Pete Gallagher, born in 1860 as Pete Galligan, played one game for the Washington Nationals in 1886, filling in because Jack Farrell was too sick to play. Pulled from the Chicago Whitings of the amateur Chicago City League, he made one hit and scored a run in five at bats that day, and never played major league ball again. Despite this less than impressive major-league resume, almost twenty years later at a banquet for the managers of the Chicago Amateur Baseball league, the headliners were Charlie Comiskey, Clark Griffith, Cap Anson, James Callahan (at the time the manager of the Chicago White Sox) … and Pete Gallagher.1 Quite the company for a major-leaguer-for-a-day!
Peter Francis Galligan was born on January 28, 1860, in Chicago, the third child of six for Irish immigrants Thomas Galligan (1830-1866) and Ann Hussey Galligan (1833-1881). His parents were married in Massachusetts in 1856 prior to moving to Chicago by 1857. Pete’s father died in 1866, and Ann was left to raise the family in their home at 194 W. Polk in Chicago. According to a biography of Galligan, written when he became a member of the Illinois State Legislature in the mid-1890s, he attended St. Ignatius College, a Jesuit school on the west side of Chicago, from which Loyola University was later founded.2 By 1876, Pete was working as a tinsmith for the Adams & Westlake, Company, which manufactured items for the railroads. He held this job through 1882.
The earliest reference to Pete and baseball indicates he was playing with the Chicago Browns in 1878 with teammate and longtime friend Jack McQuaid, who would later be an umpire in the National League.3 While there were developing amateur leagues in Chicago during the early 1880s, box scores from these games did not often appear in the papers, making tracking his early career difficult. Complicating this is the fact that he appears in early box scores as both Galligan and Gallagher. Gallagher was the surname on his baptismal record, and also the family name under which his family was identified for the 1870 Census, although in 1860 and 1880 they were identified as Galligan. A player named Gallagan was reported to be a member of the Eckfords, organized in May 1882, along with McQuaid (Jack?) and Ed Brown.4 Two other players from the Eckfords club (Featherstone and Flannagan) later turned up with the Chicago Greens, along with P. Gallagher, registered at the St. Nicholas Hotel in Decatur, Illinois, where the Greens played a series of games at the end of August and start of September 1882.5 In 1883, Gallagher appears in the box scores with the Chicago Unions for a series of games in July.6
In 1882, Pete left Adams & Westlake and took a position in the office of the Clerk of the Probate Court. He stayed at this job for four years, leaving in 1886 to pursue baseball as a career. During this period, he also seems to have gotten married. Grover Peter Galligan was born to Peter and Gussie (Schroeder) Galligan (1868-1934) on July 20, 1886, just months before his father appeared in his only major league game.7,8 At some point, Pete and Gussie separated; Pete is identified as single after his election as a Representative to the Illinois House in 1896.
Galligan’s baseball career (mostly under the name Gallagher by this time) began to manifest itself more clearly in the records in 1886. He started the spring playing with the Chicago Blues (Illinois state champions in 1885) on a trip south in March and April. When the Blues moved to Columbus, Georgia, in the Gulf League, Gallagher went back to Chicago, where he played for the Chicago Whitings in the City League. It was from this team that he was pulled to play in his only major league game. On September 4, 1886, the Washington Nationals were 15-74, in last place in the National League and a whopping 52 games behind the defending NL champion Chicago White Stockings’ 69-24. The Nationals were finishing a three-game series in Chicago, and Jack Farrell was too sick to play. Pete Gallagher was called in to play shortstop against Cap Anson’s powerhouse club. The Nationals lost, 13-6, but Gallagher showed well. In the ninth, he reached base on an error by Anson, and ultimately scored on a triple by Jimmy Knowles. He also managed a single off star John Clarkson. In the field, he teamed up with Sadie Houck and Paul Hines for a double play and finished with one putout and seven assists with no errors.
