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Big 12 baseball: Baylor's Steve Smith recalls mentor Mickey Sullivan

Steve Smith passed Mickey Sullivan's win record as Baylor baseball coach less than a month after Sullivan's death.
by Ryan Aber Modified: May 25, 2012 at 5:53 pm •  Published: May 25, 2012

Steve Smith wasn't quite sure how to feel after Baylor beat Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on April 17 to make Smith the winningest coach in Bears history in any sport.

Less than a month earlier, the coach he passed, his mentor Mickey Sullivan, died at 80 after a long battle with cancer.

“There's never going to be another guy like him,” Smith said. “There's just not. I felt a little, I don't know, solemn I guess, when we passed up the win record, but I remind myself you can pass him in the win record but you're never going to beat his batting average.”

Sullivan coached Baylor from 1974-1994. Before that, he starred for the Bears, hitting a Southwest Conference record .519 in 1954. He won 649 games during his tenure in Waco.

Appropriately, his memorial service was at Baylor Ballpark on March 26.

His casket — green with a gold “Baylor baseball” logo — sat just behind home plate.

Baylor has had just three head baseball coaches since 1962 — Sullivan, Smith and Dutch Schroeder (1962-73).

“He was a character to play for,” Smith said of Sullivan. “There's no one that played for him that wouldn't have some unbelievable story to tell.”

Smith's favorite came April 3, 1982, when Baylor traveled to TCU for a Saturday doubleheader.

Smith and Jerry Arnold were slated to pitch that day for Baylor, with one starting the first game, scheduled for seven innings, and the other to pitch the nine-inning nightcap.

“I don't care which one of you pitches which game, you all just decide,” Sullivan told the duo.

Eventually, it was decided that Arnold would pitch the opener.

Arnold threw a seven-inning no-hitter and, as Smith was warming up, a manager came running to the bullpen, telling Smith to slow down because Arnold was going to start the second game as well.

Arnold threw two no-hit innings, earning credit for a nine-inning no-hitter in the SWC record books while Smith allowed a hit to the first batter he faced.

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by Ryan Aber
OU Athletics Reporter
Ryan Aber has worked for The Oklahoman since 2006, covering high schools, the Oklahoma City RedHawks, the Oklahoma City Barons and OU football recruiting. An Oklahoma City native, Aber graduated from Northeastern State. Before joining The...
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