Episode 159 — Richard Sullivan: Baseball and Art, Getting Drafted, & Working with Watercolors

Richard Sullivan is a Braves fan living in Louisville, Kentucky. From a young age, he had two loves in life: art and baseball. Throughout his life, he found ways to combine the two, culminating in a baseball career at one of the preeminent art schools in the country, Savannah College of Art and Design. 

Richard was drafted by the Atlanta Braves while at SCAD and would go on to spend five years in the organization before eventually being released. As his baseball career was winding down, Richard was able to devote more time to his art, and is now a fine artist focusing in watercolor. His work can be found at Truist Park and the Baseball Hall of Fame, along with many other impressive locations. 

Anna and Richard chat about how playing sports is like a cheat code helping athletes develop discipline that serves them well later in life, what it was like to be a professional pitcher, and how his career in sports helps him convey emotion and action in his artwork. 

Find Richard Online:
Instagram: @richard_sullivan_art

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This podcast is part of the Curved Brim Media Network:
Website: curvedbrimmedia.com

Read the full transcript

[00:00:00] Richard: I was in Turner field in the bullpen, just, you know, kind of like, yeah, I’m not going to go in and like, but then the 10th inning came along, like they were tied one, one. They’re like, get Sully up. And I was like, Oh my God.  but I think my favorite memory was just like jogging. From the bullpen to the mound and just being like, Oh my God, this is what it feels like, and it wasn’t a packed stadium. It was probably half full, but, but just being at this major league stadium being like, this is what it feels like.

[00:00:28] Richard: I think that was my favorite moment. And I, it wasn’t about the pitching. It was just about like experiencing that, you know, moment before where you’re just like, man, this is what you dream about your whole life. And and I think I was very grateful to have that experience. 

[00:00:44] Anna: What’s up bucketheads. Thanks for tuning in and welcome to episode number 159 of the baseball bucket list podcast. I’m your host Anna DiTommaso, and each week on the show, I speak with a different baseball fan about their favorite memories. What’s left on their baseball bucket list. And what the game of baseball means to them. This week, I had the pleasure of chatting with Richard Sullivan from Louisville, Kentucky. Richard is a lifelong Braves fan who was born and raised in the Louisville area. And from a young age, Richard had two loves in life baseball and art. Throughout his life. He found a way to combine the two culminating in the college career at one of the preeminent art schools in the country, Savannah College of Art and Design. 

[00:01:22] Anna: After a few years at SCAD, Richard was drafted by the Atlanta Braves and would spend five years in the organization before eventually being released. Now, during that time, the time available he had for art significantly dwindled. But he found his way back to art late in his baseball career, and is now a professional artist. His work is featured at Truist Park and the Hall of Fame along with many other impressive locations.

[00:01:44] Anna: We chat about how participating in organized athletics provided a bit of a cheat code for building discipline later in life, what it was like to attend art school and play college athletics at the same time, and how it felt to run to the mound in a major league ballpark.

[00:01:58] Anna: This episode was a lot of fun. I feel like Richard has some super unique perspectives on baseball, teamwork, and artwork. And I can’t wait to share the interview with you. Now without further ado, sit back, relax and enjoy some baseball banter with Richard Sullivan.

[00:02:12] Anna: Richard, thank you so much for joining us today on the Baseball Bucket List. How are things in Louisville?

[00:02:18] Richard: Of course. Thanks for having me, Anna. Uh, things are great. I’m surviving the heat and getting work done. So

[00:02:25] Anna: Yeah, the heat is no joke this year. It, uh, I don’t know how it is for y’all,

[00:02:29] Richard: come on early.

[00:02:30] Richard: yeah, 

[00:02:31] Anna: it’s gross, but

[00:02:34] Richard: And as a baseball player, I’m used to it, but it is kind of, you know, you want a break. It’s like two days on one day off type of thing.

[00:02:43] Anna: yeah, exactly. Man, the older I get, the more I sit inside, and the harder it gets to go outside and not, like, feel like I’m about to melt.

[00:02:52] Richard: I know. I think we’re, as we get older, we realize like how much suffering, like being in extreme weather is, and like, we don’t, I don’t want suffering. Like I, I’d rather like my body be at normal temperature. And I, you know, playing sports is all, all about like, kind of pushing yourself into that suffering and kind of being like, okay, do I enjoy this?

[00:03:12] Richard: Or do I, you know, how much can I suffer? I guess.

[00:03:14] Anna: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, I’ll take the AC any day now, anyways, but

[00:03:20] Richard: Yeah. Oh my gosh.

[00:03:22] Anna: So, the question I normally get started with in these things is, how is it that you became a fan of the game of baseball?

