Hall of Fame
Hall of Fame
Harvard Athletic Achievements
2-time first team All-American (2004, 2005) … Honorable mention All-American (2003) … Ivy League Rookie of the Year (2003) … Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American (2003) … 2-time first team All-Ivy/EIBL (2004, 2005) … Honorable mention All-Ivy/EIBL (2003) … 3-year letterwinner (2003, 2004, 2005) … Holds record for most homeruns hit in a game (2), and ranks 2nd in most RBIs in a game (7) … Holds record for single-season homeruns (14) and career homeruns (28), and ranks 4th for single-season RBIs (46) … Led team to 2005 Ivy League Championship and an appearance in the 2005 NCAA Tournament
Hall of Fame
Remembering Harvard Athletics
Thank you to the Harvard Varsity Club and the Selection Committee for this honor, it is humbling to enter the Hall of Fame in the company of such accomplished athletes. And more humbling still to join Pete Varney, Ben Crockett, Trey Hendricks, Schuyler Mann, and the thirty-nine other baseball players inducted into the Hall of Fame over the hundred and fifty-eight year history of Crimson Baseball. It is an honor to join your ranks. I wish I could say this was the first time in a while I’m getting the opportunity to relive some of the glory days, but as my son will tell you, I am constantly stealing his reps and swings during our Milton National little league practices – I cannot imagine any of my former teammates are surprised.
I was sixteen years old, when I decided I wanted to go to Harvard. This was out-of-left-field…like, monster seats or citgo sign left field…especially from a kid who, up until that point, wasn't particularly prone to strategic thought or hadn’t yet shown more than a flash of interest in education. But my path to Harvard was paved by the late, great Joe Walsh.
What happened was I met Joe at a fall-ball camp at the beginning of my junior year in high school. He stalked around the field with his burning eyes, those jowls, his boxer’s shoulders and cyclist’s chicken legs...all wildly animated by his sandlot smile…I couldn’t take my eyes off the guy. This streetfighter was the Harvard coach? He spoke to us high school kids at the end of one session, delivering the first of what I would come to recognize as his famous speeches. Many in this room know that Duece had a bull-dog / hot-dog / puppy-dog ranking criteria for his recruits - and he described in that Walshian, staccato tone what each type of dog was. And I was in. All in. I was going to be one of his bull-dogs (like the dragon slayer Frankie Hogan, or Ralphy, or Hal, or Forst, or Major, or Birty, or Larocque). He always told the story of recruiting me a bit differently though, his first impression was: ‘hot-dog’ aftering seeing me all geared up with eye black, an arm sleeve, puka shells, upside-down oaks, and god knows what else those late 90s/early 2000s big leaguers were wearing; his second impression was: ‘puppy-dog’ when he saw on the scouting report that I was an ISL prep school kid from the Back Bay…but I got the check in the ‘bull-dog’ column and my name onto that all-powerful recruiting list when he learned about my Bronx bred back-alley stickball champion father and my St. Ann’s-Neponset Ave parish, OFD mother (that’s “originally from Dorchester” for the uninitiated).
In the eighteen or so months that followed, a lot happened. It ended with an acceptance letter. But in between, Mac logged thousands of phone calls to (i) the baseball office — which Joe quickly started screening to Matt Hyde, (ii) to the admissions office — torturing Fitzy’s assistant and admissions officers, (iii) and to Billy Cleary who couldn’t quite figure out how old Winthrop-by-the-Sea friend Mr. McLaughlin…the Commander…got his number. I got my grades up, took care of business on the standardized tests, and kept hitting baseballs…but without Duece and Grinch and Baby Craig, forget the baseball stuff we're here for, because without them laying it on the line for me I don’t get in. I don’t meet my roommates or teammates. I don’t meet the most impressive person on this earth and marry her. A small handful of people who believed in me catalyzed a life that I shudder to imagine any different. Thank you.
