Sal Maglie Stadium
Sal Maglie Stadium in Niagara Falls, New York is the home field for the Niagara Power Baseball Team. It was built in 1939, closed in 1995 and demolished in 1999 to be rebuilt into what it is today. Below is a history of the player that the stadium was named after, Sal Maglie, who was a native of Niagara Falls.
History of Sal Maglie
Doug Smith, Niagara Gazette
The man for whom the Power’s park is named, ruled major league mounds in the early 1950’s. The Niagara Falls native, educated at Niagara University, went 59-18 in 1950-52. Sal Maglie’s magic moments followed his banishment from the game for “jumping” to a Mexican League in 1947. Rather than let courts decide the legality of its “reserve clause,” tying a player to the team with which he signed, baseball forgave Maglie and others. Today’s multi-millionaire “free agents” owe Sal’s spirit a thank you. And on the field, Maglie was a major player in two of the greatest of games.
On Oct. 3, 1951, Maglie started for the New York Giants against the visiting Brooklyn Dodgers with the National League championship on the line. He trailed 4-1 in the eighth when manager Leo Durocher lifted him for pinch-hitter Hank Thompson, who flied out. Larry Jansen blanked the Brooks in the ninth and as the Giants came to bat in the ninth, Maglie stood to get the loss. Ten minutes later, Bobby Thomson lined the three-run “Shot Heard ‘round the World” into the sixth row of the left field stands. Announcer Russ Hodges voiced a mantra for the ages: “The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!” Encryption experts have noted Hodges’ cadence and compared his words with World War II codebooks. They deciphered his words as: “Sal Maglie’s off the hook now! Sal Maglie’s off the hook now!” (This theory has not yet gained wide acceptance.)
Five years later, Maglie, then 39, started Game Five of the World Series for the Dodgers in Yankee Stadium. He held the Yanks to five hits and, belying his .135 lifetime BA, lashed a liner to center in the third. Mickey Mantle snagged it to end the inning. Mantle then led off the fourth with a home run. After the Yanks manufactured another run, Maglie struck out in the sixth. In the ninth, Dale Mitchell pinch hit for him and was called out on a third strike barely within the city limits, completing Don Larsen’s perfect game, the only no-hitter in World Series history. The game’s enduring image is a still photograph of catcher Yogi Berra leaping into Larsen’s arms. Recently, lip-readers have analyzed amateur movie footage of this moment and translated this dialogue: Larsen – “Maglie pitched a terrific game.” Berra – “Yeah, if he hadn’t lost, he’d have won.” This, too, is looked on skeptically by baseball traditionalists.
Maglie would retire two years later with 119 wins and 62 losses. He played for all three teams then in New York, plus Cleveland and St. Louis. His penchant for pitching high and tight earned him the nickname “The Barber.” His biography “Close Shave” repeatedly describes his pitches as “vicious.” For the record, Maglie faced 7,182 major-league batters and hit 44 of them, one out of every 168. Roger Clemens has plunked one out of every 129.
Maglie’s early years did not foretell his greatness. He was oh-and-6 for the Buffalo Bisons. In 1940, Jamestown manager Joe O’Rourke berated him as lacking “a deep love for the game.” But eventually Alvin Dark would hail him as “one of the very few who can come in without his best stuff and still pitch a shutout.” After retirement, Maglie briefly general-managed the Niagara Falls White Sox. He was 75 when he died Dec. 28, 1992, an eyewitness to the game’s great moments.
(The whimsical portions of the above narrative are pure fiction.)
For directions to Sal Maglie Stadium: http://www.mapquest.com/maps/map.adp?address=1200+Hyde+Park+Blvd.&city=Niagara+Falls&state=NY&zipcode=14301&country=us&zoom=8