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Recreation: Warriors still a proud bunch, 57 years later

BY TAFT COGHILL JR.

Robert Dreistadt was at a retirement party for former Stafford County Commonwealth’s Attorney Daniel Chichester in January when he was struck by a picture in the background.

The 1955 photograph featured Chichester when he was a member of the Stafford Warriors Little League baseball team.

Dreistadt later discovered the Warriors were the first Little League team in Stafford County’s history.

So as the president of the Stafford Baseball League, Dreistadt figured the Warriors were overdue for an honor.

The 16 living members of the Warriors will be celebrated at the SBL’s opening ceremonies Saturday at 10 a.m. at Mountain View High School.

“We’re going to bring that team together one last time,” Dreistadt said.

Dreistadt was impressed that many players on the team later became a “who’s who in Stafford County.”

There’s Chichester and former sheriff Ralph Williams.

There is also ex-chairman of the Stafford Board of Supervisors Togie Payne and future member of the National Softball Hall of Fame and Museum Durward Matherly.

Chichester said the leadership provided by coach Huffy Gallahan, who started the team along with Edgar Williams, helped shape the Warriors’ futures.

“I take a lot of pride in what Huffy Gallahan did,” Chichester said. “I look at what he did as a wonderful thing. It was a great sacrifice for him because he had four children of his own.”

But that didn’t stop Gallahan from driving his players to the Warriors’ games in the Northern Neck area, where he worked as a traveling salesman.

“Being that Stafford didn’t have anything,” Matherly said, “that was quite an opportunity for us.”

The City of Fredericksburg had a Little League program of its own, but Stafford played teams in King George, Tappahannock, Warsaw, Kilmarnock and Montross.

Gallahan, now 88, vividly recalls his team playing a group of older kids in Richmond, as well.

The Warriors were ages 9 to 13, but Gallahan said the Richmond squad had 13 to 16 year olds.

Still, his team walked away with an 8–2 victory. It was one of 16 straight wins for the Warriors, who Gallahan said went 17–2 in their first season.

“We beat the living devil out of that team,” Gallahan said. “Everything I put on worked. It was perfect—like boom, boom, boom.”

Gallahan said the Warriors weren’t an ordinary youth team that simply went out and played. He said they used hand signals, and were required to run plays that he called.

“When I rubbed my hand across my chest and walked toward home plate, that was a bunt signal,” Gallahan said. “They all paid good attention to me. They were good kids, and we had a good time.”

The Warriors are looking to have a good time at their reunion on Saturday, too.

Dreistadt said they’ll be presented some “better quality uniforms” than they wore 57 years ago.

Chichester will speak and will also have first pitch duties.

And in the end, Chichester will hand the ball to the two starting pitchers for the first game of the SBL’s 2012 season.

“Dan is part of the past,” Dreistadt said. “And those two starting pitchers are a part of our future.”

Taft Coghill Jr.: 540/374-5526

tcoghill@freelancestar.com

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