Long-time sportscaster John Gallagher has had close to four decades of hosting some of the top-rated radio and TV shows in Canada and, while he was at it, doing enough drugs to wipe out a small village. Along the way there was plenty of drinking, cavorting, and gallivanting with some of the coolest, biggest, and baddest sports stars and Hollywood celebs around.
In Big League Babble On, John spares no one, not even himself. Read about his nights boozing with the likes of Tony Curtis, Stevie Nicks, Colin Farrell, and Leafs head coach Pat Burns. Find out how partying with Gallagher saved Mark Wahlberg’s life. Or how he once came a little too close to Princess Di. And the time Muhammad Ali stole John’s Penthouse magazine … for the articles.
Gallagher is a pop culture Cuisinart and a walking but mostly talking sports almanac. From hot tubbing with Wendel Clark to his friendship and falling-out with Robbie Alomar, Gallagher has met (and often partied with) all of the greats. This book is your backstage pass.
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About the Author
Read an Excerpt
CityTV loved the cops and the cops loved us. I cannot tell you the number of times I have been let off over the years, after being pulled over by the police, because of who I was and where I worked. I got stopped several times on my way to work in the morning. I’d get out of the car (a complete no-no!) and walk to the cruiser, hoping that they’d recognize me and just wave at me to drive away. The gall, I know. And it worked. Mind you, one time on the PCH in Los Angeles, the CHiPs officers actually pulled out their guns ordering me back in my rent-a-car through their loudspeakers. They tried to nab me for “failure to stay in a carpool lane,” but I weasled my way out. I pulled “The Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer” bit from SNL on the cops, telling them that these new lanes which I actually had never seen “frighten and confuse” me! “I don’t know, because I’m a simple sportscaster from Canada that’s the way I think.” And they bought it.
But most of the time that I saw the lights a flashin’ behind me, it was very late in the evening. On one night, I was with my girlfriend Celeste and was pulled over after speeding up Avenue Road on the way home. As always, I got out of the car for a little of the “old soft shoe” tap dance.
After several minutes, the very nervous Celeste looked in the rear-view mirror and, to her horror, saw the cop and I arm wrestling over the hood of his police cruiser. She then saw the six-foot-five officer win the “feat of strength” easily. He shook my hand and told me to play more soccer highlights on the eleven o’clock sports. Oh yeah, and to stop speeding. “On your way, youngsters!”
Another time, also heading north on Avenue, a cab driver cut into my lane and sideswiped me. (Totally his fault. Even his customer said he’d testify on my behalf.) When I got out of my sports car to argue, I was pulled away by a cop who was immediately (and miraculously, I might add) on the scene. He said, “Johnny, I smell liquor on your breath. Here, come over to the side of the road. Now stand there and I’ll take care of this. Don’t let the cab driver smell the booze on your breath!” But my favourite, by far, took place in the early morning after a TIFF party (the bars are legally open until four a.m. because of the foreign press deadlines) and a cop pulled me over for speeding just about two lights south of where I lived. After a nice chat along the lines of, “Have you been drinking, Mr. Gallagher?” and me replying, “Yes,” he did the most bizarre thing for me. Now, I’m not proud of this. Eternally thankful, yes; proud, no. But after sensing that it was possible I would blow over the limit, he took off his jacket and hat and threw them in the back seat of my car. He then took my sports jacket and put it on, placed my girlfriend in the back of his police car, had his partner get in the driver seat, and then jumped into my BMW convertible and drove me home safely and soundly. He just didn’t want anyone to see that a cop was driving me home. Now, thanks to the fact that I don’t work downtown anymore, and with the advent of Uber and my new love for the TTC subway system, I refuse to get behind the wheel after any amount of drinks. It was incredibly stupid then, and nobody should take these stories as an endorsement of drunk driving, which I may or may not have been doing. I’m just glad I wasn’t given the opportunity to blow into a breathalyzer. After all, I didn’’t want it to tell me, “One at a time, please.”
One day I got called into the big boardroom at City. I had no idea what it was all about. But I entered a room full of cops, including members of the RCMP. The station’s head of security was there, too. If I was getting fired, this seemed like security overkill! Turned out that I, John Gallagher, had been sent a mysterious parcel that may or may not have contained anthrax. A white substance was all over it. The same thing had happened to NBC anchor Tom Brokaw one week after the September 11 terrorist attacks. The anthrax in Brokaw’s package infected his staff. Although my box tested negative for anthrax, no one was taking any chances. No other on-air personality at CityTV, or even in Canada, for that matter, received an anthrax threat. Just me. Hmm, maybe I should start running more soccer highlights.
Table of Contents
- 1. How to Provoke Thousands of Rabid Soccer Fans
- 2. I Should Be Dead by Now
- 3. How Drinking with John Gallagher Saved Mark Wahlberg’s Life
- 4. Hey, Wanna Go to the Playboy Midsummer Night’s Dream Party at Hugh Hefner’s Mansion?
- 5. Karma. I Hate That Bitch.
- 6. I Hope I Die at the Age of Ninety-Nine in Bed After Being Shot in the Back of the Head by a Jealous Boyfriend
- 7. Let’s Talk About Chicks, Man
- 8. Sportscasting: Turning Your Passion into a Profession
- 9. Radio Dazed
- 10. CityTV Everywhere
- 11. So Fleetwood Mac Is Making Another Comeback. Also Making a Comeback: Cocaine, Wife Swapping, and Royalty Cheques
- 12. G.O.A.T.: The Greatest of All Time
- 13. Captain Hairplugs to the Rescue!
- 14. No Longer Destiny’s Doormats
- 15. I Kissed a Man (Robbie Alomar) and I Liked It
- 16. Smugglers’ Blues
- 17. You Can Take the Girl Out of the Trailer Park, but You Can’t Take the What Out of Her Mouth?
- 18. Blue Morning, Blue Day
- 19. Yogi, Teddy Baseball, the Yankee Clipper, Spaceman, and the Duke
- 20. Yes, Mr. Gallagher, Your Net Is Ready
- 21. Killer Instinct
- 22. “Listen, Buddy. If You Say Another Word, I’m Gonna Kick You Out and Drive the Fucking Thing Myself.”
- 23. The Kid Stays in the Picture
- 24. Just. Great.
- 25. Comedy Isn’t Pretty
- 26. Spanning the Globe
- 27. Spring Is Sprung, the Grass Is Riz, I Wonder Where the Blue Jays Is?
- 28. The Prizefight Wasn’t a “10,” But Bo Was
- 29. Champagne Showers and ‘Roid Rage Dreams
- 30. Jurassic Prank: The Early Salad Years of the Toronto Raptors
- 31. All Talk. No Acting.
- 32. (Not Such a) Rock ’n’ Roll Suicide