Mercy College athletics administrator and former longtime baseball coach and Rockland resident Bill Sullivan has been named the manager of the Irish Junior National Baseball Team.
Sullivan, who coached the Dobbs Ferry school for 18 years, including 15 years as the head coach, will lead Team Ireland at the 18U European Baseball Championships in Grosseto, Italy, from July 9-15.
“It is an honor to be selected to coach Team Ireland,” said Sullivan. “This is a team of talented high school baseball players from across the United States and they are just as proud to be representing Ireland as I am.”
Sullivan was a three-sport athlete at Clarkstown North High School in Rockland, before pitching at Nichols College and LaSalle University. He has been at Mercy College since 1991 and is currently the Senior Associate Director of Athletics. He resides in Valley Cottage, N.Y. with his wife, Tara, and their two sons, Billy and John.
“I’m extremely proud of my Irish heritage,” explained Sullivan. “My maternal grandparents, James and Mary Flynn, came to America from County Down and County Leitrim. And my paternal great grandparents, John and Nora Whelan emigrated from County Cork and County Kilkenny.”
Ireland is looking to repeat last summer’s gold medal performance at the European Qualifying Tournament. Ireland outscored opponents 65-17 in pool play, before defeating runner-up Belgium by a score of 12-0 in the gold medal game.
Ireland’s roster includes players from New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, California, Florida, and New Hampshire. To play for Ireland, Irish-American players need to have or apply for Irish citizenship. To be eligible for Irish citizenship, a player must be born in Ireland or have a parent or grandparent who was born in Ireland.
“This is a fantastic group of young baseball players,” said Baseball Ireland president Tom Kelley. “We are thrilled to have someone with the track record of Coach Sullivan leading this team.”
The players were recruited as part of a collaboration between Baseball Ireland, the governing body of amateur baseball in Ireland, and the Baseball United Foundation, a non-profit youth baseball organization based in New York.
“This year’s team includes players who have already committed to play at Division I schools,” explained Baseball United Foundation director John Fitzgerald. “Having a coach like Bill Sullivan will give these players the opportunity to learn and grow as players while competing for a gold medal. It’s an exciting time for Irish Baseball.”
Team Ireland is asking Irish-American baseball fans to donate $1 or more to offset the cost of airfare, hotel and uniforms. Sponsorships by Irish-owned small businesses are also being sought. For more information, visit IrishBaseball.org.
Main Image credit: Baseball United Foundation