FROM THE ARCHIVES: A profile of Larry Gallagher’s contributions to amateur baseball

Ed’s note: Bill Nelson wrote an article on Larry Gallagher back in 2008 on the previous MBA website in support of his induction to the Minnesota Amateur Baseball Hall of Fame. Gallagher died Sunday, Nov. 6 and served as a friend and mentor to scores of players, managers and umpires throughout amateur baseball for more than 60 years. Gallagher was inducted into the Class A Hall of Fame in the inaugural class in 2011. The Minnesota State High School League inducted him in its hall of fame in 2017. The MSHSL profiled him in an article posted in September shortly before he suffered a heart attack. You can read the story here.

By Bill Nelson

Larry Gallagher belongs in the Minnesota Amateur Baseball Hall of Fame. Why? Because he has been involved in every phase of baseball that you can imagine.

At Columbia Heights High School he played football, basketball and baseball. He went to the University of Minnesota and played football and baseball his freshman year. After transferring to Augsburg College he played football and baseball there. His 1961 baseball team won the MIAC Championship.

I met Larry in 1973. Gary Demars, Dick’s Place manager, told me that I could play with them that summer. He also told me that my brother Greg, who was a catcher, shouldn’t bother to come with me because he had “the best catcher in the state.”  I had to bring my brother because we only had one car and couldn’t split up. Demars finally relented and we both played for Dick’s Place.

Larry was the best catcher in the state. I saw that early on. It was great pitching to him and his demeanor was even better. He was even tempered, smart, energetic and yet he still had that great drive that made his teammates determined to play better. In the middle of the summer, Larry took a foul tip off his finger and required two hours of surgery to fix it. Needless to say, his playing days were done. At least that’s what we thought. He came back and caught in the playoffs that year because Region 20 had what Gallagher called the “Wickman” rule. You had to play two full seasons before you were eligible to play in the playoffs. Gallagher explained that in 1971 Jerry Wickman had come back from pro ball and thrown three no-hitters early that summer so the state board made a new rule. Since Greg couldn’t catch in the playoffs, Larry decided that he should.

He also caught a little in 1974 and returned to Columbia Heights in 1982 and 1983 to help out.  That was the end of his playing career, but his umpiring career was just starting to really bloom.

Larry had started as a youth umpire in 1955. In 1961, he progressed to high school and started in college ball in 1964. He did his first amateur game in 1963 and has done amateur and college ball ever since. For the last three years he has done the MIAC Tournament and this year he also did the Regional tournament in Oshkosh. Oh, did I tell you about the seven Major League Baseball games he umpired during the umpire strike of 1979?

In 2004, he had his right hip replaced, but that hasn’t slowed him down one bit. He still refs junior high basketball, and works game after game of amateur baseball. In 2005, he received the Award of Merit from the Minnesota State High School League for baseball service to the MSHSL. He was the recipient of the Angelo Giulliani award from the Minnesota State High School League in 2007 and has also been a High School Supervisor of Umpires since 1997.

All the while he taught in the North St. Paul, Maplewood, Oakdale School District, teaching science and physical education, retiring in 1999. He spent 25 years coaching baseball and basketball and 22 years as a volleyball coach. He only coached wrestling for 10 years.

He married his wife Barb in 1963 and they have a son Christopher, and a daughter, Ann Stephenson along with two grandchildren, Grace and Laura.

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