Empting the notebook on Gallardo…
I wrote two stories that are floating this morning about Yovani Gallardo, who so far is doing just fine at the front of the Brewers’ starting rotation, thank you. It’s all but impossible to get that kid to talk about himself, so I made some calls to the people who knew him before he was a Brewer.
In the longer feature story, I asked around about what Gallardo was like as a prospect at Trimble Tech High School, where he was by far the best baseball prospect the school had ever seen. Turns out he was the same guy he is today; humble, steady, intense.
That story turned into a monster so I had to cut out some good stuff about Gallardo’s hitting prowess back then, but Gallardo’s old athletic director, a rival coach and the scout who signed him all remember some mammoth home runs. Trimble Tech didn’t have its own baseball field until Gallardo’s senior season, and the new place had a Green Monster-style, 30-foot wall in left field to protect a parking lot. At the far end of the parking lot was an auto body shop, then Henderson Ave., which led to a hospital.
Here’s where the stories varied. Gerry Magin, the athletic director and football coach, remembers a game in which Gallardo hit a pair of home runs that cleared the wall, bounced through the parking lot and up the street to the hospital. Conley Wendt, a rival coach, said that bus drivers were afraid of Gallardo breaking their windshields so they parked against the auto shop, but one day Gallardo hit a ball on the roof of that building. Gallardo himself said he remembered hitting a homer off a friend from another school, but said it went out to center field.
“He wasn’t necessarily a great hitter,” said Larry Doughty, Milwaukee’s national crosschecker at the time, “but he hits guys’ mistakes. He still does that today.”
One other tidbit that got cut out: Some day, Gallardo might become Trimble Tech’s most famous graduate.
The candidates include former Tennessee Titans defensive tackle Henry Ford, who started 14 games in 2000 for a team that went to the Super Bowl. Or “Rod” Roddy, who for nearly 20 years urged contestants on the CBS game show The Price is Right to, “Come on down!” Or how about Wendell Middlebrooks? He’s well- known in Milwaukee as the Miller High Life delivery guy.
In a sidebar that I used as the preview note for tonight’s game in St. Louis, I wrote about how close the Brewers came to not getting Gallardo in the 2004 Draft. I was told that even Gallardo expected the Texas Rangers to take him, and when Texas passed, the Brewers had to decide between Gallardo and another high school right-hander from Wisconsin’s Door County.
Hope you enjoy both stories. I’m off to St. Louis this morning.