With a name like Big Bird, how can you go wrong?
For New Franklin senior Crayton Gallatin, it was given to him by his peers after wearing a bright yellow sweatshirt and yellow shorts prior to basketball practice.
"They said I looked like Big Bird off of Sesame Street," Gallatin said laughing.
Of course Gallatin was more than just a Big Bird. He was part of the Bulldogs basketball team that finished 27-2 overall, and also played first base for the New Franklin baseball team.
Gallatin said baseball was definitely his favorite sport while at New Franklin.
"Ihave always been a baseball player,"Gallatin said. "Whenever our left-handed pitcher was on the mound I either got put at first or came in as the designated hitter. As for basketball, I never really played until Igot to New Franklin in eighth grade but wound up starting my freshman year."
Gallatin will hang up both his cleats and basketball shoes this fall to attend State Tech in Linn, Missouri, where he will major in fiber optics.
Although Gallatin’s season was cut short in baseball due to COVID-19, he said he was looking for his time to shine in the spring.
"It kind of hurt us all,"Gallatin said. "I was ready to go all out. I played in the fall but I didn’t really want to be there because it was hot, and then when spring rolled around I was like alright, this is my time to shine and we have stuff to do and Ihave to get better."
At 6’-3", Gallatin definitely had the body to play first base. But he also took pride in that position because he said he liked saving people. He said whenever someone would throw the ball in the dirt, it was his job to stop the ball and keep it in front of him.
Gallatin also recalled a game his sophomore year as being one of his best games in his three-year tenure. It was against the New Bloomfield Wildcats and Gallatin ended up going 3-for-3 or 4-4, which he said he couldn’t remember, with a triple in his first at bat and a double in the second. He said he would’ve had two triples but he got thrown out at third.
As for career highlight, he said it was against Brunswick last year in which the Bulldogs won in eight inning. That was the same year that Gallatin was selected to the Central Activities All-Conference team.
As for what he will miss about playing baseball at New Franklin, Gallatin said more than anything he will miss the fans and the pre-game like the batting practice and stretching. He said the team always had a good time.
"Our baseball and basketball fan bases are next to none," Gallatin said. "Whenever they show up to support, they’re supportive. They are not sitting there just watching the game. They are cheering and everything. I am going to miss that and all the support we got from parents and other students."
As for basketball, Gallatin said it wasn’t his favorite sport but he still likes it.
Gallatin also points to Coach Dobson for getting him to play because he never played at Harrisburg. He said Dobson persuaded him to play and he ended up playing in eighth grade.
Of course Gallatin also had several big games in basketball for the Bulldogs. While coming off the bench the last two years on the varsity team, Gallatin said his sophomore year against Slater was his best after scoring 18 points in the JV game.
Gallatin also said it was a no brainer as far as career highlight. He said finishing this past season at 27-2 overall and winning a district title is something he will never forget.
"I’m going to miss what we call the brotherhood because whenever you step on the floor in practice and stuff, you are all one," Gallatin said "It’s a team effort. There is no "I" in team. I’m going to miss that."
As for his career as a whole at New Franklin, Gallatin said he never got in big trouble and never got suspended.
"Iam known as a good kid," Gallatin said. Whenever I started basketball and baseball everybody knew who you were. It wasn’t like, oh, you play basketball and baseball. I also tried to hang out with the nice people.
"New Franklin is a small school and there are some people who are nice and some not so nice, but if you hang out with the right group you are going to be known as a good kid and that’s how Iam with the Dorson’s, Bishop’s, Perkins’ and Dowell’s."
Gallatin also likes playing sports because it takes his mind off things. He said it makes you forget about your schoolwork and stuff that is going on at home. Of course he likes the competition, too.
"One part of me it’s like let’s get your schoolwork done and the other part of me is like we have to beat the other team," Gallatin said.
With graduation scheduled on June 20, Gallatin said deep down he really wanted to have it but it’s gotten to the point where he just wants to get his diploma and let him go. He said it’s been almost a month when graduation was supposed to be and it’s like if they don’t have it the start of May, when are they going to have it."
Gallatin is also keeping himself busy since mid April. He said prior to April, he wasn’t doing very much, but since then he has gotten a job at Grotjans and is working full time.
Gallatin also gives the teachers and staff credit for being there for him over the years. He said they have all been good to him and that if he needed any advice, he would go to a coach or to former superintendent Dr. Haggard.
"Dr. Haggard was always a good superintendent," Gallatin said. "Honestly, I am not ready to move on. I am kind of scared but it is what it is. I guess you have to move on sometime."