[00:03:29] Richard: Yeah, um, I can, I mean, it’s dates back to, you know, early childhood. I think as, you know, from my early memories, like my dad always says, like the minute I picked up the ball, like I just threw it and I was hooked, you know, I was picking up rocks and throwing them whenever I could. And, you know, just that joy of kind of using my body in a way that like in, in a directed motion and kind of using my whole, like the energy just.

[00:03:59] Richard: I just felt joy and I feel like that resonated with me, like at such an early age that I, you know, I knew baseball was going to be a part of my life for a long time. And I didn’t really know like life outside of that sport and be on a team until so, you know, my late early or, you know, mid twenties, so. It was, uh, yeah, I don’t know.

[00:04:23] Anna: That’s cool. I like that perspective a lot. Now, were you born and raised in Louisville, or did you grow up somewhere else?

[00:04:29] Richard: Yes. I was born and raised in Louisville. Um, my parents were from, my dad’s from Illinois and my mom’s from central Kentucky, so they were both like farmer, you know, farming families, but they kind of were outcasts from that and they liked tech and it was all, they were kind of moved to Lowell because of Humana, this big insurance company, and they just settled here and I, I really didn’t.

[00:04:54] Richard: Um, you know, because I was, I’ll say that because look. My family’s are farmers and I don’t really have a lot of perspective on that, but like we didn’t, we weren’t raised as like a, you know, in the city type of thing. Like, I felt like we were raised in that farming attitude where scarcity and like working hard and all that stuff.

[00:05:17] Anna: yeah, so Louisville doesn’t have a major league team.

[00:05:20] Richard: Yeah, so we’re home to the Louisville Bats, which is the triple A field for the Reds. So the Reds are really the closest team. It’s like an hour and a half away. And then, yeah, I guess the, you know, after that Chicago, Detroit, Pittsburgh, you know, and Atlanta. So it’s kind of a hot, it’s, you don’t, it doesn’t take a lot to get to these major cities, but yeah, we’re definitely kind of not in a major league town.

[00:05:48] Anna: yeah I bet you have kind of like a melting pot of baseball fans there You know You probably have like kind of one of every flavor in terms of who who people are rooting for but you yourself Do you have a favorite team?

[00:06:01] Richard: Yeah, I mean, I grew up in the Turner TBS days when the Braves were on every single day. So I grew up watching the Braves. My dad was a huge Cardinals fan. So I think I have some allegiance to them, but I would say personally, the Braves were my team. I was, you know, John Smoltz, Tom Glavine, uh, Maddox, and, you know, Chipper, all that core group was throughout the nineties.

[00:06:25] Richard: Fell in love with them and watched them all the time.

[00:06:28] Anna: Yeah Things are starting to make a little more sense to me some stuff that we’re gonna get in here into here in a little bit But I want to talk a little bit about you know You mentioned playing baseball being an athlete for a very very long time in your life until I mean You know, you were a young adult for sure by by any standards So, can you kind of give listeners a little bit of background?

[00:06:53] Anna: information about your baseball journey through, you know, high school into college and beyond.

[00:06:59] Richard: Yeah, um, I looking back. I mean baseball was Like saved my life. I feel like it was the first time I experienced like joy or like being a part of a team and, and positive feedback. And like, my coaches were always like very positive and I was always really willing to listen and to absorb information and, and yeah, like using.

[00:07:26] Richard: My body and being a pitcher, I was always a pitcher. So I always loved be on the mound and just like really giving everything. I had each pitch because that it felt like I was releasing emotions. I was processing things. And even though like, maybe like at home or in school, like I didn’t really know how to communicate that well on the baseball field, I knew exactly how to communicate, which was just.

[00:07:51] Richard: throwing, you know, throwing strikes, being hard worker, like, and being a team player, I think. So in a way, like, baseball taught me all my life lessons, um, when outside of that sport, I didn’t have a lot of structure. I didn’t have, like, And look in this, I didn’t know this at the time, but looking back, that’s kind of how it was.

[00:08:12] Richard: And so baseball was a huge structural component to my early childhood and high school and art was too. So I was always in art class. And, you know, from the minute I picked up a pencil, um, I was always drawing kind of the world around me and kind of experiencing, um, I guess in a way they were very similar, like feelings.

[00:08:34] Richard: I felt safe and I felt connected, um, in both of those endeavors, even though they were pretty opposite on the outside. So, you know, in high school, I was like, I was a really like in middle school, I was like six foot. Thrown 85, just like dominating everyone. I could, I had a good curve ball. And so I, I, I was like, this is easy.

[00:08:58] Richard: This is fun. This is like, you know, I was Nolan Ryan out there. And then in high school, like everyone kind of caught up to me. I I was only thrown 88, 90 and didn’t really progress, you know, that much in high school. So I felt like I struggled in high school, but I was lucky enough to find The school, uh, SCAD, Savannah College of Art and Design that had a art program.

