For that he can thank his two brothers, whom Galla describes as "tough kids and great athletes. So Chris was forced to be tough—and great." When he was seven, Chris played on a local hockey team that won an international tournament in Toronto. His current hockey coach, Skip Sather, says, "Chris always thinks he's going to win. He always thinks things are going to work out right."
It remains to be seen if Chris has superior athletic ability. His hockey coach in last year's championship season, Paul Struble, gives a careful appraisal. "I'd say Chris has the talent to play in high school and probably in college," he says. "Then, we'll see."
Indeed, to project any 13-year-old into the NHL or into major league baseball is folly. No wonder his dad, when asked about Chris's athletic future, says, "He may not have one. That doesn't matter. We stress academics around our house. A lot of water has to go over the dam." Marcia is on the same page: "I don't want him to go someplace on his athletic ability where he can't handle it academically."
Some in Trumbull aren't worried about Chris's ability to handle anything. Says Zullo, "Whenever you'd talk to Chris and make a suggestion, he'd say, 'Thank you.' Then he'd go do it. He's a striver. He knows he didn't win these championships by himself. Best of all, behind that nice little smile is a nice little mind. I don't think he's going to have any trouble overcoming this period in his life."
Still, Chris has set high standards for himself. Over the 16 playoff games leading to the title, he had 29 hits in 55 at bats for a smoking .527 average (teammate Ken Martin led Trumbull with a .588). In pitching 41⅔ innings, his ERA was 2.33. When he wasn't on the mound, he played catcher. Says Martin, "It's too bad Chris can't catch himself. He's so heads-up." In truth, as a pitcher, Chris, who moves up to Babe Ruth league next summer, relied primarily on junk, wile and guile. Any baseball future lies in his catching and hitting.
That is, unless his future lies not on the diamond but in the rink. This winter he is playing hockey in an age group one step higher than his age calls for, and he's getting banged around pretty good by older kids not eager for the whippersnapper to make his reputation off them. "I've got to get a lot better," says Chris. "I mean, a lot."
Marcia watches this tougher competition with glee. "He'll learn the hard knocks of life again," she says. "He's getting pushed out of the way. He'll strike out. All this does more than anything to get him back to normal."
Ah, but not too fast, please. After all, Mom, he's just a kid. Sitting at the dining room table one evening recently, Chris was asked whether he ultimately wants to play hockey or baseball. He shrugged and explained, quite properly, that he had no idea. However, when talk turned to the remarkable year that he had enjoyed, he got a faraway look in his eyes and said. "I wish we could do it all over again."