Sullivan had suffered a stroke, Red Sox spokesman Kevin Shea said.
Sullivan joined Jean Yawkey and Buddy LeRoux as part-owner of the Red Sox in 1978 and served as general manager from 1978-83. His place in Boston lore was assured in 1980 when he did not mail in a timely fashion a contract to Fisk, the popular catcher who wound up in the Hall of Fame.
While it is unclear whether the move was done on purpose, Fisk became a free agent, signed with the Chicago White Sox and played another 13 seasons.
Sullivan ultimately was replaced as general manager following an attempted coup by LeRoux, who tried to wrest control of the team from Sullivan and Yawkey. The saga ended in court and Sullivan was replaced as general manager by Lou Gorman.
Sullivan last worked for the Red Sox in 1993.
"My wife, Sue, and I are truly saddened by the passing of Haywood Sullivan, a dear friend and one of the great baseball executives of our generation," Commissioner Bud Selig said. "Haywood was a very decent and good person, both professionally and personally, and was a credit to the game and to the Red Sox franchise. Our deepest sympathies go out to the entire Sullivan family. We will miss him."
A native of Georgia, he had a brief major league playing career with the Red Sox and Kansas City Athletics, hitting .226 in 312 games. His first major league hit came for Boston in 1960 after five seasons and 16 at bats.
Sullivan managed Kansas City for most of the 1965 season and led the Athletics to a last-place finish.
Sullivan's son, Marc, was a catcher for the Red Sox over five seasons from 1982-87.