Gallagher will honor late brother as bat boy tonight
When the Tarp Skunks take to the field at Diethrick Park tonight for the first home game of their Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League season against the Batavia Muckdogs, Jamestown’s baseball legacy will be with them in the form of Jim Gallagher.
Working with Jamestown Community Baseball board members Greg Peterson and Randy Anderson, the 88-year-old Gallagher was asked to serve as the ceremonial bat boy for the Tarp Skunks opener (the team’s game at Niagara Falls on Wednesday night was rained out). In doing so, Gallagher will pay homage to the history of baseball in Jamestown, and his late brother Jack’s place in it.
“When the stadium over here, Russell Dietrick Park, opened up it was Municipal Stadium in 1941,” Gallagher recalled. “My brother was in that year the bat boy. Now it has been 80 years and they are making me the honorary bat boy because he was the bat boy 80 years ago. (Greg and Randy) must have had the picture of the baseball team in 1941 and there was my brother down in the front right sitting there. They put two and two together and said, ‘Yeah, that is Jim’s brother, which was right. At that time I was like 8 years old.”
Jack Gallagher graduated from Jamestown High School in 1943, and served as the bat boy for the then Jamestown Falcons of the Pennylvania-Ontario-New York League (PONY) during his teenage years.
During that time, Municipal Stadium would draw thousands of fans to watch PONY League games against teams like the Batavia Clippers, Hamilton Red Wings and Olean Oilers.
“When I was a kid, as long as my brother was involved down there, my mother and my father and myself used to go to all of the games and stand over on the third-base side which was the home team dugout,” Gallagher said. “So we were there quite a bit. There were only 17 players, that was it. There were none of those extended teams they have now with 40 or whatever. Only 17 players, including the manager and my brother, the bat boy. That was it, and they traveled around the league in station wagons.”
Diethrick Park has been home to many teams since the Gallagher family enjoyed those summer evenings along the third-base dugout, and now it has been proven that even a global pandemic cannot stop baseball from returning to Jamestown.
“I hope Jamestown supports this. They have had great support for teams in the past,” Gallagher said. “I remember being there when they had the teams in the 1940s. I mean there were 5,000 people in the stands. The stands would go way out on both the right and left side, so I hope they really come out. People love baseball in Jamestown. They’ve got the Babe Ruth World Series coming, so there is a great interest in Jamestown with baseball.”
Gallagher credits Peterson and Anderson for the work that they have done to help steward the return of America’s pastime to the city, and giving him the chance to honor his family’s place in Jamestown baseball history.