All of the seven people who lost their lives in Saturday's tragic crane accident in New York City had a unique story. Santino Gallone's intersected with professional baseball for two years.
Gallone, whose body was pulled from the rubble Monday afternoon, was one of six construction workers who perished in the tragedy. He was 37 years old.
When the native of Long Island, N.Y., is laid to rest Friday morning, he will be remembered as a loving husband and father, a trustworthy and highly skilled boss and co-worker and -- by all accounts -- a fanatically dedicated baseball player.
Gallone, called "Santy" by nearly all who knew him, spent 1989-'92 as the starting second baseman for the Fordham College Rams. Known as an unflappable hard-nosed player, he still holds the school records for hits (222), at-bats (601) total bases (354) and most times hit by a pitch (42). He was inducted into the Fordham Athletics Hall of Fame in 2000.
At Fordham, Gallone roomed with teammate Ray Montgomery, who went on to play parts of three Major League seasons with the Houston Astros.
"Santy had that persona, the kind of guy who could just take over a room," recalled Montgomery, who has worked as a scout for the Milwaukee Brewers since retiring as a player in 2001. "He would light up any room he entered. He could make people laugh. He was brash, confident, an Italian from the island, all that good stuff.
"He was an incredibly hard-working kid, and he made our apartment great. He lived and died baseball and was just a damn good ballplayer."
Despite the success he achieved at Fordham, Gallone was not drafted by any Major League clubs. He was eventually signed by Sal Agostinelli, a Philadelphia Phillies scout who now works as the club's international supervisor.
"I first saw Santy at Fordham when his coach, Dan Gallagher, asked me to take a look at him. He was real impressive, a real tough-as-nails-type kid," Agostinelli said. "In 1993, I was working as a Northeast area scout, and Santy had been offered an opportunity with an independent league team up in Sioux Falls. So I said to him, 'Look, go up there, put up some numbers, and when you come back I'll give you a shot.'
"I liked the way he played. He ran a 6.8 60 [-yard dash], swung the bat well, and, like I said, he was tough. If you compared him to a guy in the Majors, it would be somebody like Frank Menechino or Marcus Giles."
Gallone signed on with the Phillies organization after a successful stint in Sioux Falls, and he spent the 1994 season with Class A Spartanburg. Over 100 games (nearly all of which were at second base), he batted .282 with six home runs and 37 RBIs. He was promoted the next year to Class A Advanced Clearwater, where he hit .244 with six homers and 40 RBIs over 93 games. And, true to form, he was hit by a pitch 18 times.
During both the 1994 and 1995 campaigns, Gallone played in the same infield with Scott Rolen of the Toronto Blue Jays. The veteran third baseman, who is now entering his 13th big-league season, was shocked to hear of Gallone's death.
"I feel terribly for his family and friends," Rolen said. "I thoroughly enjoyed the two years we spent together as teammates and friends."
While Rolen made his Major League debut with the Phillies in 1996, Gallone's career sputtered out after the 1995 campaign.
"He dislocated his shoulder diving for a ground ball, and it really affected him," Agostinelli said. "He could never really get it going again after that."
As much as Agostinelli respected the way Gallone played the game of baseball, he had even more respect for the kind of person he was off the field.
"He was such a wonderful guy, just a quality individual, and I can't stress that enough," he said. "It's very upsetting to think that he is no longer with us."
Benjamin Hill is a contributor to MLB.com. Jonathan Mayo is a staff writer and contributed to this story. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.