2001-12-26 / Sports
Ex-Met, Phillie Gallagher opens his own baseball camp
While he was still a teen-ager, Dave Gallagher knew he wanted to be a baseball instructor. But before he could get around to doing it for a living, there was the little matter of his 17-year professional baseball career, that included stops with the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies, before he could get serious about it.
"I signed when I was 19 years old," noted Gallagher, who was the third pick in the first round of the baseball draft by the Oakland A’s in 1980.
Gallagher played his high school baseball in Hamilton, and when he returned home following the baseball season, he ran baseball classes for the township and quickly learned that it was his calling.
Gallagher also learned that there was a right way and a wrong way to run these baseball clinics.
"I quickly saw that there was a better way to do it," he pointed out. "I was the only instructor in the class. If you saw something in someone’s swing, you couldn’t spend 30 seconds with them because you had to look out for what the other kids were doing. Smaller classes is the best way."
Gallagher kept the experience in the back of his mind, and when he was looking for a home for himself and his family, certain criteria had to be met.
"I wanted to be able to have a batting cage in the basement or enough space to build a separate building detached from the house for the batting cage," he recalled.
Gallagher found his perfect home in Millstone with enough land for him to build his batting cage in the back yard. That enabled him to kill two birds with one stone. He could do his off-season workouts there and also provide personal instruction for youngsters. He started providing the personal instruction during the ’94 strike season when he found himself unexpectedly with a lot of time on his hands.
After pro ball (he retired following the 1996 season), Gallagher was a hitting instructor/consultant for the Trenton Thunder. Starting with the 1999 season, he has been the baseball coach at Mercer County Community College. He took Mercer to the junior college World Series in his first year and has built up a rivalry with Brookdale Community College.
All the while, Gallagher was still offering personalized batting instruction at his home to youngsters. By word of mouth, his base kept increasing, and he soon outgrew his home facilities. He needed to expand. Enter Frogbridge, the sprawling day camp in Millstone, that was once Scenic View Acres, a Standardbred horse farm.
"I was looking for a place where I could bring an existing business with a strong clientele in baseball and develop and expand it," Gallagher recalled. "Frogbridge is unmatched in quality and is very successful. I want to be a successful part of a successful place."
In November, Gallagher and Frogbridge reached an agreement, and Dave Gallagher’s All-American Baseball Academy was born. Gallagher turned the existing facilities at Frogbridge into batting and pitching cages. The gymnasium will be used for fielding and base running instruction as well as general fitness. His camp has four heated batting cages, heated pitching cages, a video room for instruction and several outdoor baseball fields.
In addition to himself, Gallagher has a professional staff of instructors and counselors who can provide youngsters with keen insight and advanced techniques into all phases of the game. His camp offers complete all-around baseball and softball instruction. Gallagher has not changed his approach to instructing. Smaller is better. He still emphasizes personal one-on-one instruction and will have no more than four in a class.
"Everyone has a different swing, and in my personalized instruction, I evaluate each player and cater to what their needs are," said Gallagher, who keeps files for reference on everyone he teaches.
Gallagher has a unique approach to instruction. He wants his students to be able to function without him.
"I teach the kids at an early age to not need me," he explained. "I want them to understand their own swing so that under pressure they can make self-adjustments.
That’s where Gallagher brings his 17 years of professional experience to the table. He wants to share all of the knowledge he gained not just through playing the game at the Major League level, but all that he picked up from his coaches and managers along the way. It’s a wealth of knowledge, and he is anxious to share it with a new generation of baseball players and help some of them fulfill their dream of playing in the Major Leagues.
This week, Dec. 29-30, Gallagher will be holding the Frogbridge Winter Baseball Clinic. For further information on the clinic or Gallagher’s All-American Baseball Academy, call (609) 208-1263.