Tony Gallo, a senior first and second baseman for Lehigh’s baseball team, was recently recognized as one of 13 players to make the Preseason All-Patriot League roster as he heads into his final season as a Mountain Hawk.
Gallo has been playing baseball since he was 5 years old and has received plenty of athletic recognition since.
He was named the Collegiate National Baseball Player of the Week and a First Team All-Patriot League selection last year.
“Accolades are always nice, but they are individual,” Gallo said. “I am going to try to think less about individual accolades and more about how I can help the team win.”
Head coach Sean Leary said Gallo’s talent has been present since his arrival at Lehigh.
But it’s Gallo’s extensive leadership skills, Leary said, which have blossomed over the last year.
“This year, Tony (Gallo) has really turned a corner and became a mentor,” Leary said. “The extra work that Tony puts in essentially says, ‘Here’s how you can do it, just follow me.’”
Leary said the team spends a lot of time on holistic maturation of the players — whether it’s community service, leadership or career opportunities.
Outfielder Mike Maguire, Gallo’s friend and a senior on the team, is hoping the combination of Gallo’s talent and the team’s abilities will land the team a Patriot League Championship this year.
Maguire has high hopes for Gallo this season, noting the feeling of security that Gallo provides the team when he is up to bat.
“Tony (Gallo) is able to leverage his talent and his skills to not only elevate his own performance, but to elevate the team’s performance as a whole,” Maguire said. “When he gets up to hit, you have that sense of comfort that you know he is going to come through.”
Maguire said Gallo is also a player who encourages his teammates who are not getting as much playing time as others, which can be crucial for team morale.
Gallo recognizes the importance of focusing more on helping the team and its chances of having a successful postseason over improving himself as a player.
“It’s more than just individual for me at this point,” Gallo said. “I(‘ve) never had the opportunity to play in a Patriot League playoff game.”
A thought continuously weighing heavily on Gallo’s mind is the fact that the team has not qualified for the Patriot League playoffs in three years, and it can be nerve-wracking knowing that this is his final season to clinch a Patriot League championship victory, he said.
Regardless of the team making the playoffs, Gallo encourages his teammates to stay positive and take one step at a time.
“Baseball is the sport of failure,” Gallo said. “So, instead of thinking in the past, you have to look forward to the future. You need to not be thinking of the last mistake you made, but (rather) the next play that you can make.”
The Lehigh baseball team opens its season on Feb. 14 against Davidson.