Cam Gallagher’s offseason was late in arriving, not that he minded the extra work. In fact, he enjoyed it — for the most part, anyway. More on that later.
You know your career is on the upswing when more work is not only fun, but also educational. And so it has been for Gallagher, the Manheim Township graduate and aspiring catcher for the Kansas City Royals.
After a sixth pro season, highlighted in August by his major-league debut and a .292 batting average for Triple-A Omaha, Gallagher’s employer asked him to log a few more at-bats in the Dominican Republic winter league.
He spent a month with Licey, hitting .288 in 15 games before returning home to Lancaster County just before Thanksgiving.
It was a cultural experience he likely won’t forget, one that also gave him a new slant on his profession.
“I would kind of almost compare it to international soccer, with how they’re yelling at the games,” he said last week. “They’re singing, and people are dancing. … It’s a big atmosphere change compared to the U.S., where you sit there with your family and have a hot dog and watch the game.”
Gallagher also learned that Dominican fans aren’t shy about offering in-game player evaluations.
“Even if it’s in Spanish,” he said, “you can pretty much make out what they’re trying to say. It was really cool. I really enjoyed it.”
There was one drawback. Gallagher tried to play through a stomach ailment, losing 12 pounds and making two hospital visits while missing several games. He said it likely was caused by the local water —not because he drank it (he didn’t), but because he ate vegetables that were washed in it.
All things considered, though, he calls his Dominican stay a positive experience.
“Going into it, I thought, ‘Oh, this will be kind of like the Instructional league,”’ he said. “It was definitely an eye-opener. You can feel the emotion from the Dominican players and…