[00:09:23] Richard: Like they were the only art school in the country that had a baseball program. So I was, I got a scholarship to do both of these things I was passionate about. And that was a huge blessing. I didn’t realize it at the time, but that was like really open, opened my life up.

[00:09:37] Anna: Yeah. It’s funny how, you know, as we get older, we kind of start to recognize some things that we didn’t know when we were younger. Like we, we couldn’t necessarily like put into words what those, Things meant to us or what lessons we were in the middle of learning or you know things like that But then as we get older we get a little more perspective and it’s like oh, okay I knew something was there intrinsically like I had to have otherwise, I wouldn’t have stuck with it.

[00:10:04] Anna: But now You know now here I am on the other side looking back and going well, thank God for that. So

[00:10:11] Richard: Yeah, you’re right. Absolutely right. And when you’re young, you don’t even know. You’re like, Oh, this is just normal. This is what everybody’s experiencing.

[00:10:19] Anna: yeah Yeah. so SCAD, of Art and Design is, um, like one of the top art schools in the country. Yeah.

[00:10:28] Richard: Yeah. Now, I mean, I guess back then it was too, but it has definitely been recognized, uh, as you know, kind of the premier one, like top three in the art school. Yeah.

[00:10:38] Anna: And then, uh, just a bonus that they, they happen to be a little closer than you were to your Atlanta Braves. So,

[00:10:45] Richard: You’re right. Yeah. Right. Um, I, even though I didn’t make it to Atlanta until I got drafted by them, but yeah,

[00:10:53] Anna: Talk a little bit about your time at SCAD because, you know, I’ve, I’ve had the opportunity to talk to a couple of collegiate athletes. I was one myself. Um, so I know it’s a different world than, you know, the typical college student, but I got to imagine that it’s going to be even more of a difference to be at, you know, like an uber competitive art school while also being uber competitive on the baseball field.

[00:11:18] Richard: yeah, it was kind of a very demanding, uh, I really, know how demanding was going to be. I think baseball took probably 60, 70 percent of my time. And then 10 percent of that time was like rest. And then, you know, the other 20 or 30, like it’s like, there was literally no time to, to be creative or to be like an art student.

[00:11:42] Richard: So I think definitely I struggled and I think our whole team struggled. Um, Getting stuff done, getting work done. Cause in our school, like it’s not like you can cram for a test or just packing a bunch of information really quickly, you have to put a project together, like you have to draw something or create something that takes time and trains, like you can’t force.

[00:12:07] Richard: You can rush through it and then like, that’s kind of what I was doing. I was just kind of either saying, okay, this is a good stopping point, and just turning it in or being like, well, this is my first idea. I’m gonna just go for it. And, but, and maybe that helped me in a way, kind of like pro like figure out like, okay, like I just have to do it.

[00:12:27] Richard: And, but yeah, it was difficult being at like doing both. And I think, but I think I. Loved it because we’re as a sports, you know, on the team, like everybody was struggling like that, like the architecture students, especially like they were spending like five all nighters a night or a week just trying to get work done.

[00:12:49] Richard: And I was like, I promise I was like, I’m not doing all nighters. I cannot focus and rest or focus on baseball and full all nighters. And so I, I would sacrifice my work and rather than, you know, pulling an all nighter. So it, yeah, it was tricky. I, um, during, but honestly it was, I was, it was expanding my world.

[00:13:14] Richard: I was learning so much. I was making friends. It felt like very exciting as well. Like, and it like being, having found this art artist, athlete community. that I didn’t have any idea was there in the world, you know, I, I, in high school, I really. Didn’t feel connected to my teammates or, you know, like, cause art, art and sports don’t really mix.

[00:13:36] Richard: They’re like oil and water back then. They were, you know, um, so I, it was an incredibly expanding time. It was definitely challenging, but I was very lucky to have gone back to finish my senior year without baseball. And that was a completely different experience that. allowed me to focus, um, you know, a hundred percent on school.

[00:13:58] Richard: And I was like, Oh my God, I can do this. This is easy. You know, how, like, why are students struggling? Like they have so much time available. You know, I’m sure you experienced that. Like we, like 90 percent of our time is like for the sport, you

[00:14:12] Anna: Yeah. Exactly. Yeah. I always say that like my college athletics experience made the rest of my life so much easier. Like it just seemed, you know, uh, it seems so much easier. I feel like I have complete control over where I have to be and when I want to be there and what I’m doing now. And that’s just a, it’s something that I’ll never take for granted again.

[00:14:33] Richard: You’re right. Cause you had a little, very little control back then. And you were, and that was kind of easy. Cause people were like, okay, yeah, be here and there. And I, that structure, it was kind of like being in the army in that way. But after that, you’re like, Oh, like that, some of that didn’t feel good either.