We’re rolling now so let’s start taking care of business:
Thank you to all the coaches and teachers and all those who taught me before I even knew I was being taught...I think specifically about that giant plaque in Fisk Hall that demands "Our Best Today, Better Tomorrow." It is funny how my elementary school's motto imprinted itself on my DNA without my knowledge. Funny also that, after an almost thirty-year hiatus, a couple of my best friends from those days are now a part of my day-to-day life. It’s amazing how influential is the company you keep, even at such a young age. I am so very grateful for the opportunity to see Mr. Vincent frequently and to think about Dexter-Southfield’s motto almost daily as I watch my kids eating breakfast and watching sportscenter in their school uniforms each morning before hustling to get on the bus.
Thank you to my high school coach Uncle Ricky for blindly putting me on your club team when I was fourteen years old because HennDog said I was a good ballplayer; to Knuckles for being the very first one who taught me belief in my bat and arm - I have a bowl of the baseballs on display in Milton that you presented to me at the end of each offseason to commemorate the early morning, winter hitting sessions when the world was still asleep and the late night workouts when everyone else had gone home; to Eddie Bourgeois my first ever BBN coach and guardian angel; to Laurie, Jesse, TButt, McGann, Kathy, OB, C-A and Loftus and the many others from the BBN athletic staff: thank you for teaching me the foundation of this game we love so much at the Buckydome and for showing me what it means “to compete” while playing alongside you all as teammates for the Gately Ram at Morelli Field (and protecting me during the frequent dugout clearing…discussions with the Andre Chiefs and Lexington Blue Sox - I still don’t understand what some of those trash talking words meant…or at least I hope I don’t understand).
Thank you to Mr. O'Donnell, Dean Fitzsimmons, Billy Cleary, and all the coaches, trainers, administrators, and operations folks at Harvard (Deuce, Grinch, Coach D, Chettie, Artie, Alex, Emmo, G-Baby, Quiqs, Stacie, TK, Chuckles, Lister, Gibson…there are so many more): it was an honor to wear the Shield and represent you all. I made it into the record book during my three years at O'Donnell Field but nothing is more sacred to me than the unofficial records set during late nights and early mornings with you, Matty — no baseball player can take hundreds of thousands of swings and ground balls without a counterpart willing to match that energy and effort…and you did it day in and day out. I will treasure those moments of development and breakthrough that only we saw.
Coach Decker, thank you for welcoming me back into the program over the past few years. You are carrying on the traditions of Harvard baseball in a way that would make your predecessor proud and I wish you and the team unparalleled success.
Thank you to my incredible classmates: my Eliot House roommates Mackey, Joe, and Driscoll; my baseball teammates Frank, MoBrown, Byrnesy, Lance, Duke, and Wes; the Harvard/Milton crews Kelley & Dante Balestracci, Lindsay & Pete Scully, Anders & Alisha Johnson; the Harvard/Osterville families: Caroline and Pat Hayes, Natalie and Nate Thorne, KJ and Brian McCafferty, Liz and Mike Fish, and, of course, Laura and Danny Shribman...and there are so many of you that impacted me over the three years (plus the two more falls) in the Square and on the River. It is probably an understatement to say that I was maniacally focused on baseball in those days, thus…not much happened with me or to me off the field, but you all never held it against me. Instead we have found a way back into each other's lives and I am so grateful to have the next fifty-or-so years to make memories together and with our families.
Thank you to my in-laws, TK and Annie-K: Everyone reading this essay should know that you still haven’t recovered from the shock of first meeting your pickup truck driving, future son-in-law. I know you had other expectations when you sent Allie off to that school in Cambridge…well that’s fair enough, because I bet my folks thought the same thing when I introduced them to a cop’s daughter from Belmont! I’ll always appreciate the perfectly cooked steaks from the electric Webber grill on the deck of the condo with a bucket of KFC on the side. I hope I can be as patient with my daughters’ future husbands as you both were with me.
