by RIKKILYNN SHIELDS, Editor
Joseph Gallagher, Manhattan College Class of 1949, was one of 11 children– number 7 to be exact– born to Anna and Edward Gallagher. He grew up in Riverdale on Johnson Avenue, and attended both Manhattan Prep and Manhattan College. Five of the Gallagher children attended Manhattan College, including Arthur Gallagher– who, along with Joe, are the only surviving Gallagher siblings.
“My childhood went by in a hurry– marked by lots of hand-me-downs, plenty of sports games, hikes in the very rural part of the Bronx, fishing and crabbing in the Hudson, always plenty of food and frequent trips down through Ewen Park to 231st St. and stops at Grandpa Brennan’s on Corlear Ave., or maybe to Broadway for ice cream at Luhr’s, or a movie at the Marble Hill Theatre. My childhood was competitive, a little bit with my closest older brother and more intense with my neighbors. Mostly, we were pals and time moved quickly.” Gallagher said.
Gallagher attended St. Gabriel’s parish, which was formed in 1939. The first three years of Mass were celebrated at the Manhattan College Chapel.
“As a kid, I attended Manhattan College baseball games on Jasper Field, now occupied by Draddy Field House. In the ‘30s, Manhattan consistently was the best or among the very best in the East. Several Manhattan stars of the ‘30s made it to the major leagues, the most celebrated being Buddy Hassett ’33 who played for the Boston Bees (later the Braves), Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Yankees in 1942 before entering the U.S. Navy. We admired the Manhattan baseball team and all of the players. Manhattan College has been a part of my life from the beginning. The Christian Brothers were very community oriented. Us kids were invited to play our baseball games on Jasper Field, to run of the cinder track and frequently to use the indoor swimming pool and showers. We belonged. My blood had turned Kelly Green.” Gallagher said.
Before graduating from PS 7, Gallagher received a half scholarship to attend Fordham Prep, however, his heart was set on Manhattan Prep. Gallagher’s father, Edward, went to the brothers and explained the situation. Manhattan Prep offered him half scholarship, and ultimately, Gallagher chose to attend Manhattan Prep.
“My teacher at PS 7 who prepared me for the Fordham Prep exam was so irritated with me when I chose Manhattan. She said, ‘Why don’t you just go to Yale?’” Gallagher said.
At the end of Gallagher’s first week at Manhattan Prep, his father, a Bronx Borough Clerk and Democratic Leader of the North Bronx, suddenly passed away. Gallagher was off to school the next morning, essentially preparing to tell the brothers and the principle that he would be unable to attend the school.
“They told me, ‘Let us worry about it.’ The brothers found me a job to pay for my tuition, and for 4-5 years, I was the switchboard operator for the college. I worked weekends and some evenings, and ultimately, they paid for my tuition.” Gallagher said, “In a sense, I was part of a family.”
n 1945, Gallagher was invited to Spring training by the New York Giants baseball team.
“I was only 17 at the time. I thought I was pretty good, but I didn’t measure up for the Giants–I was more of a contact hitter, and they were looking for guys who could hit the ball a long way, and I didn’t do that. I hit the ball– but they were looking for home run hitters.”
After having his tryout, Gallagher realized that baseball wasn’t his career, so he considered getting involved in the newspaper industry. After entering Manhattan College’s
school of business, with a law career in mind, Gallagher jointed the Quadrangle.
“My junior year, I became the sports editor– I was probably the only one applying for it at the time. Then, I went into the army, and when I came back, all of the veterans were also back as well, and the school had grown to 3,000 or 4000 students. That’s when I became the co-sports editor with Bill Miller. It was great to work with him. I had a year of that, and it was a learning experience. At the end of that year, the editor-in-chief at the time became the editor of the yearbook, and couldn’t handle both, so they called for a new editor– he pushed for me because primarily, I took control of putting the paper together, and that is essential. Being a writer is one thing, but you still have to put the paper together, so I became the editor-in-chief. I wrote a column every week and gave assignments and managed the staff and we put out a pretty good paper.”
Gallagher worked for a year as the correspondent for the New York Times and the New York Herald Tribune. When Gallagher became the editor, his brother Dan worked as sports editor. Gallagher then became the editor of the sports section of the class of ’49 yearbook.
“I was happy to assume the responsibility of the editor of the paper. It was a challenging assignment, trying to write an interesting column every week, and I didn’t avoid controversy, which got me in hot water a few times, but I got through. And then of course one of the big challenges was, every Monday, I had to go to the print shop in lower Manhattan and it was kind of a dreary neighborhood.”
Working as both the sports editor, and the editor-in-chief of The Quadrangle increased Gallagher’s ambition and desire to work in the media and newspaper business. His work on The Quadrangle and his time at Manhattan College kicked off his lengthy and distinguished career in the television sports business.
“My position with The Quadrangle was very important for my career afterwards. In January ’49, Manhattan’s basketball team scored a tremendous upset when they beat West Virginia. Everyone celebrated, and the next day at noon, they canceled classes and we had a pep rally. At the pep rally, Don Dunphy, television and radio sports announcer and Manhattan College graduate, spoke. He was class of ’30, and had a distinguished career as a sports broadcaster. His main sport was boxing, and he was selected in 1999 as the greatest boxing announcer of the century, but he also did baseball, college football, and basketball– but boxing was his main reputation.” Gallagher said.
