This past weekend, the Braves hosted an alumni weekend celebration event at Turner Field for former players and coaches. John Sullivan, a former bullpen coach who was with the team for two seasons in the 1980s, was on the guest list. He never got his invitation. An unidentified impostor received Sullivan’s invitation in the mail, and rather than do what your everyday honest citizen might do, he decided to play along. The fake John Sullivan accepted the invitation, grabbed a No. 8 Braves jersey and headed out to the ballpark for the experience of a lifetime
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the impostor enjoyed a weekend of free hotel, drinks, food and fun. During the alumni softball game, former Braves reliever Jose Alvarez estimated that “Sullivan’s” bat speed was no quicker than 30 mph. Not wanting to be rude, Alvarez and some other former players and coaches kept quiet and assumed Sullivan was dealing with some health issues.
The fake Sullivan claimed to be a former player. Alvarez says former Braves manager Bobby Cox was embarrassed he didn’t recognize the impostor because he never forgets a former player. When Cox finally asked someone who the gentleman was and was told it was John Sullivan, he knew something was up.
“That’s not John Sullivan,” Cox told the AJC he said. “I think you’ve been had.”
Alvarez had pitched for Atlanta when Sullivan was with the organization, so he also knew something was fishy.
“I knew he wasn’t John Sullivan the coach because I played when he was here,” Alvarez said. “I figured maybe he was John Sullivan’s son.”
That’s when the buzz surrounding the impostor started to heat up. When Alvarez asked him when he played, he says the man responded, “1986 or 1987, I’m not sure.” Brilliant. He then said he played minor league ball in Greensboro, but the Braves have never had an affiliate there. Tick, tock, tick tock.
On Saturday evening, the impostor went out for drinks with some former players and was confronted. They say he finally came clean and was “real worried,” but never revealed his true identity and was gone the next morning. He skipped town with a couple of players’ cell phone numbers. The real John Sullivan, a 71-year-old who lives in New York, was informed about the incident on Monday.
“That’s pretty funny,” he said. “My wife will get a kick out of that.”
Hopefully the Braves send the actual Sullivan something nice since he never got his invitation and a complete stranger got to enjoy himself using his name. As far as the impostor is concerned, you’ve got to give him credit. Holding it together for almost 48 hours around a group of people you’ve never met before can’t be easy. The identity thief may not possess any type of baseball skill, but he certainly knows how to operate under pressure.
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