[00:14:50] Richard: And I like. But you’re right. Whenever there’s a, like you have to structure your day. It’s, I think we’re very time oriented and kind of like goal oriented. So,

[00:15:02] Anna: Yeah, it definitely has its advantages. That’s that’s for sure. So what happened after SCAD? You mentioned you got drafted by a little team some folks might have heard of but Talk a little bit about your baseball career after college outside of college Yeah, yeah,

[00:15:27] Richard: I was, wasn’t doing that great junior year. I found, basically I found the two seam fastball and that, like I started throwing the sinker as a lefty and I was just, I started throwing in the low to mid nineties and kind of just really finding myself as a athlete my junior year and just like the first game, like one scout was there the second start, like two or three, and then by the end of the season, like 25 scouts were there.

[00:15:56] Richard: And that was kind of an exciting time ’cause there was all this momentum going into the draft and people were telling me things and I was like, oh, this is cool. Like I’m, I didn’t realize really like. I, it was obviously like in the back of my head, like a dream, but for me, it wasn’t really a reality until like the, for the last two months of that season where I was very determined to like, okay, this is it, like, I’m going to do this.

[00:16:24] Richard: So, um, and yeah, I would say to like, I was fighting myself, finding my confidence. Um. Being more, in control and being a leader, I guess, internally. So yeah, my, um, I remember, I feel like we are, are, uh, baseball, college baseball season ended in like April or May, end of April. And then I had that month of May to kind of do pre draft workouts and stuff like that.

[00:16:53] Richard: And, and that was a very nerve wracking time because. I just didn’t know what was going to happen. So, and then the draft happened and the, the Braves had called me like two days before the draft, they were like, we’re going to take you. You know, in this round for this much. And I was like, Oh, that’s awesome.

[00:17:10] Richard: Okay. Like, let’s do that. And then the first day went by no call, nothing. I’m like, Oh my God, what’s going to happen now? So that, that night of, um, the first night of the draft, I wasn’t sleeping. I was like, what if I don’t get drafted? It was like the most stress inducing night ever. And then, but thankfully.

[00:17:31] Richard: The second day I was drafted in the 11th round and to the Braves. And, you know, they were very kind. They gave me close to what they said. They’re going to offer me in like the middle rounds and, um, just the Braves are like the most, um, generous kind, like very, they, they do have this reputation for like building their players up and being, um, just an outstanding organization for.

[00:17:59] Richard: Kind of developing players and, and treating people the right way. And I think, um, I saw that, you know, the minute I got there. Um, but so like June happened. And I didn’t realize this, this is another thing I was like stressing over at the time, but my agent was negotiating, my college scholarship program because in the, in these, uh, contracts, you can get scholarship to go back to school if you need it.

[00:18:28] Richard: So I had that year left and he was negotiating, uh, money in that contract for like inflation and figuring out how much. Money I would need if I went back to school, whatever, how many years later? And at that point I was stressing. I was like, what if they say no, like what’s going to happen? You know, all this negative.

[00:18:47] Richard: Or like, what if like, I don’t know, but, um, so, but that was a huge, um, huge thing because it allowed me to, to go back to school with a scholarship after I played. And I didn’t realize how important that would be after. so yeah, about a month after I got drafted, I, I went, I drove to Danville, Virginia and started my minor league career and I met Craig Kimbrell the first day, like Jason and Brady were. Rome. I, yeah, so I, I don’t know. It was very, it was like a whirlwind. I didn’t really know what, I was like a baby, like, Oh, like what’s happening, you know? Um, but also like, I knew what I needed to do. I was very focused when I got on the mound and I was, um, had this confidence that, I’m, I belong here, but also I know nothing, you know, if that makes sense.

[00:19:41] Anna: how long did you play

[00:19:43] Richard: I played, uh, five years with the brave. So, um, uh, I climbed pretty quickly. I had a lot of success early. Um, in my first full year, like that short season that I had and I got to double a my first full year and I was like, Oh my God, this is like crazy. I, and I honestly couldn’t, I think I self sabotaged myself at that point because I was like, this is too, like what, like everybody was saying, all the coaches was like, you know, you’re.

[00:20:14] Richard: You’re going to get there, whatever, all this stuff. And I, I think I didn’t believe it myself. I was like, how can they say that? Like, I’m not like, I’m not that good anyway. So once I got to double a, I started to like, try and shit, like be better than I was, or like try and figure out like, how can I, improve instead of just being like, okay, I’m need to do my thing.

[00:20:36] Richard: Like I’m here for a reason. Don’t change anything. Just keep focused. I tried, started changing my mechanics. I tried to like, I was like over coaching myself and every pitching, I had three different pitching coaches one year and they were all telling me like a different place to stand on the rubber and every, like, it was crazy.

