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Thurman Munson

RIP, Bill Gallo

The great sports cartoonist Bill Gallo has passed away at the age of 88.

Bill Gallo, treasured cartoonist and columnist for the New York Daily News, passed away Tuesday at the age of 88 due to complications from pneumonia. Gallo, a New York institution, worked for the newspaper for seven decades and was perhaps best known for portraying late Yankees owner George Steinbrenner as a Prussian general.

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He was born in 1922, and he started work as a copy boy for the Daily News shortly after graduating high school. Gallo wound up serving in the Marines during World War II — where he saw action at Iwo Jima — and enrolled at Columbia University upon his stateside return.

Gallo also returned to the Daily News around that time and began making headway in his profession. He told the Associated Press that he dreamed of becoming a reporter like his father, Francisco, a writer and editor at La Prensa. He was also inspired by cartoonist Milton Caniff, who drew “Terry and the Pirates,” his favorite comic strip from youth.

Gallo created his own indelible characters, among them Basement Bertha and Yuchie, who represented downtrodden and devoted fans of the Mets. His most famous character — General Von Steingrabber — poked fun at Steinbrenner for his domineering ways and for his ability to co-opt so much of the newspaper’s sports pages.

Gallo’s cartoons were a must-read for me every day in the Daily News when I was a kid. You can see a sampling of them here. Be sure to go all the way to the end, where you’ll see his tribute to Yankees catcher Thurman Munson the day after Munson’s tragic death. I still get choked up looking at it, more than 30 years later. Rest in peace, Bill Gallo.

Thurman Munson, thirty years later

It was thirty years ago today that New York Yankees catcher and captain Thurman Munson was killed in a plane crash in Canton, Ohio. I was just rereading the post I wrote in 2004 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of his death, and it still chokes me up after all this time. I don’t think I can really add anything to what I wrote before, so go read Moss Klein and this Daily News piece that ran in 04 and is being rerun today about Munson’s final hours and the two men who were in the plane with him and survived the crash. Rest in peace, Thurman Munson.

UPDATE: Here’s Reggie Jackson’s memories of Munson and the crash.