By defeating Venezuela, Puerto Rico won the Little League championship of Latin America and the right to participate in the Little League's World Series last week at Williamsport, Pa. Meanwhile, the Chicago White Sox continued in the thick of the fight for the American League pennant. These two apparently unrelated events represent a very special kind of fulfillment for a certain ex-score-card-salesman and frustrated third baseman named Daniel V. Gallery, a lean and puckish 58-year-old rear admiral of the United States Navy.
For one thing, Admiral Gallery, as commandant of the 10th Naval District and commander of the Caribbean Sea Frontier, with headquarters in San Juan, is responsible for introducing official Little League baseball to Puerto Rico and, for a second thing, he has been trying to root, hex, hoodwink and holler the White Sox into a pennant for 40 years, ever since they won their last one in 1919. It was for the Sox that he sold score cards as a boy; it was for the Sox that he once participated in a scheme to steal signals with a powerful telescope hidden behind the scoreboard; it was in appreciation of his long years of devotion that the Sox presented him with a home plate inscribed: "Stolen by Admiral Dan Gallery at Comiskey Park."
Indeed, baseball has insinuated itself into few lives as thoroughly as into that of Admiral Gallery. This is a considerable feat of penetration, since the admiral's waking moments are crowded not only with the concerns of his command (the first monkeys shot into outer space were recovered by a Navy task force known as Gallery's Outfielders) but with such other demanding interests as a lively and worldwide correspondence, the writing of books, short stories and scientific papers on such subjects as the aerodynamics of the pitched baseball (SI, April 15, 1957), and the sponsorship of one of the most startling musical organizations the U.S. Navy has ever seen. This last is known as a steel band (most of the instruments are old oil casks cut to various sizes), and it is Gallery's personal refinement of a similarly equipped native band he once heard in Trinidad. The Gallery band, which has appeared on Ed Sullivan's television show and at the Brussels World's Fair, is currently on tour in Hawaii.
But in Puerto Rico, Gallery stands first for baseball. The admiral is revered by the hundreds upon hundreds of kids he has brought into the Little Leagues and by their parents and, most especially, by the police and priests who serve the vast slum area of San Juan known as El Fanguito, the Little Mudhole. In cooperation with El Fanguito's pastor and Do√±a Felisa Rincon de Gautier, San Juan's lady mayor, Gallery has been responsible for the organization of seven teams in this underprivileged section of the city. The behavior of the boys from the slums has been exemplary from the start. Admiral Gallery and his associates, as a matter of fact, have had to step in and enforce just one rule in El Fanguito. They had to insist that the boys wear their uniforms only on the day of a game. The kids, unaccustomed to such finery, proudly wore them everywhere every day.
September 6, 1959
"The main object of the Little League program," Admiral Gallery was saying in the living room of his quarters recently, "is to try to make better citizens of the kids and teach them discipline, respect for authority and for the rules. Because of the Latin temperament of the managers and coaches this isn't always easy. They hate like the devil to lose and are apt to behave like hoodlums and set a bad example for the kids when they're losing. The kids automatically follow the example of the grownups. I've seen teams from El Fanguito behave like little gentlemen when they lost because their managers and coaches did. I've seen kids from high-class residential sections behave like Cuban revolutionaries because their managers did. This is a hard thing to control because it's just part of the Latin American temperament."
Admiral Gallery chuckled. "I just remembered something about that," he said. "I was sitting in the stands one day with Do√±a Felisa. Now she's all wrapped up in Little League baseball and would do anything to help it along. Well, anyway, this day there was a rhubarb of some kind and a lot of yammering in Spanish and I turned to Do√±a Felisa and said quite seriously, 'Do you think it would be possible to hold classes and teach these people to cuss in English so I could understand what they're yelling at the umpires?' Do√±a Felisa was a little thrown by that, but she sensed it was a request in behalf of Little League baseball and so, after hesitating just a few seconds, she nodded emphatically and said, 'Admiral, it shall be done!' "
SPREADING THE GOSPEL
It probably could have been done, too, if Do√±a Felisa had put her mind to it, for she has been of inestimable assistance in Admiral Gallery's spreading of the Little League gospel. When he first reported for duty at San Juan there were only eight kid teams playing baseball, and these were without Little League associations. By May 1958, with Do√±a Felisa's help, Admiral Gallery had personally sought out financial backers, increased the number of teams to 16 and had obtained official Little League sanction after making a pilgrimage to Williamsport headquarters. At the opening of the season this year there were 24 official leagues with a total of 100 teams. Twenty of the leagues are concentrated in the San Juan area, which has a population of about half a million, but next year it is expected that every part of the island will be represented.