[00:20:55] Richard: So I think I kind of like mentally, sabotage myself. I started having a lot of anxiety, like performing really wasn’t fun anymore. I wasn’t having, enjoying being like pitching. I, like, I just couldn’t sleep at night if I had a bad game. So like, I would say like the first, the first three years, two and a half years were amazing.

[00:21:19] Richard: The second half of my career was just a nightmare. It was just like, Anxiety after anxiety and just really struggling mentally and, and not really knowing where to turn to. I didn’t have any, I didn’t feel like I could talk to anybody about it. You know, my partner at the time, she kind of understood, but like I couldn’t talk.

[00:21:41] Richard: And I, I didn’t feel like I could talk to my coaches about it because I thought they would be like, you’re done, you know, you’re out of here. Um, so I think the mental game is something that I don’t know if you’ve experienced this, but like, we, we need to talk to somebody about that. You know, there, you can’t just hold it all in and expect things to change.

[00:21:59] Richard: You have to like, you know, like go through it. And so yeah, five years and I, I wasn’t going to quit, like there was. I was like so relieved at the end because they released me and I was like, God. You know, like I was, I felt relief. I felt like, thank you. Like I am free, you know, at the end of that experience.

[00:22:22] Richard: And that’s, I don’t know if that’s normal for, for athletes to experience that.

[00:22:27] Anna: yeah. That’s a good question. I mean, I would guess that everybody kind of has a different reaction, but you know, one of the things I read on your bio on your site is that When you were little it seemed like baseball was like this outlet for you to kind of like deal with these like big Feelings and emotions that you didn’t really know like where else to put and then I think a lot of athletes feel that way So there gets to be this point in careers at some point where like you have those emotions But they’re being caused by the one thing that you’ve spent your entire life As your outlet, so it gets really difficult to like kind of unravel your self identity from that and like know where you’re supposed to put all of that stuff because like your sport doesn’t accept it anymore, right?

[00:23:15] Anna: Like, or it’s even the cause of it. So,

[00:23:17] Richard: It’s like the snake eating the

[00:23:19] Richard: tail, you know, at that point you’re just consuming yourself. So you have to, yeah. How do you transmute that? I don’t know. It’s a good question.

[00:23:27] Anna: Yeah. Is that how you found your way back to artwork?

[00:23:31] Richard: Yeah. I was in my fifth year of the Braves. I had gone to Michael’s and got some pink watercolor stuff just really as like, I needed to just do something, you know, like kind of a last. I felt really good doing that. I felt like, oh, this is like, you know, that lightness that you feel when you just are in joy and, you know, that started coming back and I hadn’t felt that for a long time because of baseball.

[00:23:59] Richard: And yeah, that was sad. I think I was so sad that baseball was like this thing. This thing I didn’t like anymore. I think there’s a lot of pain there, you know, and So art definitely allowed me to let baseball go without like completely losing my identity, you know And I think that’s why I started paying sports is like I needed to like more in the loss without Completely separating myself from it and I didn’t I didn’t Know that at the time either, but like I was just like, this is what I need to do.

[00:24:28] Richard: So, um, yeah. And now I’m questioned, like I’ve kind of gone through this evolution as an artist and I question like, why am I paying sports still? Like, what, what do I have to offer? Or like, what connection do I have to, but it’s, it’s such a deep part of my soul that like, I think it will always be a part of me, you know?

[00:24:50] Richard: And I think, or, and I think, I feel like I’m a bridge. Like there’s. as an artist, artists are like bridge or bridges to this other world where people could feel something different. And I think that’s why I paint sports is like most sports fans, you know, and I’m just kind of, as a broad example, most sports fans don’t.

[00:25:13] Richard: Really, uh, understand art or, or collect art or the things like that. You know, there, there’s like such a disconnect

[00:25:20] Anna: Mm hmm. Yeah,

[00:25:21] Richard: And I feel like I’m the bridge, like I would love for every sports fan to collect original art. I want, you know, there’s. there’s so much to be felt and experienced through art that isn’t maybe experienced through, you know, your everyday life.

[00:25:37] Anna: yeah, definitely. I mean, I can definitely sense that from, you know, seeing your, your stuff online. it’s got like a level to it that it’s very obvious that you experienced the emotion and the movement of the of that sport, all sports, you know, on your own. I feel like it kind of gave you a, uh, advantage of conveying that stuff, uh, more clearly than, you know, someone who, who wouldn’t know what it felt like to torque your arm that way or something like that.

[00:26:10] Anna: So,

[00:26:11] Richard: yeah, you’re right. It’s a, I try and every time I paint, I try and like get into the moment in a little bit. And like, it’s not like I’m there, I can’t feel anything, but I definitely am like, okay, let’s. Let’s how you doing Randy or whoever I’m paying. I’m like, let’s connect, you know, let’s like, how are you feeling right now in that moment, you know?

