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Vegas Strong: Opening Day a little more for Rangers Joey Gallo

Vegas Strong: Opening Day a little more for Rangers Joey Gallo

Think back to your best friend growing up. The fun you both shared, the amount of time spent with him or her, and the activities you both enjoyed. You dreamed of success for the two of you, whether it was in separate career areas or the same profession. For Joey Gallo, opening day 2019 against the Cubs signifies more than just his third consecutive opening day start. This year, Joey reunites with an old childhood buddy, Kris Bryant of the Chicago Cubs.

Now, this isn’t some movie plot twist of two long-lost friends who haven’t spoken or seen each other in years. Both the Cubs and Rangers’ facilities are in Arizona (Rangers in Surprise and the Cubs in Mesa) and the two teams meet three times every spring. However, this is the first time that Bryant and Gallo will both meet as big leaguers, in the regular season. In 2016, when these two teams faced at Wrigley, Joey was in AAA with Round Rock. Kris Bryant played all three games in that series in Chicago. However, the Rangers’ slugger is questionable to play after suffering a mild groin strain on March 14th against the Kansas City Royals. In typical Gallo fashion, he responded to Rangers officials with reassurance and a chuckle to confirm he’s good to play on opening day.

Both Bryant and Gallo come from baseball backgrounds. Mike Bryant, Kris’ father, got drafted by the Red Sox in the 1980 June amateur draft. He played for the Elmira Pioneers in 1980 and the Winter Haven Red Sox in 1981. After the 1981 season, he declared his playing career quits and moved to the Las Vegas area. Mike Bryant ascribes the teachings he learned from Red Sox legend and baseball Hall of Famer Ted Williams. Ted was with the Red Sox farmhand when Boston drafted Mike.

Tony Gallo, Joey’s dad, was a flame-throwing lefty.  Tony signed with the Montreal Expos organization in 1974 and pitched in three games for the Gulf Coast League Expos. In fact scouts from the Blue Jays and Yankees came to Joey’s house because they wanted to turn him into a hard-throwing left-handed pitcher like his dad. Needless to say, the call of the bat was stronger than the arm.

Currently, both fathers are baseball instructors. Mike Bryant is a hitting instructor at the Bryant Baseball Academy in the Las Vegas area. In March 2018, Mike wrote a post about how Joey Gallo’s swing is embodying baseball’s new era of hitting. One can say that Joey Gallo is a “pupil” of Mike Bryant with regards to hitting. Meanwhile, Tony Gallo conducted pitching lessons at the Dugout in Las Vegas. Now he’s an instructor at the Vegas Valley’s Batter’s Box located in Henderson, Nevada. Tony was a pitching instructor nearly fifteen years ago at a facility owned by baseball great Jason Giambi. Giambi would later become another mentor for Gallo on his swing, tendencies, and mentality.

In the past and present, both fathers recognized the potential in their young kids. Joey and Kris didn’t play together in Little League due to the age difference (Joey is twenty-five;  Kris is twenty-seven). It was Joey’s older brother, Anthony that would participate on Kris Bryant’s team. Still, Gallo would regularly hang around the squad. Since Tony Gallo and Mike Bryant were coaches of Kris and Anthony’s little league team, Joey would also join in and hit the batting cages consistently on Sunday Mornings.  It manifested not only an enhancement on the game for the two but a friendship that would never be forgotten. Tyler Maun from MiLB.com wrote a fantastic article in 2015 about the rise for both Gallo and Bryant and both their families’ relationships.

In regards to the softer and gentle side of both sons, the fathers’ praise their mothers for that. Tony Gallo discusses how Laura Gallo probably attended more of Joey’s little league games than he did due to his long work hours. Mike Bryant credits Susie Bryant for Kris’ humility and genuineness. Both players attribute each other and their families for their success and journey to the major leagues. During Joey’s debut in 2015, Jim Knox interviewed both Laura and Tony on their son’s success.

The two reunited on the field during the 2014 All-Star Futures Game as both were members of the US team. Both were in the starting lineup as Bryant played at third base and Gallo was the designated hitter. In that game, Joey Gallo blasted a moon shot to right field nearly out of Target Field (predicted by Bryant during pregame). After Joey arrived at the dugout, Kris was one of the first guys to congratulate him.

All of this equals out to the journey of these two MLB stars, and their families. Not only is it a trip down memory lane, but it also paints the future for both Vegas natives. Two years ago in Washington, Joey Gallo and Bryce Harper recreated a photo from back in their early little league days as the two reunited at Nationals Park. On Opening Day 2019, another photo throwback could be in the works. For a rapport that started at least seventeen years ago and ongoing to this day, the friendship you and your childhood friend share could wind up as long-lasting just like Joey Gallo and Kris Bryant.

Staff writer covering the Texas Rangers for Dallas Sports Fanatic | 2014 University of North Texas graduate with a Bachelor's in Radio, Television, and Film. My baseball memory bank is dominated by the Texas Rangers with the other 29 franchises sprinkled in. In addition, I enjoy NFL Sunday afternoons and only the first NCAA tournament weekend.

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