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Roland Galli’s Batboy

Roland Galli Sr. died last week. I put Mr. Galli up there with Joe Picetti and Len Stefanelli in a particular triad of my dad’s more charismatic pals. He was a sales legend at KGO radio who kept General Manager Mickey Luckoff on his toes, to put it politely. He was a Little League coach whose sense of humor and perspective transcended the other fathers’ poorly concealed needs to see their kids win at all cost. One of my better memories of the man involves him standing up for a teenage umpire who came under pointed attack from the adult coach of the other team.  Mr. Galli politely suggested that the man back down or suffer the placement of a thirty two inch aluminum bat in a highly undesirable location. Like Stefanelli and Picetti, his success in business never translated to losing his sense for people or his ability to stick up for the underdog.

Before I was old enough to play Little League, I was the bat boy for Roland’s team – the Kentfield / Greenbrae minor league Broncos. As with most things, I took the job a little too seriously despite not being on the actual roster. Mr.Galli must have noticed my hyper vigilance and attention to detail in the relatively facile task of running on to the field to retrieve bats and helmets. He frequently referred to me as “the best bat boy” he’d ever seen, and these compliments stuck with me over the years, even more than the encouragement or instruction I got later, while pitching for other coaches. That you were a good kid seemed more important to him than that you were a good athlete.

There are countless tales of Roland’s exploits, many far too colorful to list here. I couldn’t do them justice anyway, knowing only a fraction of them second hand. I was one of the kids, after all, and that I’d always stay that way in these guys’ eyes was strangely comforting. I remember Mr. Galli making that remark – that I was a “good kid” – at a New Year’s Eve party at my parents’ house not too long ago.  I was well into my thirties at the time and couldn’t imagine higher praise. (10.11.07)

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