[00:26:31] Anna: yeah. Yeah, exactly. It definitely shows. Your artwork is in like some pretty impressive places, too. I know it’s, some is hanging in the Hall of Fame. Some is at Truist. and then you did a really cool bottle of, I’m a big whiskey fan. I, I haven’t seen this in person, but, uh, I saw it on your website, the, the Woodford bottle with the, uh, from the Kentucky not too long ago.

[00:26:57] Anna: So, Man, do those places, I mean, do they just call you up and they’re like, Hey, we need some artwork for, you know, Truist Park.

[00:27:06] Richard: Um, I had to work really hard for that. Like there was I When I got done I graduated and all this stuff and then they were building that stadium They had announced it like probably 2015 14 15 and I was like, oh my god, like I want, that’s the goal. Like after baseball, I was like, that was kind of my clear vision of like, I want to have artwork in that stadium.

[00:27:31] Richard: And, and I had connections with the Brace still, I connected with Jonathan Scherholtz with it, which is John’s. The, um, President Schoenholtz’s, uh, son, he was like a, a roving scout when I was there and he was very kind to me. And he kind of like every, every few weeks after I get done with a few paintings, I would send them some work and be like, Hey, this is what I’m doing.

[00:27:56] Richard: Like, would love to connect with you guys and pretty much just bugged him until. Bug them until they gave me a meeting and I flew down to Atlanta and had a meeting with like John and uh, Derek Schiller and Mike Plant, all those, the top three dudes in the Braves organization and kind of just laid it all out.

[00:28:17] Richard: Like this is what I want to do. and they, You know, I, it was a good story. You know, I think my, I’ve been very lucky in my art career because I’ve, I’ve taken what I already had built a foundation on, which was baseball and kind of connected it with art and I feel like people were like, uh, interested, you know, very quickly and I don’t, I don’t even think I deserved artistically, you know, say like I knew, my stuff was pretty good, but I had no merit artistically, you know, at that point.

[00:28:49] Richard: They kind of took a chance on me. which was, I was very, um, grateful for that. That was 2017. And so, and then the, the Baseball Hall of Fame, like, I don’t, I was just like, Hey, can I donate it painting to y’all? Like, I would love to, and I showed them a few paintings and they kind of had this meeting and they, they wanted the paint, you know, it was a, it was a really early painting of like a, um, Uh, base runner from the Braves, like running, like kind of like a bang, bang play at first base.

[00:29:18] Richard: It was a lot of action. So, um, yeah, that kind of just happened pretty naturally. I felt like in, especially at the beginning, the small wins are the most important things, pieces to the puzzle, because those will propel you to the bigger wins that might not happen if those small wins didn’t take place.

[00:29:38] Richard: Does that make sense?

[00:29:39] Anna: for sure. You, you got to build the foundation first.

[00:29:42] Richard: yeah. So, um, yeah, it all the kind of after the Braves happened. I thought like my world was just going to open up. I was like, Oh my God, this is going to be easy. You know, like, and it wasn’t the case. I think I was very humbled the last, uh, you know, seven years of like for 10 years, I’ve been doing this, like you know, I’ve been very humble because I think my ego was like attaching to the success or attaching to like being, you know, This whatever, you know, artists that, I mean, I didn’t know anything about the art, art world.

[00:30:15] Richard: I didn’t know. I, you know, I still like, um, I’m learning like as a, for, for me as an artist, I think I just kind of put my baseball ego into the artist’s ego and was like, Oh, I’m a, uh, now I’m a good artist, you know, and I think I had to be humbled, um, in that because you know, pre COVID like 18, 19, I was like, Kind of starting to feel like I’m like, you know, just better than I was, I guess.

[00:30:47] Richard: I don’t know. Or and it started to like I think it was the snake eating the tail again really because I started to Find that I wasn’t enjoying painting, you know, I was just looking for the high of the of the projects So, um, I had to, you know, a lot of humbling going on in, in my life, I think a

[00:31:10] Anna: Yeah. that was another quote I saw you were talking about how much of a journey it had been. And you said something very similar to what you just said about chasing highs and lows and finally coming to a realization that like, that’s not what it’s about.

[00:31:25] Anna: You’re just supposed to be here and experiencing the moment that you’re in right now. And, um, do you think that that’s made your artwork better?

[00:31:33] Richard: hundred percent. Yeah, I do. Um, because I’m, I can be present without being like, where is this going? Who’s buying this? Like, why am I doing this? It’s just about the moment of, and I think watercolor especially connects you to the moment because you can’t really, it’s like surfing a wave. You really can’t.

[00:31:55] Richard: Look this way or that way without falling, you know, so you really have to be like dead set, like on the center of the wave, just like following the trail, you know, and, um, watercolor is really like a meditation, you know, it drops you in. And now I, when I first started with watercolor, I wanted to rush through it.