In 1887, Gallagher was back with the Whitings for most of the season before finishing with Eau Claire, according to the Rockford (Illinois) Daily Register.9 The following spring he trained with Cap Anson’s Chicago White Stockings in Hot Springs, Arkansas,10 before signing to play third base with Minneapolis in the new Western Association in mid-May, but suffered a leg injury in his fifth game on May 25.11. He returned to Chicago to recover; at some point in June Minneapolis released him. On June 19 he played in a single game for the St. Louis Whites, also in the Western Association, less than a week before that club folded. On July 12, he signed with the Chicago Maroons, yet another club in the Western Association, after the Maroons sold two of their best players (Fred Lange and Herman Long) to Kansas City. He finished the season with the Maroons, despite missing some time with an injury. In 20 games overall, he finished the season with just 7 hits in 68 at bats
Gallagher started 1889 with the Whitings, but by early May he had signed with Peoria (Illinois) in the Central Interstate League.12 The Rockford Morning Star reviewed his performance with the club: “Chicago’s low comedy short stop, Pete Gallagher, is playing with the Peoria team, and seems more successful in getting errors than assists. He never could hit anything but the bottle with any degree of effectiveness.”13 Pete was released by Peoria at the end of June. The name Gallagher appears in box scores for various clubs in Chicago in July and August, including a Gallagher appearing at third base for the Butler Brothers against Aurora on July 27, playing alongside the former St. Louis Browns battery of Nate Hudson and Rudy Kemmler.14 In August, he signed with a club in Hurley, Wisconsin. The local paper wrote of the 29-year-old player: “He gives evidence of being a ball player and will probably be all right as soon as he gets broken in.”15
At the age of 30, Gallagher’s baseball career was winding down in 1890. In June he was playing for Garden City in the Chicago City League when he signed with a club in Houghton, Michigan, in the Upper Peninsula League.16 By the end of summer, he was back with Garden City as that club battled the Whitings unsuccessfully for the City League championship. He returned to Garden City in 1891, but likely did not finish the season with them. Statistics published in the Chicago Tribune in September showed Gallagher with a batting average of .120 for the season.17 He moved into umpiring, working for the Indoor Baseball Northwest League over the winter of 1891-1892. He continued to be active in the Chicago baseball scene, turning up in box scores over the next few years for various clubs.
Off the field, Gallagher became active in Chicago government and politics in the early 1890s. In 1894, he was implicated in a scheme in which a group of men were taken from polling place to polling place in Chicago’s Nineteenth Ward to vote under different names during an election in December 1893.18 When he was charged in May 1894, the announcement in the Chicago newspapers read “Galligan, Peter, alias Gallagher…”19 The charges were later dropped after it became clear that a conviction could not be secured. However, it is possible that this incident is what prompted Gallagher to switch back to the use of Galligan as his last name of record, as he was using that name by September 1895, when he received an appointment to serve on a grand jury.20 The county commissioner who appointed him to the grand jury, Thomas McNichols, was later charged with accepting a bribe to influence the grand jury in a murder case — politics in Chicago.21
In November 1896, Galligan ran for and won the position of Illinois state representative for the Fifteenth District as a Democrat under the name Galligan. “P.F. Galligan is Pete Gallagher, the ex-umpire” read cards distributed through the district.22 Gallagher won on the strength of his name recognition and popularity from his baseball career. Bill Lange, star outfielder for the Chicago club at the time, said of him, “I have met a great many of the noted characters of baseball, but for originality, freshness and absurdity I want to claim first place for old Pete Gallagher, whom everybody in Chicago knows. Pete is a wonder… he still plays ball and has a lot of fun out of the game and everybody connected with it.”23
Galligan’s tenure in office was not without controversy. In February 1898 it was reported that he held a position as a police patrolman responsible for vehicle inspections, a job he started in August 1897, after he had been elected to the Illinois Legislature and contrary to the regulations for Chicago police officers regarding second jobs. “Peter F. Gallagher and Peter M. Galligan Are a Strange Man” was the sub-headline over one of the articles describing the dual existence of the legislator and patrolman. 24 The articles seem to have been written more as mud towards the police chief at the time, Joseph Kipley, who was being investigated by the Illinois legislature after a scandal involving the mass firing of Republican police officers the previous year.25
It is not clear how this matter was resolved, but it doesn’t appear to have impacted Galligan’s political career or popularity. He spent several weeks with the Chicago baseball club at the hot springs in West Baden, Indiana, in the spring of 1898. That November, he faced off against incumbent Republican John Morrison for a seat in the State Senate. The day before the election, the Chicago Tribune predicted, “John Morrison expects to defeat Peter Galligan in the Fifteenth.”26 The Inter Ocean wrote, “Galligan, or Gallagher, is as good as beaten now. The decent people of the district, Democrats as well as Republicans, repudiate him. His record is unsavory. He was indicted for election frauds… His election would be a disgrace to every respectable man in the Fifteenth Senatorial district.”27 Galligan won the election by a comfortable margin, tallying 8,358 votes to 6,566 votes for Morrison. In July 1900 he married Linda Hart. The newspapers at the time gave the 40-year-old Galligan a discount on his age, reporting he was 36 to her 26.
