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Biography & Autobiography Personal Memoirs

Big League Babble On

The Misadventures of a Rabble-Rousing Sportscaster and Why He Should Be Dead By Now

by (author) John Gallagher

Dundurn Press
Initial publish date
Nov 2017
Personal Memoirs, Sports, Rich & Famous
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Nov 2017
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Nov 2017
    List Price

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Veteran radio and television personality John Gallagher’s salacious, voracious, and dangerously delicious memoirs of a life lived on the edge in the midst of some of the world’s biggest celebrities.

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.

About the author

John Gallagher is an award-winning, thirty-year on-air veteran of Canadian television and radio. He worked for fifteen years at Citytv and is the former host of the country's #1 talk show, Gallagher on TSN. A self-described news and pop culture junkie, foodie, music collector, world traveller, and closet wine expert, John has partied with just about every celebrity of note for the past three decades — and has the pictures to prove it. He lives in Toronto.

John Gallagher's profile page

Excerpt: Big League Babble On: The Misadventures of a Rabble-Rousing Sportscaster and Why He Should Be Dead By Now (by (author) John Gallagher)

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.

Editorial Reviews

‘And then, zany antics ensued.’ That cliché was written about John Gallagher. Read Big League Babble On. It's all here.

Steve Anthony, host of CP24 Breakfast

John has been able to vibrantly reflect his roots in Quebec, his Maritime maturation, and his Hogtown polish. Gallagher can be … an obnoxious fool and a great friend all in one paragraph.

Bill Watters, former assistant general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs

It's not a trip to the great White North without banging back a couple of Stolis with my good friend John Gallagher. A Habs fan who loves to bust Boston Bruins fans' balls.

Phil Esposito, former NHL player and coach, and member of the Hockey Hall of Fame

I can honestly say after reading John Gallagher‎'s book that I am greatly surprised he actually lived to write it. So many stories, so many people, and wonderful photographs to document it all. But I can't believe he turned down a chance to go to the Playboy Mansion. That proves he’s crazy. This is sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll. Wow, what a life!

Perry Lefko, author and award-winning columnist

I don't know any prize fighter who retired as the undefeated golden gloves boxing champion anywhere, anytime, and like me, got to ‘dance’ with Ali. I love this kid.

George Chuvalo, five-time Canadian heavyweight champion

A riveting read, brimming with chuckles.

FYI Music News

Refreshing … holds nothing back and pulls no punches.

Toronto Sun

A must read for all sports enthusiasts. Gallagher personifies a cross between a rock star and a sportscasting legend.

Michael Wekerle, venture capitalist and dragon investor on Canada’s Dragons’ Den