A piece of New York is gone with the passing of legendary New York Daily News sports writer/cartoonist Bill Gallo.
I remember as a kid getting the Daily News and after looking at the front and back covers, I went straight to Bill's cartoons.
As an adult, I still did.
He made the big, hard city seem soft and that was no easy feat. Whether you were on the subway, the bus, on the street, for just a brief second that noise went away and you had a little bit of serenity when seeing a sport star as a drawing.His cartoons were not the funniest, or the best that were ever drawn, but they were almost always on topic and many times the cartoons were poignant.
Even in today’s society of computer graphics and instant views, Gallo was still with his pencils and his imagination and it was still one of the items I looked for the most in the morning.
Bill Gallo worked for the New York Daily News for 70 years. He published over 15,000 cartoons with the newspaper. That is a number that seems unfathomable. To put it into perspective, if you drew a cartoon every day for the next 40 years, you would still be short of 15,000.
In addition to writing cartoons for the Daily News, he was also one of their boxing editors. In 2001, Gallo was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Many of his cartoons would feature the great fighters of the 20th Century.
He was one of the few links between the present of New York sports with and its glorious past. Every year, before the Veterans Committee of the National Baseball Hall of Fame would vote, he would always put in a request to put in Brooklyn Dodger great and manager of the 1969 World Champion New York Mets, Gil Hodges into the Hall of Fame. Sadly, he never got that wish as Hodges has yet to be voted in by the committee.
His last published cartoon was about the recent royal wedding which included two of Gallo’s cartoon favorites, Yuchie, a young man who wanted to be a Major League Baseball player in New York, Basement Bertha, a woman who always cheered for the underdogs and lovable losers in New York.
Gallo was so much more than a sports cartoonist. After he was hired by the Daily News in 1941, the next year would see him serve as Marine in World War II. His tour of duty would take him to the Pacific and he served combat in the Battle of Iwo Jima. It was a common sight to see a small “Semper Fi” written right under his name.
Many times Gallo would draw about soldiers and he knew from experience that, besides your friends and family, the thing you missed the most about being away from home were the simple things. Things like hanging out at the local bar talking sports or politics, or being able to enjoy the things we take for granted.
His father died of complications to pneumonia when Galo was just 11 years old.
On Father’s Day in 2005, he wrote a very touching column about the loss of his father and how over 70 years later, his father’s day cartoon almost always featured a father and a son having a catch. There is no way anyone can read this column and not get a little emotional.
Bill passed away on May 10, 2011, from pneumonia.
For the rest of my life, I will always pick up the Daily News and look for Bill Gallo’s cartoons and remember that little moment of serenity he brought to me and so many others.