Tales of the Pros

By Mick Holien

Ok yes I am the first to admit it. IMO is quite the history buff but not necessarily the guy that wanders through museums to my heart’s content even though there are a myriad of excellent opportunities to do so.

I just really enjoy finding Montana connections in an assortment of corners.

It just seems one doesn’t have to look far or maybe harkens back into your memory banks to find such things that tickle my fancy.

And when of course if you relate it to the state’s sports history or old photographs well now you have really piqued my interest.

I still have loads of that kind of memorabilia and most come with a story either about how I obtained it or why it interested me.

And while an upcoming episode will focus on just what is in these area museums and their vital importance, I recently was drawn to Brian D’Ambrosio latest effort entitled Montana and the NFL and not just because he quoted me.

This one is soft cover but he has a previous work that is hard cover entitled Warrior in the Ring, the story of local boxing legend Marvin Camel.

Now everyone probably knows prominent players with Montana connections that made it to the bigs – you know Jan Stenerud, Doug Betters, Pat Donovan and the like, but does Steve Sullivan from Butte ring a bell.

Well if you are a history buff it should. He was one of the state’s earliest pros, after an all-everything four year UM career.

In 1922 he toiled in the pay for play ranks for such teams as the Milwaukee badgers, the Hammond pros, and the crimson giant. In ‘23 he played some games for an Indiana traveling team before being traded to the Kansas City Blues.

They became the KC Cowboys and folded after a couple of years but while still in the ranks Sully began coaching at Butte Central.

Reportedly quite the character hr ran unsuccessfully for Sheriff touting as a Democrat he was admired by all and had no enemies.

He later became a presiding judge in greyhound racing, moved to California where he died in 1969.

While the stories of the state’s stars are endless – did you know former Packer Jerry Cramer was born in the state – the tales of the lesser recognized are highly enjoyable.

And into my archives it goes.

Just sayin


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