend Jim Phelan. Without the benefit of the three-point shot Sullivan scored more than 2,600 points and remains the school's all-time leading scorer while also grabbing more than 1,200 rebounds.

Jon Teitel: Why did Sullivan decide to attend Mount St. Mary's? 

Jim Phelan: His family was from Massachusetts and was friends of the Kennedy's. Jack Kennedy was a regular at their house for dinner!  My first year here was Jack's second year here as we were both newcomers to the area. 

JT: In 1957 your team made the Division II Final Four before losing to Kentucky Wesleyan and Sullivan set a tournament record that still stands by scoring 185 points in five games (37 PPG). How was he able to play his best when it mattered the most, and how close did you come to winning it all? 

JP: We had a great year, beating Villanova in the Palestra, Georgetown, etc.  Jack was the greatest scorer we ever had; he could make hook shots from all over the court.  There has never been anyone who could shoot like Jack.  I was fresh out of the Marine Corps and told him that those shots would never go in during a game, and he would just say "Yes sir"...and then make them in the game! 

JT: He was named an All-American as a senior. What did it mean to him to win such an outstanding individual honor?  

JP: He was a very low-key person, but I am sure he was excited about that.  He later set a bunch of Marine Corps scoring records, and was a leading scorer at every other place he played.  He was a joy to coach, as he did everything that I asked. 

JT: He remains the school's all-time leading scorer. Could you tell at the time how prolific a player he was, and do you think that anyone will ever break his record? 

JP: Nobody will break his record: he would have scored 4,000 points if there had been a three-point line back then!  Back then Jack played most of the game, but coaching styles are different today, as they keep running players in and out. 

JT: In the summer of 1957 he was drafted in the second round by Philadelphia (six spots behind Sam Jones), but ended up following in your footsteps and becoming a Marine instead. Why did he decide to join the Marines, and do you think he could have made it as an NBA player? 

JP: He went to camp with Philly, but they did not give him a fair shake as they had another decent player.  I think that he could have made it in the NBA because he was such a great scorer.  He grew up in D.C. working out with Elgin Baylor, but they never played against each other in official games due to school segregation. 

JT: Jack's granddaughter Brigid McTavish currently plays lacrosse at Mount St. Mary's. Do you think that she has any added pressure due to having such a legendary grandfather? 

JP: Jack's grandson Ryan McTavish was also a great high school scorer who signed with Presbyterian.  It helps that Ryan and Brigid's last names are not Sullivan, so people do not know about their grandfather off the top of their head. 

JT: Sullivan passed away in 2010. When people look back on his career, how do you think he should be remembered the most? 

JP: He should be remembered as the best scorer in school history.  I have been coaching for a long time, and I think that Jack could score 30-40 points per game even today with his jump shots and leaping ability. 
 
Sullivan is on Jon's list of best fantasy players in NEC history.

Central Connecticut State: Rich Leonard (1984) 1697 PTS (#3), 1001 REB (#5), 329 AST (#5), 256 STL (#2)
Fairleigh Dickinson: Desi Wilson (1991) 1902 PTS (#1), 780 REB (#5), 176 STL (#2), conference POY
Long Island: Robert Cole (1983) 1800 PTS (#2), 610 AST (#1), 274 STL (#1)
Monmouth: Ron Kornegay (1969) 2526 PTS (#1), 2-time All-American
Mount St. Mary's: Jack Sullivan (1957) 2672 PTS (#1), 1216 REB (#3)
Quinnipiac: Frank Vieira (1957) 2649 PTS (#1)
Robert Morris: Jeremy Chappell (2009) 1875 PTS (#3), 681 REB (#4), 266 STL (#4), 243 3PM (#1), conference POY
Sacred Heart: Darrin Robinson (1993) 2402 PTS (#2), 219 3PM (#2), 43.4 3P% (#2), 2-time All-American, conference POY
St. Francis (NY): Darrwin Purdie (1989) 1613 PTS (#1), 748 REB (#2)
Saint Francis (PA): Maurice Stokes (1955) 2282 PTS (#2), 1819 REB (#1), All-American, NIT MVP
Wagner: Terrance Bailey (1987) 2591 PTS (#1), All-American, conference POY