Tuesday, March 31, 2009
An Interview With Bill Gallo
Bill Gallo of the New York Daily News is a New York sports institution. His cartoons and columns have been part of the fabric of the New York sports scene since 1960. Bill's honors and awards are too numerous to list them all, so here's just a few:
*International Boxing Hall of Fame inductee.
*James J. Walker Award from the Boxing Writers Association.
*Champions Award from the Downtown Athletic Club.
*Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Cartoonist Society.
*20-time recipient of the Page One Journalism Award from the New York Newspaper Guild.
*10-time recipient of the National Cartoonist Society Sports Cartoon Award.
He's also a member of our country's "greatest generation". As a Marine, Bill fought in WWII and saw action at Iwo Jima.
Bill was kind enough to share some of his thoughts with me.
CBLL: Please take me through your typical work day.Bill Gallo: I get up at 7am and listen to Imus in the Morning. I listen to him until I’m finished shaving, then have breakfast with my wife while reading the papers. I continue reading the papers until I get to my office at 10:30. I usually muddle througn the papers some more, look at what press luncheons there are for that particular day (if they suit me for a cartoon idea or column, I attend). Once I'm back in the office, I know what cartoon I’ll be doing. I pencil it in and if I like it, I finish it, give it an overline and send it through for the edition. I then go to other sports functions, take notes and go home.
CBLL: Have your drawings ever offended anyone?
Bill Gallo: Yes, a few athletes have been offended with my drawings. Every time I heard about it, I’d go see the guy who was offended and we’d talk it over. I have never done anything in bad taste, I can say that honestly. Some young players have very thin skins, however, after we’d talk about the cartoon that made them angry, they would usually ask for the original.
CBLL: Did you draw as a child?Bill Gallo: Yes, all people who can draw usually start out very young.
CBLL: What sports figure or character do you most enjoy drawing?
Bill Gallo: I have three all-time favorites. Casey Stengel, Muhammed Ali, and General Von Steingrabber.
CBLL: George Steinbrenner actually likes the General Von Steingrabber character, right?Bill Gallo: Yes, George Steinbrenner loves Steingrabber, just ask him.
CBLL: When was the last time you spoke with George Steinbrenner?
Bill Gallo: I spoke to George last April at the Yankee Welcome Home Dinner. We spoke and he was fine. I hope to see him again at this year's dinner.
CBLL: What's the greatest fight you ever saw?Bill Gallo: Ali vs. Frazier I.
CBLL: Who's your favorite all-time fighter?
Bill Gallo: Sugar Ray Robinson.
CBLL: How do you see the Yankees doing this year?Bill Gallo: I think they will win the pennant, but lose in the World Series.
CBLL: I'm sure you're hoping they lose to the Cardinals, right?
Bill Gallo: Yes, I root for the Cards no matter who they play in the World Series.
CBLL: What made you become a Cardinals fan?
Bill Gallo: I became a Cardinal fan when I was very young after hearing about the ragamuffin gashouse gang. That kind of rough and ready bunch appealed to me. That was in the mid-thirties and I’ve never went to any other team, not even the Yankees, of course, what I’m mostly a fan of is baseball itself.
CBLL: How old were you when you attended your first Major League game?
Bill Gallo: I attended my first game when I was about nine. A gang of us sneaked into the Polo Grounds to see Mel Ott play.
CBLL: In your opinion, who was better, Mantle or Mays?Bill Gallo: I believe Mays was a more complete ballplayer than Mantle.
CBLL: How about a few random questions?Bill Gallo: Sure.
CBLL: Favorite all-time NYC bar?
Bill Gallo: For me, Toots Shoor.
CBLL: Favorite movie?Bill Gallo: All Quiet on the Western Front.
CBLL: Favorite actor?Bill Gallo: Paul Muni.
CBLL: Favorite actress?Bill Gallo: Bette Davis.
CBLL: You mentioned that you're a listener of Imus in the Morning. In your opinion, was his firing justified?Bill Gallo: It's a dicey question to answer. I did feel very bad for the ladies on the Rutgers basketball team, but, you get to know a person when you hear him or her on the radio every day, and I don’t see Imus as a man who would deliberately hurt anyone. Now, I don’t know him personally, having just met him once or twice with a nod and a hello, but my feeling is that he is a good and honorable man. I would not have fired him; suspended him, yes, but not fired him. He did apologize over and over again for his foolish statement (and I’m sure he wants to kick himself in the ass for even thinking about what he said) and after his meeting with the ladies, (as hurt as they were) they were willing to forgive him.In any event, the man is back at the mic, but I’m sure it’s still difficult for him to live this down. To be kind, you can file this one under, “everybody makes mistakes.”
CBLL: You've often written about losing your father at 11 years old, did losing him at such an early age make you a better father?Bill Gallo: Without a doubt, losing my father so young definitely made me a better father.
CBLL: Who is your favorite all-time Yankee?Bill Gallo: Joe DiMaggio.
CBLL: Who's your favorite among the current Yankees?Bill Gallo: Derek Jeter.
CBLL: Now the million dollar question; do you think he needs to move to another position?Bill Gallo: No. Jeter should stay at SS. In my opinion, the guy still has it!