The pride of Niagara Falls, Sal Maglie was a colorful character as well as being the best baseball player ever produced by Western New York.
Starting out with the New York Giants on Aug. 9, 1945, Sal "The Barber" terrorized batters for 10 seasons, winning 119 and losing just 62 for an amazing career win-loss percentage of .657.
Sal threw them high and tight. Brushbacks. A little chin music, he said. Testimony to the effectiveness of this delivery comes from the fact that Maglie gave up just169 home runs over his career, fewer than one for every 10 innings he tossed.
A two-time All Star who finished in the Top 10 of MVP voting three times, Maglie led the league in ERA, shutouts and win-loss percentage in 1950. He won 18 games that year, a league-leading 23 the next and 18 again the year after that. He pitched for the Giants in the 1951 and 1954 World Series and for the Brooklyn Dodgers in the Fall Classic of 1956, putting together a post-season record of 1-2 with a 3.41 ERA.
On Sept. 25, 1956, Brooklyn blanked the Philadelphia Phillies 5-0 as Maglie tossed a no-hitter.
Following that campaign, he finished second in Cy Young voting.
Maglie retired from baseball in 1959, the only man ever to have played with all three New York teams of the era, the Giants, Dodgers and Yankees. Brief stints with St. Louis and Cleveland rounded out his stellar career.
In 1983, he was honored when the minor league baseball stadium on Hyde Park Boulevard was named after him, an event covered by ESPN.
Returning to Niagara Falls, Maglie became a beloved local celebrity and a familiar face on Pine Avenue. Throughout the 1960s and 70s, he frequently turned up on FBI surveillance tapes recorded by bugs planted in the Magaddino Funeral Chapel on Niagara Street, as he was a close frond of Don Stefano Magaddino.
This of course caused more than a little controversy, which was nothing to a man who had made a name for himself throwing fastballs at other men's heads and who was publicly accused of leaving Major League baseball and pitching in the Mexican League in order to avoid the draft during World War II.
Maglie died here Dec. 28, 1992, and was interred in the mausoleum at St. Joseph's Cemetery, where you can go and pay your respects today.