Mike Gallagher and Andy Fisher journeyed to East Tennessee in similar ways from the Land of 10,000 Lakes and work as the primary radio broadcaster at WBEJ and MiLB.com and data caster for the team, respectively.
Gallagher is from Minneapolis, where he grew up playing baseball, and he played at Division III Augsburg University in his hometown.
“I got to play a lot of high school and college ball at the (Hubert H. Humphrey) Metrodome and at Target Field,” Gallagher said. “Even though it wasn’t necessarily an ideal baseball stadium, it was still a destination stadium for baseball. It was Minnesota’s imperfection.”
Gallagher grew up watching NBC’s Bob Costas call many Chicago Bulls basketball games that showcased Michael Jordan in his prime, and he instantly knew his calling.
“I loved hearing Costas and that iconic voice on television calling the games,” he said. “I knew that not everyone was meant to be a professional athlete, so I knew I wanted to be close to sports. That’s how I really got into broadcasting.”
He took part in internships around the city of Minneapolis, working with the Twins, the Vikings, the University of Minnesota and others to try to get his career off the ground.
Gallagher also had the privilege of being at the Vikings’ final game inside the Metrodome against the Detroit Lions in 2013.
“It was a really sad day because it was a place that I had been coming to since I was a kid,” he said. “They had all the great Minnesota players come out at the end and give it the proper send-off. It was a great experience.”
Gallagher came to East Tennessee two years ago in hopes of receiving a master’s degree and working with East Tennessee State behind the scenes on game day.
“I had heard of ETSU because I always cheered for them in the NCAA basketball tournament when it came around,” he said.
He also wanted to do some broadcasting. Jay Sandos said that he should take some practice for the summer in the Appalachian League and, lo and behold, Gallagher got the job working with the Elizabethton Twins. David Miller at WBEJ was one of the big reasons Gallagher was able to get the job with the Twins.
“I can’t thank Mike Mains, Dave McQueen and everyone involved with the Twins organization enough,” he said. “It’s been great even though it’s a lot of work. I’m calling about 125 games a year in all sports, and it’s what I love.
“Those guys are the reason I’ve had the opportunities I’ve had here.”
Gallagher said that one of his favorite Twins moments was “Game 163” in 2009 against the Detroit Tigers when the Twins won 6-5 in extra innings to win the American League Central Division title.
“That place went nuts,” he said. “That’s the loudest and most full I had ever seen the Metrodome.”
However, his favorite Minnesota sports moment was in January when the Vikings pulled off the “Minneapolis Miracle” against the New Orleans Saints in the divisional round to advance to the NFC Championship.
“When Stefon Diggs caught the ball and ran down the sidelines for the win, it instilled in me that die-hard Minnesota sports fan that had been buried inside for all those years.
“To bring my two corners of the world together for 10 weeks is really an invaluable and memorable experience.”
Fisher is from Hutchinson, which is about an hour from Minneapolis and has a population of just over 14,000 people.
A graduate of Minnesota-Crookston, Fisher got his first job at Bemidji State working with the sports information department.
“I knew that I wanted to be involved in sports because I grew up a sports nut, and I remember a lot of things that people don’t typically remember,” he said.
Fisher is also a lifelong Twins fan and was looking to get out of his comfort zone.
“There was an opening at ETSU for a possible third person in the sports information department because they were getting football back,” Fisher said.
He applied for the job but did not get it as ETSU did not need an additional person on staff.
So Fisher looked elsewhere and found out nearby Lees-McRae College in Banner Elk, North Carolina, was in need of a sports information director. Fisher got the job.
“I’ve enjoyed my time at Lees-McRae and am just glad something else was available,” he said.
On top of being the Cardinals’ official scorer for a season, Fisher is currently the data caster for the Twins. Data casting is inputting all the information for a baseball game in the computer so that people that aren’t at the game can track it via the internet.
“I know I don’t get paid a lot, and that’s fine,” he said. “I get to be involved with baseball for the Twins in a small role. I can tell people when a guy gets to the majors that I saw him when he was just starting out. I can tell people that I remember when the guy was a nobody. That’s what makes it all worthwhile for me. I can see the possible Twins of tomorrow.”
Fisher says that one of his favorite moments for the Twins was when Jim Thome hit the first walk-off home run at the brand new Target Field in 2010 against the Chicago White Sox.
“I remember being in a suite that day and seeing those guys up close because we were so close to the field,” he said. “Those guys were huge, and that place was loud when Thome hit the ball.”
His favorite Minnesota sports moment was the entire 2009 Vikings season, which featured quarterback Brett Favre, formerly of the rival Packers, leading Minnesota to the NFC title game. The Vikings lost in overtime to the Saints, who beat the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLIV.
“I watched that whole thing unfold in the offseason right before my eyes in the summer when the general manager went down to Hattiesburg to get Favre to come,” he said. “That was such a great season, but I still don’t like the Saints because of the bounties they had on Favre.
“It’s pretty cool to watch everything come full circle with working for the Twins. It’s all about fun, and I knew I wanted to be doing something with baseball the entire time. It’s funny how things work out.”