12 February 2018

"A sight I will never forget" - The Sporting Capital featuring Frank Gailey

| Lachlan Roberts
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Frank Gailey in action during the semi-finals of the Australian Baseball League between the Perth Heat and Canberra Cavalry at the Perth Harley Davidson Ballpark. Photographer: James Worsfold – SMP Images.

The Sporting Capital is a new series by Lachlan Roberts, who will sit down and have intimate conversations with Canberra’s sports stars. To start the series off, Lachlan chatted with Canberra Cavalry pitcher Frank Gailey.

The Beginning

Frank Gailey was born and raised in Philadelphia and was a big sports fan. Though he dabbled with other sports, baseball was the sport for him.

“I started playing quite young and played tee-ball when I was 4 years old. My stature pushed me more to baseball because I was always a smaller guy and I didn’t really put on weight until college. When I got to college I was 140 pounds (63 kilos) so you can only imagine how I was when I was 12 or so.”

“I played (American) football for one year when I was 10. I was always a fast guy but I didn’t have much weight and I was bumped around and hit a lot so football wasn’t for me. I love the intensity but I just wasn’t built for it.”

“My parents saw my potential more than I did. They put me in multiple leagues and I got to a certain point when the mental side kicked in, where training meant something and I started to realise that ‘Hey, I can be kinda good at this’. You aren’t just doing it for fun anymore and it starts to become more of a competition and that’s where it kickstarted for me a little bit.”

Through all his teenage years, Frank never stopped playing baseball and just tried his hand at different sports during the offseason. It was always his childhood dream to play professional baseball.

“I remember filling out those things in school where they ask what do you want to be when you grow up and I always put Seattle Mariners player. As a kid, I enjoyed watching Ken Griffey. I just supported the big names in baseball, whoever my idol was at the time. And obviously, as I got older I followed the Phillies a bit more. As I matured I got a little more in tune and knew more about the background of baseball instead of just looking at the best players.”

Coming to Canberra

“Three years ago, Michael Click and Brian Grening were here in Canberra, and they were mentioning that I should try to come and see whats happening over here. And at that point in my life, it wasn’t right for me to come to Australia. And then this year Click and I were teammates in New York for our regular season, and he was like ‘Hey man, we are looking for a left-hand starter, what do you think?’ So I talked to my wife and she was like, ‘Yeah, let’s see what I can do’ because at that point she was at a full-time job but she decided to take a leave for me and so we came here and it all worked out.”

“She has just been amazing” – Frank Gailey and his wife Christina. Photo: Supplied.

Tragedy strikes

“We were very happy with where we were at, Christina was getting her Masters online, we were enjoying Australia, I was having a good season. I was waiting to fly out to Melbourne the next day for the All Stars game, and I get a phone call from her.”

Frank knew something was odd as soon as he heard the ringtone.

“We normally talk to each through wifi so we call each other on Messenger and WhatsApp which has a different ring, so it took me by surprise when I heard my normal cell phone ringtone. I knew something was fishy, I hadn’t heard that ringtone in almost a month and a half. When I answered I was like ‘Hey, you there already?’ I received some of the worst news you can get.”

Christina broke her leg and suffered internal injuries in a car crash as she was on her way to the coast. The car in front of them crossed onto the wrong side of the Kings Highway near Braidwood and collided with two other vehicles including theirs.

“I drove there and that was a sight that I will never forget, seeing her and seeing the scene like that. It is something that I don’t wish on anyone, seeing their wife, their loved one in a situation like that.”

“But if there was anything good to come out of it, it’s the Canberra community. They really came forth and really showed what they were about. They took us in and we had only been here for like a month and a half before that but they brought us in like family. They took care of us and anything we needed they made sure we got. We didn’t know we were going to get that, we weren’t surrounded by our family, in a different country. But they made us feel like we were at home as best as they could.”

“Christina has a long road ahead of her. She is still in the wheelchair with a broken femur. As much as she has been through all that she has been nothing but positive regarding the situation and still a big supporter of baseball. She wants me to go out there and do what I love. She has just been amazing.”

“The only reason I guess the accident didn’t slow me down on the field was the support I kept getting from Christina. No matter how much pain she was in, she was still supporting me, supporting the Cavalry. If I didn’t have her in my corner, who knows where I would be. I love playing baseball but when it is your wife it takes priority.”

Frank Gailey in action during their game 3 of the semi-finals of the Australian Baseball League between the Perth Heat and Canberra Cavalry at the Perth Harley Davidson Ballpark. Photographer: James Worsfold – SMP Images.

Watch Frank Gailey and the Canberra Cavalry take on the Brisbane Bandits in the ABL Championship series game one tonight at MIT Ballpark in Narrabundah starting at 7 pm.

For more information and to buy your tickets to the ABL Championship Series, click here.

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Interesting and informative! Very well written 🙂

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