[00:32:17] Richard: I was nervous. I was like, really like, Oh, this is uncomfortable, you know, but now I feel like. Even if I’m the wave is like a short wave, I can get in and get out and now and kind of like dance a little bit. so yeah, I’ve gotten more comfortable as a, as an artist, as I’ve been, you know, working.

[00:32:36] Anna: it’s funny cuz I I have similar like You know, your college career in particular, like I played soccer. It’s so short, right? It’s so short. Now I, I like close my eyes and four years go by and I just can’t even like believe it, but in the moment it felt like such a long time. Now I’m left with this, like.

[00:32:57] Anna: You know, I have all these questions about like, what if I had done this differently or if that had whatevered or, you know, like, would things have worked out differently? Would it have been a different path or something like that? like, you have to have those moments in order to, to actually be able to like appreciate them for what they are even.

[00:33:14] Anna: So like, if everything was just easy from the get go, like, what are you going to learn from it? You know?

[00:33:20] Richard: You’re going to be entitled or something, you know, like, and, and I think some, some athletes are so good, like that. They are just. They’re the like 0. 01%. You know, I’ve always, they always said like the 0. 1 percent of athletes can just do nothing and get to the big leagues. You know, there’s like 10 percent that are so good that they can just work a little bit, but the rest of them have to work so hard and struggle and be so consistent.

[00:33:51] Richard: And that’s, I’m sure that’s what soccer. And, and yeah, in that moment of those. Times when maybe you didn’t like score that goal or Pat, you know, you question everything in that moment. And, but then like four years go by and it’s like, it doesn’t really matter. You know, like it might matter a little, I don’t know.

[00:34:10] Richard: It’s, it’s not, you know.

[00:34:12] Anna: One of life’s great questions, you know, like just the the things that cycle through my head every once in a while

[00:34:19] Richard: But I do feel like sports in general, like a huge blessing

[00:34:24] Richard: to heat, to to like processing emotion. And art is like very healing, but sports. Or like the, uh, the processing, like you, you could kind of optimize the, the emotion or, you know, like whatever you were feeling that day, like once you’re on the field, you, you let go, you know, it was kind of out of there.

[00:34:47] Richard: And, and once you got off of the field, you’re like, Oh, why was I so worried about that?

[00:34:51] Anna: Yeah, exactly Exactly. What comes to mind if I ask you what your favorite baseball memory is

[00:34:59] Anna: Yeah

[00:35:03] Richard: like I had an opportunity to fly or go to Turner Field, like right before camp broke. It was in spring training. It was an exhibition game. So that, you know, remember they had, I don’t think they do that much anymore, but.

[00:35:15] Richard: Like the few days before the season and spring training, they had like an exhibition game, so they brought like 10 Meyer leaguers to like back up and, um, we were playing the twins and like, I was in Turner field in the bullpen, just, you know, kind of like, yeah, I’m not going to go in and like, but then the 10th inning came along, like they were tied one, one.

[00:35:36] Richard: They’re like, get Sully up. And I was like, Oh my God. So I was, you know, Roger McDowell was the pitching coach back then. And he would, he had, I met him a few times I was living in Atlanta. So, He, yeah, he, I think he just really wanted to like me and wanted to see what I had. And, uh, so I was like spiking curve balls in the bullpen, just like really kind of nervous.

[00:35:58] Richard: And, but I think my favorite memory was just like jogging. From the bullpen to the mound and just being like, Oh my God, this is what it feels like, you know, cause like I didn’t like, and it wasn’t a packed stadium. It was probably half full, but, but just being at this major league stadium being like, this is what it feels like.

[00:36:16] Richard: I think that was my favorite moment. And I, I did well, like I. I got a ground or pop fly. I walked the guy that got a double play and I was out of that inning. But, um, I, I kind of blanked, you know, like that it wasn’t about the pitching. It was just about like experiencing that, like, you know, moment before where you’re just like, man, this is what you dream about your whole life.

[00:36:40] Richard: And I, and I think I was very grateful to have that experience. And, um, and, and I think that allowed me to let go of the, of like needing to like actually get to the big leagues, you know, because I, I think at that point I knew I wasn’t going to make it, but I had that experience, you know? Um, so that was cool.

[00:37:01] Richard: And I mean, getting, I met Hank Aaron and Turner field in the bathroom, like washing my hands. And I was like, turned in like Hank Aaron was washing his hands. I was like, Oh my God. So I, like, washed, like, dried off, and I shook his hand and was like, Such an honor to meet you. He was kind of flabbergasted.

[00:37:17] Richard: Didn’t really know what to say, but, uh, he, he just wished me luck. And that was, Hank used to work out at Turner Field every morning, like, in the off season.