In 1902, when there were reports that Chicago Alderman John Powers (his former political sponsor) would challenge him for his seat, Galligan went to the house of his rival and attempted to assault him with a brickbat.28 He ended up not running for re-election, and Powers won the seat in the fall. In July 1902, Galligan joined with a group of local ball players to revive the Whitings, his former City League club. It was announced they would be playing games against other former City League clubs, including the Garden City, another of his former clubs.29
In 1908, Galligan again ran for the office of representative from the now Seventeenth District. The Legislative Voters League, in issuing evaluations of the candidates ahead of the elections, wrote, “This year there will be no delegates and conventions. This is the voters’ chance to nominate their own representatives to succeed the representatives of the bosses.” Galligan was deemed unfit for office by the League.30 The League’s endorsements failed, as only two of the candidates it opposed lost in the elections. Galligan was among the victors. When it came time for him to run again to retain his seat in 1910, the Chicago Tribune wrote, “Peter F. Galligan [representative, Dem.] — Wholly unfit; should be defeated… Understood to vote as ordered by men higher up.”31 As the election approached, the Tribune described him as “Johnny Powers’ man in the legislature… When Galligan went to the legislature he was without money. He came back affluent, much to the surprise of his old friends.”32 Despite the lack of endorsement, Galligan was re-elected to one more term. However, in 1912, when he once again ran for re-election, he was defeated in the party primary. The nail in his coffin was his support for former US Senator William Lorimer. Lorimer was expelled from the Senate after his election was found to be a result of fraud (specifically vote-buying).
Peter Galligan, now working as a laborer, died on May 20, 1917, of peritonitis after a lengthy illness. He was survived by his second wife, Linda, who died in October, 1948, as well as by his previous wife, Gussie, and son Grover (1886 — 1946). After he was elected as a state senator in 1898, the Cincinnati Enquirer had written, “While in baseball [Pete] always had a crowd in front of him listening to his witty sayings, and he could tell a funny story in almost any dialect.”33 This seems to have been part of the secret to his success — that he could connect with people. (The other part might have been his association with the Democratic political machine in Chicago at the time.) Pete was buried at Calvary Cemetery in Evanston, Illinois, just north of Chicago, the city where he spent his life and in support of which he gave his time and energy.
This biography was reviewed by Bill Lamb and Norman Macht and fact-checked by Paul Proia.
US Census data was accessed through Geneology.com and Ancestry.com, and other family information was found at Ancestry.com and FindAGrave.com. Stats and records were collected from Baseball-Reference. Articles cited in this biography were typically accessed through Newspapers.com and/or Geneology.com. St. Louis street directories were found through Ancestry.com. Correspondence with Ellen Skerrett and others at St. Ignatius yielded information about his early life.
1 “Baseball Men to Banquet,” Chicago Tribune, February 25, 1904: 8.
2 Official Directory of the General Assembly of Illinois, 1897, 79. This reference gives Pete’s birthdate as January 20, 1860, but his baptismal record from St. Patrick’s Church in Chicago gives his birth date as January 28, 1860. He was baptized on January 29, 1860. St. Ignatius was unable to confirm Gallagher attended school there.
3 “Jack M’Quaid is Dead,” Chicago Inter Ocean, April 17, 1895: 4. Gallagher was with McQuaid just a few nights before the latter died.
