MORGANTOWN — Looking back now, Jimmy Galusky remembers those almost daily drives with his uncle Ernie from Masontown to Morgantown when he was 8 years old.
“We’d always stop for Snapple and cookies,” Galusky said.
Those drives ended at Hawley Field, then the baseball home for WVU and the Morgantown Post 2 American Legion team that Ernie Galusky coached.
“I drug him everywhere with us,” said Ernie Galusky, now the Director of Sports at Pro PerformanceRx. “Jimmy was our bat boy. He practiced with us and knew all of the guys.”
The guys included Jedd Gyorko, now the third baseman for the St. Louis Cardinals with 103 home runs under his belt.
It fueled a passion for Jimmy Galusky that helped the kid from Arthurdale become the starting shortstop for his beloved Mountaineers — and now a professional.
Galusky, who started 171 games at shortstop at WVU, while recording 150 hits and 12 home runs, was selected by the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday, in the 20th round of the Major League Baseball draft.
“Really, I’m a small-town kid; even when I first signed to play at WVU, I didn’t really believe that,” Galusky said. “To have an opportunity to play at the next level, it’s all surreal to me at the moment.”
Galusky was one of three Mountaineers taken on the final day of the draft.
Second baseman Kyle Gray — WVU’s leading hitter this season, with a .374 batting average — was selected by the New York Yankees, in the 14th round. Senior pitcher B.J. Myers was taken by the Tampa Bay Rays in the 35th round.
Also, WVU pitcher Michael Grove, a Wheeling native, was selected in the second round Tuesday, by the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Galusky never took his talent for granted. He was not handed scholarship money to play at WVU until his third season, and while he started 171 games, Galusky was redshirted as a freshman.
He continued to work and develop. In the winters, he and Gyorko formed the “Breakfast Club.”
“Jedd likes to work early,” Galusky said. “We’re usually at Pro Performance before 6 a.m. I keep remembering how cold Pro Performance was in the winter. Actually, we still do that in the offseason.”
After the workouts, Gyorko would buy breakfast.
“Because Jedd can afford it,” Ernie Galusky joked.
Jimmy Galusky said he kept an eye on last season’s draft, wondering if his name would be called, but
Even if it had been, Galusky said his mind was set on returning to WVU for his junior season.
This year was different, even though Galusky had the option of returning for his senior season.
“Honestly, it’s maybe more of a gut feeling,” Galusky said. “It’s time for me, I believe. I’m a little older. I’m ready to move on.”
The White Sox are flying him to Scottsdale, Ariz., today for an introduction camp. He believes he may get his minor-league start with the Great Falls (Mont.) Voyagers, the White Sox’s advanced rookie league team in the Pioneer League.
The White Sox, Galusky said, were the first team to contact him Wednesday to inform him they were interested.
“Not long after, the (Washington) Nationals called me, too,” he said. “I really thought I was going to end up with Washington from what they were saying, but then Chicago swooped in and beat them.”
Galusky was the fourth pick of the 20th round, the 588th overall selection.
With the selection of Grove, Galusky, Gray and Myers, the Mountaineers have produced 20 draft picks under head coach Randy Mazey.
“Jimmy is such a mentally tough kid,” Ernie Galusky said. “He played with pressure, you know, of being the local kid playing for his hometown team at WVU. He was the kid from the small town. He took all of that to heart.
“For him to have an opportunity to play professionally, it just shows you how much work he’s put in over his career and how he stayed focused.”