Remembering a good friend’s good humor
In today’s world of social media and twenty-four hour connection, it didn’t take long for me to hear of Ronnie Gallagher’s passing Friday morning. Although I am 16 years removed from my time with the Piedmont Boll Weevils, I was never really too far away from that time because of Ronnie Gallagher.
From the time I first met Ronnie in 1995 and up until today, Ronnie would always catch up with me and my next sports job or send me photos of his boys and update me on how they have grown. He had the gift of gab, but you never ever wanted to walk away from a conversation with him because it was usually the best part of your day. A conversation with Ronnie always involved opinion, laughter, passion, knowledge and a disdain for people who just didn’t respect others and of course more laughter. That is all you can really ask for in a conversation.
Ronnie was unabashed about his support for the Boll Weevils and truly hoped for their success while keeping his journalistic integrity about the good and bad. He loved coming to Fieldcrest Cannon Stadium and covering the team or searching for a good story. Full house or small crowds, I always looked forward to going into the press box to chat with Ronnie and to make sure he had his customary press box food of chicken fingers and fries. I was finally able to get him to try my ball park diet of a hot dog with nacho cheese on top, which he added to his personal menu.
Through all of this, Ronnie and I became good friends but we maintained the professional relationship that was needed because of our positions. He knew I would be honest with him when asked about a team situation and I knew he would be fair with his writing. Ronnie couldn’t always write about some of our conversations and the fact that those conversations will not happen ever again makes me sad.
As the Salisbury Post became available online several years ago, I always found myself keeping track of what Ronnie was covering and he always seemed to pass along my whereabouts to the readers in Rowan County when he would reflect on first years of the Phillies/Boll Weevils.
I have no doubt that many of the Post readers could write similar commentary about their connection to Ronnie and that is what made him so great. He had a way about him that just made the world a little bit better and with a large dose of humor. Even as sad as I am learning about his death and that he will not get to see Jack play college football, I also type this with a smile on my face and feel lucky to have known Ronnie Gallagher.
Mark Viniard was formerly general manager of the Piedmont Boll Weevils Minor League Baseball team (1995-97). He now lives in White Plains, Md.