4 “Gossip of the Game,” Chicago Tribune, May 28, 1882: 16. A player named Ed Brown, from Chicago, joined the St. Louis Browns in August 1882.
5 “Personal Mention,” Decatur (Illinois) Republican, August 30, 1882: 3. Gallagher is listed at right field in a box score in the Decatur Herald-Dispatch on September 2, 1882: 1.
6 Gallagher played in a doubleheader on July 4 against the Port Huron Unions, (Chicago Inter Ocean, July 5, 1883: 6), and in a game against East Saginaw on July 7 (Chicago Tribune, July 8, 1883: 7), for example.
7 The record for (Grover) Peter Gallagher’s birth on Ancetsry.com, as well as his obituary in the Chicago Tribune on May 24, 1946, gives his mother’s name as Gussie Mall Galligan, but her father’s name is given elsewhere in the records as Henry Schroeder, and she appears elsewhere in records as Gussie Schroeder Galligan.
8 Grover “Red” Galligan was a bat boy for the Chicago Cubs for ten years under Frank Chance. Grover’s departure for New York (following Chance) made news in Chicago in January 1913 (“Chance Wants Pitcher Carlo,” Chicago Tribune, January 11, 1913: 10.); it is reasonable to believe this was Pete Gallagher’s son. Papers from across the country noted this move over the next month.
9 “Baseball Notes,” Rockford (Illinois) Daily Register, October 1, 1887: 2. Baseball-Reference identifies James Gallagher as playing 19 games with Eau Claire in 1887. Pete Gallagher was last in a box score for the Whitings on September 12, 1887, and he is not in the box score for their game the following weekend (September 19). Gallagher shows up in the box score for Eau Claire in a doubleheader on September 20. I have yet to find confirmation one way or the other for this being Pete or James Gallagher.
10 “All the Chicago Ball Nine Has Reached Hot Springs, Ark.,” Chicago Tribune, March 5, 1888: 3.
11 When Gallagher started at third base for Minneapolis on May 17, he was the sixth player to start at third base in the club’s fourteenth game.
12 “Diamond Dust,” Illinois State Register (Springfield, Illinois), May 9, 1889: 1.
13 “Base Ball Gossip,” Rockford (Illinois) Morning Star, May 26, 1889: 7.
14 “Butler Bros. 6; Aurora 2,” Chicago Inter Ocean, July 28, 1889: 3.
15 “Field Notes,” Gogebic Iron Tribune (Hurley, Wisonsin), August 17, 1889: 5.
16 “City League Notes,” Chicago Tribune, June 15, 1890: 3.
17 “City League Averages,” Chicago Tribune, September 6, 1981?: 5.
18 “Defy the Grand Jury,” Chicago Inter Ocean, May 11, 1894: 7 and “Caught in a Dragnet,” Chicago Tribune, May 11, 1894: 8.
19 “Many Are Indicted,” Chicago Inter Ocean, May 24, 1894: 4.
20 “Republican Grand Jury,” Chicago Chronicle, October 13, 1895: 7.
21 “M’Nichols Is Away,” Chicago Inter Ocean, January 30, 1896: 1.
22 “Scored a Home Run,” Kentucky Post (Covington, Kentucky), November 6, 1896: 4
23 “Pete Demoralized Fort Wayne,” Chicago Daily News, August 5, 1896: 7.
24 “They Does Be One,” Chicago Inter Ocean, February 13, 1898: 8. After publishing two more articles on the story over the next two days, the Inter Ocean dropped it entirely.
26 “Forecasts of the Election,” Chicago Tribune, November 7, 1898: 2.
27 Chicago Inter Ocean, November 7, 1898: 2.
28 “Goes After John Powers Armed With a Brickbat,” Chicago Tribune, May 25, 1902: 1.
29 “Old Whitings Reorganized,” Chicago Tribune, July 31, 1902: 4.
30 “Three Democrats Condemned, Chicago Tribune, July 29, 1908: 3.
31 “Bad Legislators’ Records Exposed,” Chicago Tribune, July 15, 1910: 7.
32 “A Little Light on Some Legislators Who Want To Go Back To Springfield,” Chicago Tribune, September 13, 1910: 5.
33 Cincinnati Enquirer, December 11, 1898: 34.