Born: September 20, 1960
Town: Hamilton Square
David Thomas Gallagher was born September 20, 1960 in Trenton and grew up in Hamilton Square. A talented all-around athlete, he was a standout in youth soccer and baseball. He was the star of the local Little League and later the star center fielder for the Steinert High Spartans. One of Dave’s teammates was Chris Pittaro, who went on to star for UNC. Dave’s father had passed away three years earlier and his mother was struggling to make ends meet. In fact, he’d had to quit the soccer team as a senior so he could work a job. He stuck with baseball, however, and led the Spartans to the Central Jersey title as a senior.
Dave figured his baseball career was over after high school, but his girlfriend’s father talked him into attended Mercer County Community College. His mother had moved into a small apartment at this time, so he lived with his older sister and her husband while in school. During fall ball in 1979, Dave caught the eye of scouts and he selected by the Oakland A’s in the January draft. He chose to stay in school and play that spring, and led the Vikings to the JUCO World Series—and was drafted in the secondary draft by the Cleveland Indians.
Dave did not have a high ceiling ability-wise, but he was a clever player who managed to squeeze the most out of his talent on a day-to-day basis. He rose steadily through the Cleveland system and performed well when given an invitation to Spring Training in 1987. He was the team’s last cut, but was recalled when center fielder Brett Butler was injured on Opening Day. He played until Butler’s return and then was traded to the Mariners, who released him at the end of the year.
Dave tried out for the Chicago Whites Sox in 1988. They signed him and started him in Triple-A, but by the end of the year he was Chicago’s everyday center fielder. He batted .303 and finished fifth in Rookie of the Year voting. Dave had another good season in 1989, but lost his job to Lance Johnson in 1990.
Dave finished his big-league career as a utility player for the Orioles, Angels, Mets, Braves and Phillies. He signed a deal with the Indians in 1996 but was cut in Spring Training. Rather than spending another year on the bench, he decided to hang up his spikes. In nine major league seasons he hit .271, including three seasons over .300 and was a superb outfielder, leading AL center fielders in fielding percentage one year.
After retiring, Dave served as a hitting instructor for the Trenton Thunder, coached he Mercer baseball team, and also coached a year of high school ball. He now runs a baseball and softball training facility near his home, in Hamilton. Dave invented a device called the Stride Tutor, which helps batters find consistency in their stride, and also wrote a book called The Little League Hitter’s Journal.