To my parents: Gary and Renee, you two were a far cry from the typical youth sports parents of the day – and today; and the boys and I ended up the better for it. You let me lead you to the athletic fields and off the fields you were always there to fuel me up with a hotdog egg and cheese sandwich (with spicy brown mustard??) or a needed recharge on Squam or at Waterville. Thank you for rarely vetoing the yearly orders from Baseball Express; for sewing those stretchy elastic bands into my baseball pants so they would stay down like the big leaguers; thank you for the innumerable, hours-long car rides to unnamed fields during which we talked tirelessly about baseball situations…or didn’t talk about baseball at all and you told me stories about Ulysses; thank you for your never-ending love and support.
Thank you to my brothers: from those first days on the Fox Run pasture and Wells Field and the Boston Common, we were an infield ready to travel. Josh at first doing his best Big Hurt impression. Sev at second spinning double plays despite wanting to be in center like Kenny Lofton. And Alex at the hot corner like Chipper, playing the D. You guys pushed me more than you know. You were always watching, and I always wanted to exceed your expectations. I am looking forward to another lifetime of inside jokes that we can share with our next generation…lookin at you, my nephew Coley Fish. Never forget to “choose wisely” and that “skiing is the easy part.” I love you guys…“means a lot.”
And here’s where we get real:
To my children: Gavin Galt, Delaney Siobhan, and Madaket Ann, your mother and I dreamed and schemed and talked about you three often in the Eliot and Winthrop House Dorms during the quiet times between games and practices and classes; you three were always our favorite topic.
- Gav – my firstborn, my trailblazer; it was you who reminded me how much I love this game; I am so proud of who you are and thrilled at the prospect of what you have within you to become…but more than anything I look forward to just being father and son, chasing bluefin off Nantucket or chatting on the King Pine quad or simply cooking up some great steaks together.
- Dellie – thank heaven for little girls like you, my darling daughter; you awoke the fire in me again when I first saw your beautiful little face and learned what it was to be a girl-dad. You are sweet as Tupelo Honey.
- Maddie – my feisty and willful baby-girl; wild and beautiful and powerful like the beach you were named after, you are the perfect completion to our family. Right up to the moon and back, little blond hare.
It is the honor and pleasure of my life to be called ‘dad’ by you kids. I got to be a Harvard baseball player for three years…I get to be your dad for my entire life…there isn’t a luckier guy on this earth.
But this is a sports celebration so, here’s the sports message: Never forget that the metaphor is real. Elite effort and attitude, being a fierce competitor and great teammate, chasing your goals and, once reached, reaching higher still. All the things most important between the lines are even more important outside them.
So let’s finish up… but it can’t, however, be all good news and happy words tonight. A lot of the people I have recognized and thanked tonight share a common guilt…you all thought the very same thing when you heard the first rumors of a tall, blonde girl that barged into my life just before the season started sophomore year. You all thought:
- “Who the hell is he smiling at down the first base line?”
- “Zak is letting his girlfriend pick his walkup music?”
- “Why does this kid utterly obsessed with the number 3 have a small 17 sharpied on his glove?”
- “After a promising Freshman year, it looks like it’s the beginning of the end for Zak!”
Well…you were all wrong (except Mackey!…Mackey knew!). Alzey, you had to literally kick your way into my life in front of the Barker Center…and Allison…my best friend…my wife…and you’ve been kicking my butt ever since. This entire essay could be filled with my words for you, but some things are just too sacred to share with the rest of the world. What I will say is that you and I have been together now longer than we haven’t, and you continue to inspire me every single day. And look at what we’ve accomplished. Look at what we have made. Let’s never stop. I love you.
Thank you again to the Varsity Club for this tremendous distinction, congratulations to my fellow inductees, and forever thank you to Harvard University for trusting me to live up to the expectations of being a Harvard student...I will always hold up my end of the bargain.