When the pep rally ended, Gallagher made a point to talk to Dunphy. A few weeks later, he spoke to Dunphy again at the Saint Gabriel’s Communion Breakfast. Just before baseball season began, Dunphy called Gallagher and said that he was working on The Yankees pre/post game shows for WINS Radio, and needed someone to help him with writing and keeping up with the scoreboard.
“He asked if I was interested and I said, ‘Well, yes!’” Gallagher said enthusiastically. “The pay was very low, it was $25 a week, and my response was, ‘Do you pay me, or do I pay you?’ and that was the beginning of my career in radio.” Gallagher said.
Gallagher worked with Dunphy for a few years, however when there was an opening for the New York Yankees broadcast, he was hired as a statistician for Mel Allen from 1951-1954. He started working the same day as both Mickey Mantle and Bob Shepard.
“In ‘54, Red Barber announced for the Dodgers, but ended up being hired by the Yankees. He liked my work, and was also the director of Sports at CBS. In August of the ’54 season, he said there was no future in being a scorekeeper. I told him I had been waiting for the right opportunity, and he said ‘I think I have it for you’” Gallagher said.
Gallagher was then hired at CBS Sports, and they were just beginning to get into television on a network bases. Gallagher was in on a ground floor. He was hired as a producer, and worked handling the Major League Baseball game of the week, along with NFL and College Football games. Gallagher was also one of the early pioneers of instant replay in the early 1960’s.
“I became one of the top sports producers at CBS, and in 1962 when the Mets started, I was offered a position to produce the Mets TV and radio, and I accepted that because that was big. Even though they were a bad team at the time, they were very popular. New York had been insulted when the Dodgers and the Giants moved to the west coast, and they were delighted to have a team back, so they embraced the Mets. I did that for 4 years, then NBC made me an offer, which I accepted. As mush as I liked the 4 years and considered that the best 4 years of my career, when you’re working with a baseball team, you’re away half of the time and when you’re home, you’re still not at home.” Gallagher said.
Gallagher was the first producer for the NY Mets broadcasts on WOR from 1962-1966. In the late 1960’s, he moved to NBC Sports, and worked producing NFL, MLB, NHL and college basketball games.
“During the NBC era, I produced the ECAC Basketball Column of the Week.
I did games in New York, Boston, Providence, Philly, and Pittsburgh. This was an important series that indirectly, led me to my relationship with Syracuse.”
Following his career at NBC, in 1977, Gallagher became an Assistant Athletic Director at Syracuse University, in charge of gaining exposure for Syracuse on television and radio. Gallagher worked with Syracuse University for about 4 years. He also helped arrange the building of the Carrier Dome in 1980.
“When my goals had been accomplished, I left and joined a new radio sports network audit, but it didn’t make it so I scrambled, and ended up in Houston where I was director of sports at a radio station.”
Gallagher worked as the executive producer for Enterprise Radio, which was founded in 1981 as the country’s first all sports radio network. This station became the model for ESPN Radio. In this sense, Gallagher was way ahead of his time.
In 1984, Gallagher was a director for ABC and was awarded an Emmy for his role in broadcasting the Olympic Summer Games in Los Angeles. Along with his many other accomplishments, Gallagher also served as PR Director for the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1985-1986.
In late 1999, Gallagher and his wife, Carol, a Tennessee native, decided to cash it in to essentially retire in Louisville. However, Gallagher managed to handle the press relations for the Knoxville Smokies in the early 2000’s.
“I’ve had a very, what I’d consider, high profile and very successful TV/ Sports Career. And Manhattan College has always been very important to me in anything I do.” Gallagher said.” Gallagher said.
In everything Gallagher did, he tried to keep Manhattan College in mind. Gallagher, who was one of the forerunners for arranging the broadcast of college basketball, oversaw the production of Manhattan’s basketball game with South Carolina in 1974 while arranging for Brother Leo to be the featured halftime guest.
Gallagher served for a few years on the Alumni Advisory Committee, and worked with the committee and the Athletic Hall of Fame to essentially promote the establishment of the Hall of Fame for Manhattan athletes.
“Coming back to Manhattan is like my homecoming. I always love walking up the stairs onto the Quadrangle, next to the chapel, or simply just being there.” Gallagher said.
Coming into Manhattan College’s Business School, while Gallagher is grateful for the education he received and the relationships he built, he believes that the Quadrangle is what led him to having such a successful career in the sports media industry.
“Ultimately, my education was the Quadrangle.” Gallagher said.
Gallagher, otherwise considered to be, in a sense, the mastermind behind Manhattan’s Hall of Fame, was recently inducted into the Manhattan College Athletic Hall of Fame.
Gallagher has maintained a close relationship to Manhattan College athletics his entire life, and remained good friends with former Manhattan College Basketball Coach and Athletic Director Jack Powers. Gallagher has six children, 11 grand children, and 4 great grand children.
“If you want to do it, I say do it. If you apply yourself, opportunities will happen and good things will happen as well.” Gallagher said.