Finally healthy, Gallas enjoying revival at Carolina
Whether he is staring down a 90 mph fastball or raucously rooting for his Cleveland sports teams, Anthony Gallas has always taken things pitch-by-pitch and day-by-day. While his path to greatness hasn’t always been clear, this approach has taken him and his Carolina Mudcats to new heights.
Although it took a few years for Gallas, 26, to find his calling as a baseball player, his love for his hometown of Cleveland started at birth.
“I am a huge Browns fan and the whole city loves the browns,” Gallas explained. “Growing up, I actually liked football better than baseball.”
Standing 6-feet-2 and a sturdy 210 pounds, Gallas may have made a good football player, but nobody could deny his natural talent in the sport of baseball.
“I liked baseball and it was fun,” Gallas said. “I realized I was good at it so I put more attention into it. The reason I decided to play baseball ultimately in college and the pros was because I thought it was my best sport.”
The success of the Indian’s during the nineties caught Gallas’s attention as well and helped him cultivate his passion for America’s greatest past time.
“I loved the Indians growing up,” Gallas recounted. “I loved Manny Ramirez, Jim Thome, and Kenny Lofton; those were my three favorite players. I remember the ’95 World Series when we lost to the Braves, I cried. When they made that last catch I sprinted into my room and cried."
When he wasn’t watching baseball, Gallas was practicing his craft on the diamond at Strongsville High School.
Gallas went on to play college ball at Kent State and had an outstanding career. He finished his senior season hitting .367 with 81 RBI, the second highest single-season total in Kent State history. Gallas holds the Kent State records for most RBI (224), walks (135) and total bases (509), while being tied for the most home runs (49) and second in runs (207).
Despite going undrafted, Gallas remained determined and resilient which earned him a spot in the Indian’s farm system as an undrafted free agent signing and had him following in the footsteps of some of his heroes.
After a strong 2011 campaign with Lake County, Gallas found a home in Zebulon during the 2012 season. He batted .250 and drove in 51 runs with the Mudcats and really felt like he was beginning to find his groove, but a torn labrum derailed any momentum that Gallas had built and kept him out for nearly the entire 2013 season.
“Right before I got hurt, I really felt like I was starting to hit my stride,” said Gallas.
Many players would have allowed frustration to set in, letting the injury defeat them but not Gallas. Patience and a methodical approach paved the way for his comeback.
“I think it had a lot to do with just taking it every day, day by day, and having a plan,” Gallas recalled. “But once I got the surgery, I needed to have a plan to get it right, needed to do all the therapy and I needed to get my strength back and my fast twitch back.”
Gallas spent time in California with his family and went to the Sports Science Lab to receive treatment for his torn labrum.
“They had a machine, the iso-accelerator machine, and I think it’s helped me to get my kick back in my leg," Gallas said. "I think the combination of working smarter mixed with the Sports Science Lab, I think that put me in a position to succeed going into spring training."
The offseason work has certainly paid off for Gallas and the Mudcats in the 2014 season. He is leading the team in home runs (6) and doubles (18) and he is second on the team in RBI (22). His .314 batting average leads the team among batters with at least twenty attempts. Gallas ranks among the league best in nearly every statistical hitting category.
Manager Scooter Tucker is excited for Gallas but not the least bit surprised.
“Anthony has always been an extremely hard worker, very diligent and very dedicated to his routines,” Tucker said. “He’s a physically strong guy; he has what we would call a mechanically sound swing, and just not many flaws.”
Gallas is turning heads outside of the organization as well. He was named Carolina League Player of the Week for the week of May 5-11 after hitting .481 during a seven game road trip.
“He’s swinging the bat well and not trying to do too much," Tucker noted. "It’s fun to see and I hope it continues for him because he’s a guy we all pull for."
The recent success has given Gallas increased confidence that he takes into every at-bat and every pitch.
“It feels good but at the same time I still have a lot to do,” he explained. “Take it pitch to pitch and see what happens.”
This calm and level demeanor has begun to rub off on the rest of the Mudcats clubhouse and has been a driving force behind the team’s success.
Tucker feels that there is a positive effect on everyone involved and hopes that Gallas’s professional approach will be adopted by some of the younger guys.
“The way he goes about his business has an impact on guys,” Tucker stated. “He creates a good chemistry and a good clubhouse.”
But Gallas tells a different story and humbly gives all the credit to his teammates.
“This is one of my favorite teams to be on just because of that attitude that everyone has,” Gallas said. “If my work ethic rubs off on guys, that’s great, but I feel like they are already doing a really good job.”
When asked about the future for his team Gallas responded by saying, “It’s a long season and I learned that my first year. The key is to not get too high or too low.”
The story of Anthony Gallas isn’t necessarily one of a comeback or redemption; but rather, a story of mind over matter. Life as a Cleveland sports fan can be tough and downright painful at times; the wait for a championship can seem like an eternity. The only way to get through it is with heavy doses of determination and patience.
These are characteristics Gallas has carried with him through years as a Browns fan and through the hardship as an injured minor leaguer waiting for his breakout season. As long as Gallas and the Mudcats stay determined and patient, their time will come and hopefully they will find themselves at the top of the Carolina league.
Daniel is a communication and broadcast media major at North Carolina State University.