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.
"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.)