Jun 14, 2017
Posted in: recognition
By James Oloo
This month, the Gordie Howe Fastball Field in Saskatoon was renamed Joe Gallagher Field. Joe Gallagher (June 1932 – March 2016) played and coached softball in Saskatoon for over 50 years. He was the grandfather of Amy Briley, Program Coordinator, Gabriel Dumont Scholarship Foundation.
On April 13, 2016, Bryan Kosteroski, the Chairperson Friends of the Bowl Foundation and submitted a request on behalf of the Foundation to the City of Saskatoon Naming Advisory Committee to rename Gordie Howe Fastball Field to Joe Gallagher Field. The Field is owned by the City of Saskatoon and is located at the Gordie Howe Sports Complex.
The request for name change was granted and on May 17, 2017, Gordie Howe Fastball Field became Joe Gallagher Field.
Gallagher, who passed away last year at age 83, was proud of his Métis heritage. He made a name for himself in Saskatoon having spent over 50 years as a softball player and coach. He also played in the first Canadian Native Fastball Championships as a member of the James Smith First Nation team. At one point, he played alongside both his son and grandson.
In 1964, Joe Gallagher helped raise money to equip the Gordie Howe Fastball Field. He played on the same field for many years.
Gallagher was a man of many talents. He was a musician and an educator. GDI Training and Employment Director Lisa Wilson fondly remembers him as a teacher: “Joe was my cooperating teacher in Native Studies when I did my internship for my bachelor of education degree. He was great at gently teasing students into learning. That was quite a skill.” Gallagher was part of the team that created the first provincial Native Studies curriculum in Saskatchewan.
In a media release, the Saskatoon Amateur Softball Association Communications Director stated that “Like the field newly renamed in his honour, Joe Gallagher was also a big part of local softball history and his name will deservedly live on, along with this field.” CTV Saskatoon (May 11, 2017) described Gallagher as “A man key to [Saskatoon’s] fastball community.”
In a CBC Radio Saskatoon Morning interview, Bryan Kosteroski noted that Gallagher “worked with kids of all ages and adults of all ages … and his wife Vera would sew team uniforms for children who couldn’t afford them.”
The naming of the Fastball Field after Joe Gallagher is a fitting tribute to a man who touched many lives in Saskatoon, a city where he was born. For more information about the Saskatoon Amateur Softball Association please visit http://www.sasasoftball.ca/
Joe Gallagher, right, played for the Saskatoon Centennials in 1967. (Saskatoon Public Library Local History Room/CFQC Photographers Collection)