Bubba Starling feels right at home with friend and teammate Cam Gallagher

Bubba Starling
Bubba Starling

One’s neat. The other’s messy.

“If you walk into his room, it looks like a bomb went off,” Royals catcher Cam Gallagher said jokingly of outfielder Bubba Starling.

“I might not clean up as well as I should after myself, but that’s why he’s there for me,” Starling said.

Gallagher and Starling are just your typical 24-year-old roommates, except for one thing. They play professional baseball.

The Royals drafted the pair in 2011: Starling fifth overall in the first round, and Gallagher in the second round. They have been roommates on and off since then, and they are living together during this year’s spring training.

If there are three things anyone looks for in a roommate, it’s cleanliness, culinary skills and control of the television.

It’s no different for these two.

“I enjoy hanging out with him — being around him,” Starling said. “He cooks some really good food. He cleans up after himself well, and (he’s) just fun to be around.”

Gallagher and Starling appear to be on opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to neatness. Gallagher would classify himself as a bit of a “neat freak.”

“I like everything clean,” Gallagher said. “I try to keep everything clean in the house, but he’ll find a way to mess it up a little bit, but — it’s all right. I mean, I’m used to it.”

Starling on the other hand thinks he’s fairly clean.

“My stuff — it’s clean, but it may be a little messier than his stuff is,” Starling said.

Gallagher: “He’s a little messy, but I mean if you can look past that, he’s not a bad roommate at all.”

Coming home after a long day’s work, there is nothing better than a home-cooked meal. Gallagher said they enjoy cooking upon finishing their days at the ballpark.

Gallagher said he learned to cook nearly a year ago, and Starling is into it as well.

According to Gallagher, he thinks he’s the better chef than Starling.

“I don’t know about that,” Starling said. “No, he’s actually probably the best one in the house.

“He does all the stuff inside, and I try to do some of the stuff on the grill.”

Gallagher: “He’ll call himself the ‘grill master,’ but he knows who the real better chef is. It’s funny he always tells me that I’ll cook and then he’ll clean, but he’ll never end up cleaning. It’s one thing we got to help him get on track with, but other than that it’s been good.”

In any household, there’s often that one person who controls the television remote. In this household, Starling and Gallagher don’t seem to agree on who that person is.

“Usually, I do,” Starling said. “Usually we’ll watch … ‘SportsCenter’ … find a good movie or play some ‘Call of Duty.’”

“He thinks he does,” Gallagher said. “He likes to watch his kind of girly movies sometimes. I mean I’ll put on ‘SportsCenter’ or a good movie every now and then, but he has his fair likes of chick flicks and stuff, so don’t let him fool you.”

Starling said he watches chick flicks here and there. He said he also watched the television show, “The Bachelor,” a few times.

Even though they have their differences, Starling and Gallagher are there for each other as not only roommates but as best friends.

“We have fun when we’re here at the field and when we’re back home,” Gallagher said. “We can talk about anything, whether it’s on-the-field or off-the-field things, and I know that he’d come to me about anything like that. I’d go to him too.”

And sometimes, Starling’s there for Gallagher when he least expects it.

“The other day I was walking back,” Gallagher said. “I got food, and I came back from the parking lot, and he was behind the car and he jumped out and scared me, so it’s about time that I get him back.”

Starling concurred: “I think he’ll get me back at some point.”

With much of their days spent on the baseball field, Starling said they typically go home to relax, cook and hang out. They have two other roommates, Royals minor leaguers Ryan O’Hearn and Corey Toups.

“We just all interact really well,” Starling said. “All of us are buddies not only on the field, but off the field. We get to go out to eat, cook dinner at home, play Xbox, whatever it is — all of us just have a good time.”

Gallagher said they’ve stuck together through many ups and downs. The two have been on the same teams in the minors on and off for the five years since they were drafted. Through baseball, Gallagher and Starling have developed a friendship that goes beyond the game.

“When you’re playing baseball, you’re with him every single day,” Gallagher said. “We know each other pretty well. He’s one of my best friends. It’s obviously a kind of relationship that will carry on for a long time, so it’s nice. He’s a good guy, and I appreciate everything he does.”

Shelby Hyde is a reporter for Cronkite News at Arizona State University