[00:37:26] Anna: Cool

[00:37:28] Richard: So that was cool. So I think just being, you know, being such a Braves fan and getting to see and meet all these people that were still in the organization that were just such a huge part of baseball, a huge part of the Braves organization.

[00:37:41] Richard: Um, yeah, I mean, there’s so many cool moments. I’ve had such a blessed baseball life in that regard, like being an artist that got to see kind of the, the, uh, Kind of taking the umbrella off of the game and just being like, this is the back end of, of a sport that sits at entertainment industry, it’s competing with movies, it’s competing, you know, like, and I think as a player, it made me a little sad because that’s how they see the game.

[00:38:10] Richard: It’s like, it’s not, it’s not such a, uh, a huge deal. It’s just like, how are we going to get fans in how this, you know, so it’s, I think seeing that at the, like post my career, I was like, yeah, like, They’re not really, they don’t really know, or they do, but they, it’s like, they’re so far removed from actually experiencing like the pain, the highs and lows of the game, you know?

[00:38:32] Anna: it’s almost like the, uh, executives or something like that are actually feeling, feeling less than like, obviously the players, but maybe even the fans, but to a certain extent, you know?

[00:38:44] Richard: Yeah. Cause they’re in it for the long haul. They’re like this, how are we going to like sustain this? It’s a business. How are we going to sustain this business for 10 years? They have kind of this. You know, and how are we going to get fans in the field? How are we going to win ballgames? And, so it’s a, it’s like this balance they have to, and it’s a really tricky balance.

[00:39:05] Richard: Cause they’re working with player development. They’re working with marketing. They’re working with everyone. Like everyone has to be so in sync in that organization for them to be successful. And I think the Braves have done a really great job in that regard.

[00:39:19] Anna: Yeah. Yeah, definitely. Those were some really crazy cool stories, but like what what’s left on the baseball bucket list, right? Like is there is there one thing you want to do or a person you want to meet or a place you got to see? Anything like that?

[00:39:35] Richard: I’ve never actually been to Cooperstown, so I would love to do that. Um, and see my, my work up there. Um, yeah. And as a fan, like I love going to the games and watching experience that and being just like kind of enjoying it because I don’t think I had a lot of joy playing, honestly. Um, yeah. Like going to Cooperstown, like being not just being kind of anonymous and being like, yeah, this is, It’s like a really beautiful game and it feels really good to be here.

[00:40:04] Richard: And so, and, you know, I think maybe painting live at some stadiums, like I would love to develop in a way where I could set up my easel, paint like the stadium and the action and just interact with fans more and be kind of more like how to take my art to the, to this, the spot, you know, instead of working from photos and stuff.

[00:40:27] Anna: That would be really cool. That’d be super cool Richard I’ve so enjoyed this. This has been an absolute blast before I let you go We gotta let people know, where do they find you online?

[00:40:39] Richard: Yeah, um, you can Google me, Richard Sullivan art and find my website and find me on Instagram. It’s Richard Sullivan art, um, on Instagram as well. And, um, I’m doing these like a, I’m in the middle of this hundred day, Daily watercolor painting series where I’m painting baseball, paying a lot, lots of sports and other stuff too.

[00:41:01] Richard: And my goal for that is just to like paint smaller, kind of be more accessible to, um, every fan. Like I really truly my passion is like connecting baseball fans, sports fans, any, any, anyone that. Is inspired by art to like original art because I think owning original art is so important. And yeah, so I’m, I’m doing these really small portraits and action shots and it’s really fun because it has allowed me to grow as an artist, but also like finish something in a day and be like, Oh, this is like, I don’t have to think about that again.

[00:41:36] Richard: You know, it’s done.

[00:41:37] Richard: So 

[00:41:38] Anna: That’s awesome. That’s so cool. I can’t wait to check that out. thank you so much for coming on, making the time, I, I really enjoyed this and I look forward to seeing what you come up with next.

[00:41:49] Richard: Thanks Anna. It’s been a pleasure.

[00:41:51] Anna: And that will wrap up this episode of the baseball bucket list podcast, special things to Richard Sullivan for joining us today and sharing those stories and memories. If this sounds like something you’d like to do, if you think you might like to be a guest on the show, I had to baseball bucket list.com/podcast and fill out an application. 

[00:42:06] Anna: I’d absolutely love to hear from you. While you’re there. Make sure to spend some time on the site, set up for a free membership, build your own baseball bucket list. Track your ballpark visits and connect with other fans. And if you find yourself enjoying the show each week, please take a moment to rate and review it in the podcast app of your choice. It goes such a long way in helping new listeners find the show. And I would really, really appreciate it. 

[00:42:28] Anna: That’s it for this week. Thanks so much for listening. We’ll see you. Next episode. 

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