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Claude Sullivan

May 13, 2013

Claude Sullivan, legendary Cincinnati Reds broadcaster

There's no telling how long Claude Sullivan would have been the primary play-by-play announcer for the Cincinnati Reds. When he was hired by Burger to share the booth with Waite Hoyt in 1964, Sullivan was already widely known for his broadcasts of University of Kentucky basketball and football games. In fact, in several polls, Sullivan was more popular broadcasting UK sports on Lexington's WVLK than the legendary Cawood Ledford over WHAS. Meanwhile, in Cincinnati, Hoyt was unhappy with his previous sidekick—Gene Kelly (no, not that one)—and so Sullivan was hired.

Hoyt and Sullivan immediately hit it off…the easy going, laid back style of Sullivan meshed nicely with Hoyt's outgoing Brooklyn personality. Sullivan did pre- and post-game shows, like “Diamond Dope,” along with some play-by-play. When Hoyt decided to retire following the 1965 season, Sullivan was the obvious, unanimous choice to take his place as primary Reds' voice. Jim McIntyre was brought in from Indianapolis to assist. The pair did the 1966 season together in the booth and, in 1967, Joe Nuxhall was added as a third voice, color commentator after Nuxhall retired from his playing days. Sullivan loved doing Reds broadcasts and probably would have been the primary announcer for many, many years but a tragic event occurred during the 1967 season. It seems Sullivan had a brief bout with cancer in 1963 but it went into remission for several years only to resurface in the summer of 1967. Some listeners may recall his raspy voice as the season drew to a close. This time the throat cancer was aggressive and Sullivan died December 6, 1967 at the youthful age of 42. His son, Alan, is working on a biography and there's a video in circulation featuring Claude's most famous UK basketball call called “The Best Seat in the House.”

Find more biographies from this series: Cincinnati Reds Broadcasters

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