ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

'Dirty Al' Gallagher willing to get messy as new Dukes manager

There are two sides to everything, and Dirty Al Gallagher -- who identified himself as "Dirty Al" Gallagher -- didn't hesitate to divulge both sides of his nickname.

There are two sides to everything, and Dirty Al Gallagher -- who identified himself as "Dirty Al" Gallagher -- didn't hesitate to divulge both sides of his nickname.
Gallagher was named as the new sheriff in town to try to revive the Duluth-Superior Dukes baseball franchise to the upper reaches of the Northern League, and to try to round up enough Twin Ports area fans to make it a viable operation. As the new manager and director of player procurement, Gallagher replaces Ed Nottle, who saw the team come apart and fall out of contention this past season.
Nottle, it must be pointed out, started off with a young team, and as they struggled early in the season he kept adding and deleting players until the team appeared to be greatly strengthened. With about half the starting lineup altered, the Dukes made a run at the top late in the first half, and appeared ready to challenge Winnipeg for the second half title. Instead, the team struggled, and the struggle was a puzzle that lasted until the second half ended with the Dukes in last place.
Gallagher, the former manager of the Madison Black Wolf, comes into the job knowing the pitfalls of Nottle's plan, which included bringing in a nucleus of players he was familiar with, and at the same time, removing some of the popular players Dukes fans had come to appreciate. Al (Big Papa) Lewis left on his own to try a higher level of ball, after becoming ingrained in the community as a popular slugger and also an assistant coach at Denfeld High School.
The new skipper says he intends to find and keep those kinds of players. But tell us about the nickname "Dirty Al," Dirty Al?
"My way of playing the game was always to play hard, play to win, and it didn't matter if the uniform got a little dirty," said Dirty Al. "Sometimes you have to run through a wall to get things done, and I always believed in doing that."
That's the sanitized, for-general-public-consumption explanation that plays well in speaking to civic groups, or to sixth-grade students, which Dirty Al did as a teacher in his other life. But getting a little dirty with sliding-in dirt, or a little Sheetrock dust from going through a few walls? Is that all there is to it?
"OK," said Dirty Al. "When I played college ball at Santa Clara, I had a 25-game hitting streak, so I said I wasn't going to wash my uniform as long as I kept hitting. That included undergarments. The hitting streak kept going on, and pretty soon I got two or three lockers to myself."
Gallagher, who has himself all cleaned up these days, was asked how and when the fumes of his superstition faded away. Did the hitting streak end and his teammates threw him in the shower, uniform and all?
"No," he said. "I had the 25-game hitting streak, and we had a 25-game winning streak."
As for his current energy, Gallagher is a devoted fan of Northern League baseball.
"There is nothing you can really do to prevent bad attendance except try your best," Gallagher said. "But I just want people to understand, the best thing about Northern League baseball is that it's not like the Major Leagues, where players try to isolate themselves from the fans and the community. It's a great game, with all the atmosphere around it. It's fun, we have activities between innings, and the players are always accessible.
"We've made a commitment to go out into the community, and all I'm asking the people around here is to make a commitment to go to one game next season. If everybody in this area went to just one game next season, we could make it. But we also are convinced that if you go to one game, you'll have a good time and want to come back.
"And right now, I'm trying to locate Anthony Lewis, to see if he'd be interested in coming back to play here."

What To Read Next
The system crashed earlier this month, grounding flights across the U.S.