To this end, Admiral Gallery overlooks no opportunity to win over potential backers of Little League teams. Just before the Latin American playoff he had occasion to fly to Aguadilla on the other end of the island to serve as honorary judge of some outboard races there. A sudden thunderstorm delayed the races and Admiral Gallery seized the opportunity to address his hosts on the subject of organizing and outfitting Little League teams. "I'll come down here and make speeches to any group that's interested any time you say." The hosts were impressed and promised to get to work immediately. Then, it seemed almost on a given cue, a band of strolling players hurried into the pavilion, lined up before Admiral and Mrs. Gallery and played and sang what appeared to be a calypso number especially composed in their honor. The fact that it turned out to be a singing commercial for a local beer did not in any way detract from the warmth of the occasion.
(Another member of the admiral's party at Aguadilla was his 3-year-old granddaughter, Debby Moyer. Debby, as a confidante of the admiral, has acquired a considerable baseball and Navy vocabulary. On the flight down, she had recognized the admiral's Convair as a plane she had flown in before. "This plane," remarked Debby, "blew a jug." The admiral nodded. The plane had, indeed, blown a jug, that is, lost an engine, during Debby's last flight. "Why," she asked her grandfather, "did this plane blow a jug?" The admiral, as he might to an officer of equal rank, replied, "The engine swallowed a valve and began to chew itself up." Debby nodded understandingly and said, "Oh." There were no further questions on that point.)
THE MYSTERIOUS MORGAN
Admiral Gallery finds support for the Little League idea in stranger places than Aguadilla. He has a correspondent, whom he has never met, named Morgan. Morgan writes from various parts of the world to challenge certain published views of the admiral and opens his letters with such remarks as, "You, sir, are a liar and a fraud." Recently Morgan read of Gallery's Little League activities, wrote a hearty endorsement and enclosed a check for $50. "I am forced to make out this check to you personally, sir," he said, "because I do not know where else to send it. However, I am sure that the chances are 3-to-1 that you will put it in your own pocket." Admiral Gallery promptly replied that the odds were worse than that, at least 10-to-1, "but [he wrote] you have brought in a long shot. I am turning the check over to the Little League."
In this letter to the mysterious Morgan, Admiral Gallery wrote a concluding paragraph: "There was once a pirate named Morgan who operated in the waters presently under my command. He left a great many descendants, and I am convinced that you, sir, are one of them."
In a postscript Gallery added: "Morgan the pirate never married."
With even Morgan getting into the baseball act, Admiral Gallery is rarely out of touch with the fortunes of his Little Leagues or of his beloved White Sox. On the evening that the Venezuelan team arrived at San Juan's airport the admiral was on hand early to greet the visitors. While he waited, with members of the championship Caparra team, an aide would present himself from time to time, salute smartly and deliver, in a low voice, what would appear to be a message of a classified nature. However, it turned out, he was communicating the score by innings of a double-header the Sox happened to be playing. A San Juan newspaper once named Gallery El Fanàtico del A√±o (The Fan of the Year).
The Latin American championship, Gallery was distressed to learn shortly after the Venezuela team arrived, was to be decided by a single, "sudden death" game. He considered this to be an unfair test of the teams and especially hard on the visitors who had traveled so far. He put in a telephone call to Little League headquarters at Williamsport and argued vigorously for a two-out-of-three series. But headquarters would not budge an inch.
All that had been forgotten when the day of the big game for the Latin American title arrived. A crowd of 5,000 (larger than the average at the San Juan professional games) turned out, a band played and the first ball was pitched by Do√±a Felisa to Admiral Gallery who—the starch crackling in his white uniform—had to leap high in the air to get it. His agility made it difficult to believe that this was the onetime third baseman who couldn't make the team at St. Ignatius High in Chicago or at the Naval Academy at Annapolis.
Admiral Gallery was shamelessly partisan throughout the game, which turned into an extra-inning thriller, with a long triple by Angel Davila Jr., son of the manager, setting the stage for Puerto Rico's winning run in the last of the seventh. As the crowd swarmed over the field Do√±a Felisa made a pretty speech in Spanish, a man grabbed the microphone and led vivas "for Almirante Gollaree." The admiral, responding, said, "Next stop is Williamsport, where we play for the world championship."
Alas, Puerto Rico's hour of glory was soon behind it. A fast-balling right-hander of the Hamtramck, Mich, team struck out 17 of them at Williamsport, came within one out of a no-hitter to win 5-0.
In commenting on this defeat of his Puerto Rican Little Leaguers, Admiral Gallery (who had flown up to see the game) took refuge in the philosophy that has never failed to sustain him through 40 years of unswerving devotion to the Chicago White Sox. "You can't," he said, "win 'em all."
HAIL TO HAMTRAMCK
If Puerto Rico had its troubles against Hamtramck, Mich, in the Little League World Series last week (it lost 5-0), so did everybody else who played them. And the two principal reasons were Arthur (Pinky) Deras and Gregory Pniewski. Firing in his fast ball at up to 70 mph in the final with Auburn, Calif., Deras, 13, struck out 14 batters and cracked a three-run homer in a six-inning, 12-0 rout. Then, hearty with victory, he scooped up his catcher, the 99-pound Pniewski, who had not only contained his blistering pitches but had driven in four runs as well.