Big Jim Galloway, also known as Mr. Softball played in 10 ASA National Championships. He hit 74 home runs, drove in 162 runs and batted .554 in those tournaments. He was known as Slow Pitch Softball's Superman.. Jim was the first real superstar in slo-pitch softball. He was the first player where everyone would say there he is or hey that's the guy that hits all of those home runs.
I had a chance to meet Big Jim way back in 1984. I was playing with Steele's Sports at the time. My teammate Ken Loeri and I drove to Levittown, New York for a softball show that Doc Linnehan was putting together. At the time Big Jim was about 55 and I asked him the question how would he liked to be able to hit with todays equipment? His reply was I think I did pretty good with the wooden bats. I saw him play when he was past 50 years of age and he was still a scary hitter. A very big man who was over welming at the plate.
Former Cleveland ASA commisioner Andy Okulovich once told me while he was playing with Swing Inn in the nationals at State Road park Big Jim hit a hard ground ball at him at third base. He got a glove on the ball to slow it down and try and throw Big Jim out at 1st base. But what nobody else could tell was the ball had hit him right in the top of his foot. Needless to say when he came to the dugout his teammates asked him if he was alright? He said what do you think? He then took off his shoe and poured the blood out of the shoe like it was water. They said he could play anywhere on the field. They said he was so powerful that he would get hit a hot grounder at third and backhand the ball across the field to first base like a second baseman throws the ball to the shortstop on a double play ball. He was one of the players where everyone would talk about him
I have an article about Jim Galloway that was wrote in the Cleveland newspaper way back when. The interview was done by
Dan Couglin. It was titled as:
It took Jim Galloway 15 minutes to walk 300 feet from the softball diamond to his team's command post in the parking lot. Enroute he signed autographs for 23 youngsters, two adult men and one woman. He acknowledged congratulations and well wishes from countless people and other players. Some he recognized. Others were strangers who waved or shouted at him. One boy asked him to autograph a softball.
The scene is repeated wherever Galloway plays softball: Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and in particularly on his home grounds of Long Island. It is happening to him this weekend each time he appears at State Road Park in Parma, where his team Long Island County Sports, is defending its championship in the men's national slow pitch tournament.
Galloway has charisma, a term popularized in sports only recently and generally attributed to people such as Hawk Harrelson and Joe Namath. Galloway has made "all-world"the highest honor in softball, four times since playing in his first national tournament in 1963.
You may ask: Who ever heard of a softball player with charisma? Don't scoff. Come out to State Road Park today or tomorrow and witness it for yourself. A perpetually smiling , gracious, intelligent black man on an otherwise all white team, Galloway is acclaimed as the worlds best softball player.
A radio announcer who traveled to the national tournament with the Long Island team said crowds of 1,000 are commonplace at its home field at Jones Beach. He said they come to see Galloway. "He's the man. They love him at Jones Beach. They love him wherever he goes," the radio man said.
A lanky giant of 6" 4" and 235 pounds, his shoulders are wider than Muhammad Ali's. He plays third base like Brooks Robinson and hits like Babe Ruth. If they painted spots at State Road Park to mark the spot where Galloway hit his longest drive as they do in Washington for Frank Howard's boomers they'd have to send a flag pole painter 40 feet up a light pole 280 feet from plate on State Road Park's No. 3 diamond. That's where Galloway clubbed one in the 1967 national tournament here. There are claims that the ball was still rising when it hit the pole.
Some people contend he has hit 400-foot homers. The figure does not sound exaggerated. They still talk about a 400-footer he hit at York, Pa., on Memorial Day this year. A women sitting in the center field bleachers at State Road Park said if a ball came near her, she'd scramble out of the way "unless it was hit by Galloway." Then she would let it hit her, which is like saying Lou Groza is welcome to kick you in the shins or Joe Louis can cave in your rib cage and break your jaw with a left-right body chin combination. At the least.
In the 1966 national tournament at Parma, he hit 11 home runs in 12 tournament games as his team finished second. By comparison, Steve Loya, the catcher for Gene's Sohio who is reputed to be the best home run hitter in Greater Cleveland, slammed 16 homers in 28 games at State Road Park.
If he is such a good hitter, why isn't he in the majors? "I tried out for the Dodgers and Cubs," he revealed. That was a long time ago, of course. He was 22 years old, just graduated from Bluefield State College in his native West Virginia. The Dodgers still were in Brooklyn. "I went out to Ebbetts Field four straight days for tryouts. They cut boys each day, but they told me to come back the next day, Friday. I didn't show up on Friday because I had to take the state test to be a recreation instructor. I figured if I didn't make it in baseball I had to have a job. They don't don't give those tests very often," he explained.
The Chicago Cubs were very interested in making a pitcher out of him. He resembles a young Satchel Paige or Don Newcomb. "The Cubs said they'd send me to the minors. I didn't want to go to the farm," he said. "I wanted a job."
Galloway had seen enough of farms that didn't produce and mines that no longer yielded coal. When the rest of the country was entering an era of opulency. West Virginia, in its own quite way, was falling headlong into a depression. That and integration deprived Galloway of a job back home. "Integration made it tougher to get a job as a teacher," he points out. "When they integrated , they closed a lot of Negro schools. They kept some Negro teachers, but a lot of them retired.
A diminishing population and a merged school system sent Galloway north. He now works as a junior high teacher on Long Island. He runs a recreation center at night and works with problem children. He has a Pied Piper way with youngster. He attracts them and he likes them. He has a disarming manner and they call him "Mr. Galloway."
Those that haven't moved away from West Virginia remember him as a basketball player and baseball player at Bluefield State. He became the first Negro to make the All-West Virginia Athletic Conference in basketball. The pro basketball teams didn't scout small colleges 15 years ago, but Galloway feels he might have had a chance in the pro basketball game today. That's behind him, however, and Galloway doesn't dwell on the past. He's 35 years old and looking only to the future.
"How come you only hit one homer?" asked a youth who had to shout down at Galloway from high in the bleachers after the big man hit only one of his teams 13 homers in its 31 - 3 opening game tournament victory. "I'm saving them for the tougher games," he shouted back cheerily.
"I'll play as long as I can stay healthy," he said. "That may be another 10 years. I've never been out with an injury. I take good care of myself. I never get tired. I can play two, three, four games in a day. All I need is some milk and I'm ready to play again. I don't even need food"
as done by Dan Couglin. It was titled a