Shelton’s Gallo chronicles local heroes

Chris Gallo grew up dreaming like all boys of summer, that one day he would leave his mark on baseball.

Gallo’s mom Elisa would watch as her son bolted his breakfast and took off for the field across the street to play a pick-up game with neighborhood friends.

They would return en masse for some snacks, only to disappear again to play wiffleball in one yard or the other.

“Growing up in Fairfield was great,” Gallo said. “There was always a game to be played. Depending on whose yard we played in, you could come to bat and make believe you were playing in Yankee Stadium of Fenway Park.”

South Williamsport, home of the Little League World Series, never played a role in those backyard glory days.

Yet, it was a Little League team from Trumbull that piqued Gallo’s interest. Trumbull defeated Taiwan in the 1989 title game, and Gallo, now living in Shelton, rooted them on from afar.

“Four years ago, I was playing a round of golf at Brownson Country Club and afterward I met Tom Galla and we started asking him questions about that season as manager of that team,” Gallo said.

“Later, I asked him why he didn’t write about his experiences and he just raised his hands and shrugged his shoulders.

“I couldn’t stop thinking that this was a story that needed to be told.”

The end result is “Unlikely Champions: The Road to Williamsport and the Biggest Upset in the Little League World Series,” a self-published book that became available on on Aug. 13.

The book tells the story of how the 1989 Trumbull National Little League pulled off the biggest upset when it knocked off a heavily-favored Chinese Taipei team.

It starts with the first day of practice and takes the reader through the entire tournament that ended seven weeks later in Williamsport and a crowd of 40,000 chanting “USA — USA — USA,” as the kids from Trumbull circle the field with the Championship banner.

It then follows the team as it returns home as celebrated champions, is feted at the White House and is featured on national television.

The story continues with how this experience changed the lives of these extraordinary 12 year olds, and follows them as they grow into adults. It ends with them retelling their stories and remembrances of that special summer.

“I began by looking online and catching up on Little League and the history of the World Series,” he said.

“I kept researching and the more I found, the more I knew that this was a story I not only could tell, but should tell.”

Gallo sent out book proposals to various publishers and received either no response or rejections.

Finally, he reached out to literary agent Bob DiFiori of Westport, who contacted Globe Pequot Press, who answered that the expected sale of five to ten thousand copies was too small for them to consider publishing.

Gallo said, “I understood from their standpoint that was small fish, but I was tickled (with the perceived number) and decided to move forward.”

He met with Galla, who gave him access to boxes of newspaper clippings following Trumbull’s march from the District tournament in Bridgeport, through the states, regionals and finally the win in Williamsport.

After visits to the Trumbull Literary Society, a drive to Williamsport to see the spectacle unfold firsthand, and emails to individual players and coaches, the writing process began in earnest.

“My wife Debbie was very understanding,” Gallo said. “Some days there would be a writing block and nothing would come to me and it was frustrating. Other times, I’d be plugging along and things would flow and I’d write until early the next morning.

“The most interesting story came when Tom Galla told me how he had sat the team down on their first day of practice and made it clear that this team not only could go to the World Series, get to Williamsport, but win it.”

Not everyone involved was interested in reliving those days.

“Some of the players were willing to talk about it, others didn’t want to talk about what took place when they were 12 years old,” Gallo said.

“It is a book that couldn’t have been written 25 years ago. It was too fresh, and at that age the players didn’t have the perspective they hold now.

“They couldn’t have expressed what life lessons they had learned.”

Gallo was proud and pleased to have Chris Berman write the forward to his book.

“Chris is a college friend from Brown University,” he said. “I was a student manager on the basketball team and Chris covered the team as a student writer. We were roommates on the road and just connected.”

Galla said, “I’m thrilled that Chris decided to write this book.

“Twenty five years have passed since our unbelievable accomplishment and this is the perfect time to have the book come out.

“The boys are now men and they did a terrific job in verbalizing their memories of 1989, as well as how it affected them in life.

“Since I was an adult when we won, my experience was so much different than it was for the boys. I was living the dream of winning the Little League World Series.

The boys were ‘just playing baseball.’ Now as adults they fully appreciate what a big deal this actually was.

“Chris has captured their feelings and that was the most exciting part of the book for me. My hope is that this book is widely read because it will bring back happy memories.”

Gallo has spent his entire career as a certified public accountant, and in August, 2012 he founded his own consulting firm, Christopher Gallo, CPA, LLC, which specializes in providing litigation support and forensic accounting services, helping entrepreneurs focus on making money, and assisting family-owned businesses in transition.