Neumann-Goretti’s Gallo shining on both sides of the plate

Photo/Mark Zimmaro
Photo/Mark Zimmaro

Jimmy Gallo knows what buttons to push and when to dial it up to 10.

As catcher of the Neumann-Goretti High School baseball team, Gallo’s easygoing personality can be a calming factor for his battery mate in a tight spot.

“I feel like a lot of guys look up to me,” Gallo said. “I started as a freshman. Things didn’t go my way last year, but a lot of these pitchers look up to me because I was there before.”

Gallo got the call freshman year as Damian Suarez, a junior at the time, was injured. The experienced Suarez returned his senior year last season, which pushed Gallo temporarily to the bench. Prior to this season, Gallo wanted to make sure there was no doubt who would be squatting behind home plate for the Saints.

“I feel like I should have played last year but I didn’t get the opportunity to,” Gallo admitted. “But I’m making the best of it this year. I worked hard. I go to the gym everyday with all these guys. Whatever it takes.”

His coach took notice before a pitch was even thrown this spring.

“He worked super hard in the offseason to make sure that he was our guy again,” Saints coach Nick Nardini said. “Jimmy has done everything we ever asked him to. And he’s been swinging the bat exceptionally well as of late. He’s a guy we lean on.”

Gallo, who lives in the Girard Estates neighborhood, has carried a hot bat into the postseason. He was the Saints’ toughest out on June 5 as he went 3-for-3 with a walk while driving in three runs in Neumann-Goretti’s 9-3 victory over Allentown Central Catholic in the first round of the PIAA Class 3A state tournament. Gallo ignited the offense and made sure things ran smoothly when it was the Saints’ turn to defend.

“He really enforces you and makes you step up,” said junior pitcher Joe Gallagher, who earned his fourth win of the season in a big spot. “Jimmy makes you make big pitches and he calls the game really well. He’s just an overall great leader behind the plate.”

Photo/Mark Zimmaro

It comes with his personality.

“He’s shadily funny,” Nardini said with a smile. “He doesn’t look like it because he’s very serious when he’s on the field. But he’s one of our funnier comedian guys, cracking jokes.” 

And he wasn’t always a catcher. Gallo has been playing baseball “since (he) could walk” and actually got his start as an infielder. He didn’t mind the switch when he was asked.

“I used to play infield when I was younger but my travel coach, Christian Cerone’s dad, made me a catcher. But I like that you’re in every play. When you play in the outfield, things can get a little boring. At catcher, you stay involved.”

And he made his voice known, even when he was learning the ropes during freshman year.

“He’s come a long way,” Nardini said. “In the beginning, as a freshman, maybe he was a little scared to say something as guys on the staff were older than him. But I told him that his voice commands attention and he’s gotten so much better at that. When he speaks, he gets your attention right away.”