Brash former CityTV sportscaster shares memories in new book

Longtime CityTV sportscaster John Gallagher's memoir has been published by Dundurn Press.

Longtime CityTV sportscaster John Gallagher's memoir has been published by Dundurn Press.

By Danny Gallagher

Canadian Baseball Network

The elevator opened up for John Gallagher.

Leaning in before getting on, he saw a burly security guard posing with two imposing figures. Gallagher couldn't believe his good fortune. In front of him in living daylight were two of baseball's greatest-ever players: Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams.

The scene was July of 1991 at the SkyDome in Toronto, just minutes before the annual all-star game. Gallagher, one of Toronto's most popular if not controversial broadcasters in his heyday, thought this would be a terrific chance to snap a photo of DiMaggio and Williams.

That tale is one of many Gallagher packs in his memoirs just released by Dundurn Press. It's called Big League Babble On: The Misadventures of a Rabble-Rousing Sportscaster and Why He Should Be Dead By Now.

"Here was Joltin' Joe and Teddy Baseball,'' Gallagher said in an interview. "It's like being on the Monty Hall Show and the door opens and you get the grand prize. This was before cell phones and selfies. This was the 50th anniversary of the 1941 season when DiMaggio had his 56-game hitting streak and Williams hit .406. The thing is they didn't talk to each other. They hated each other. You're probably talking DiMaggio and Williams, Pete Rose, Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb as the best in history.''

Gallagher, no relation to this writer, was about to pull out an instamatic camera from inside his coat but the security guard with an MLB logo accompanying DiMaggio and Williams looked inside his coat and said, "Aw, no, you're not taking any photos of them.''

So Gallagher left the camera in his coat, nodded to the security guard and walked away dejectedly. It's one photo he doesn't have in close to a hundred he has had taken with celebrities, not just in sports but entertainment circles.

Gallagher grew up in Montreal, spent considerable time in the Maritimes in the media business and has been in Toronto for decades. He doesn't hide many memories of his time as a morning show host on Q107 Radio and supper-time sportscaster on CITY-TV in Toronto. He dishes salacious stuff on a lot of people. He doesn't mind telling you about his extra-curricular activities, his use of cocaine and his women. He talks about partying hard with Blue Jays folk hero Roberto Alomar. He talks about his time trading jokes with Blue Jays manager Cito (Don't Call Him Clarence) Gaston.

"Robbie Alomar and I used to go out chasing skirts. We'd go out a lot together,'' Gallagher said. "We'd go to his hotel room at the SkyDome many times after games and we'd invite girls up. One time, I convinced him to come on air live and help me co-host the supper-hour sportscast. And he did. I ended up leaning over and grabbing his face and giving him a big kiss and the other stations couldn't believe it.

"In 1994 at spring training, Robbie was telling me he was getting engaged so I convinced him to give me the news and I would announce it on the air on the sportscast. The next day, Robbie came to me and said, 'What did you do? You ruined me. I'm getting all these calls from girlfriends in Toronto.' I told him, 'You said it.' Our relationship kind of cooled after that.''

As for Gallagher's dealings with Gaston, Joe Carter, Dennis Eckersley, Bill Lee, Bob Uecker and other baseball celebrities, we'll let you find that all out in the book. Just for a teaser, though, Gallagher lets it be known that Gaston hated Roger Clemens when the two worked together in 1997.

"He's a complete ass,'' Gaston told Gallagher. "I'd say that right to his face. It's all about him, nobody else but him.''

Read about the time soccer fans wanted to tar and feather Gallagher for criticizing their sport. Of course, most of this superbly written and hilarious book involves Gallagher revealing tidbits about non-sports celebrities, including Tony Curtis, Mark Wahlberg and David Bowie.

Gallagher's book is available at all fine bookstores, at Walmart outlets and many more places. It's 280 pages and costs $23.99. A book not to pass up.