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SEP 15 - SEP 22, 2015

Sal Maglie's Son Joe Laments State Of Stadium Bearing is Father's Name

By Mike Hudson

SEP 15, 2015

Sal Maglie Stadium - run down, forlorn.
Joe Maglie is unhappy about the condition of Sal Maglie Stadium.
Shots of stadium interior shows sad shape of once vibrant community asset.

 

In Niagara Falls, you mention baseball and it won’t be long before you find yourself discussing the greatest player the city ever produced, Sal Maglie.

He is one of the most revered figures in the city’s history, Harriet Tubman notwithstanding.

Although he got a late start in the Major Leagues – he rookied in at age 28 in 1945 with the New York Giants -- the rangy right hander was one of dominant pitchers of his era, compiling a record of 119 wins, 862 strikeouts and an earned run average of 3.15 over the span.

He was the only pitcher to play for all three of the New York teams, the Giants, Yankees and Dodgers, and he also pitched for the Cleveland Indians and the St. Louis Cardinals.

His best season was 1956, when he no hit the Philadelphia Phillies for the Dodgers and, in Game 5 of that year’s World Series, he was bested only by Don Larsen of the Yankees, who used the occasion to toss his perfect game and best Maglie and the Dodgers 2-0. 

Dubbed “The Barber” by sportswriters for his purported predilection to throw balls high and tight, thus giving the batters a “close shave,” Maglie actually had no more hit batsman than normal based upon innings pitched.

In Niagara Falls he was a hero, especially to the thousands of young boys playing Little League here. Every summer, he would fill a train full of youthful players for a trip to New York City, where they were treated to a Dodgers game and a room for the night. He remembered well his own time playing youth baseball at Hyde Park.

In 1983, the city renamed what had been called Hyde Park Stadium in his honor, hoping to attract a minor league baseball team to the venue. The Niagara Falls Pirates, Tigers, Rapids and Mallards all played their home games at the facility, providing professional quality baseball in the city from 1970 to 1995 and launching a number of notable Major League careers.

Conditions at the stadium deteriorated, and former mayor James Galie had Sal Maglie completely rebuilt in 1998, in the hope of once again attracting professional baseball to the city.

In 2007, the Niagara Power – a team in the New York State Collegiate League – contracted to use the stadium. Once again the city, now under the leadership of Mayor Paul Dyster, allowed the facility become run down.

In August, Power General Manager Cal Kern announced that negotiations with the city had broken down, the field was for all intents and purposes unplayable, and that the franchise that had brought more than 60,000 fans into the city would dissolve rather than put up with it any more.

This was very troubling for one man in particular. Joe Maglie, son of the baseball legend who passed away in 1992, told the Niagara Falls Reporter over the weekend he is troubled by the events surrounding the baseball stadium that bears his father’s name.

“It’s sad to see,” he said. “The Niagara Power is done. And of course I care a lot about what’s going on because that’s my dad’s name on it.”

Maglie said he believes that between the Power, the city’s Babe Ruth League program and the Niagara Thunderwolves travelling collegiate baseball program sponsored by Niagara County Community College, having activity at the stadium every night during the baseball season is a no brainer.

“I’m frustrated and it upsets me to see the stadium not being kept up,” Maglie told the Reporter. “If there was any interest whatsoever in the on the part of politicians, something could be worked out.”

Maglie confirmed Power General Manager Cal Kern’s assessment of the problem. Kern told the Reporter in August that the the city claims it is too broke to properly maintain the field, but that when the Power organization offered to maintain it themselves, they were told that such a course of action would be in violation of union work rules.

“You had a situation out there this summer where a pitcher was actually afraid to pitch off the mound because of the likelihood of injury,” Maglie said.

The Niagara Thunderwolves program involves a hometown team that plays its schedule for the most part at NCCC and Cambria Town Park.

“You’ve got a Niagara team, a hometown team, playing other teams from Ohio, Pennsylvania and the rest of Upstate New York, Maglie said. “And the Niagara Tournament is being played someplace in Newfane? Really?”

Maglie said the Thunderwolves schedule could be made to dovetail nicely into that of the Niagara Power, and that Babe Ruth Little League games could be played at the stadium on off days, giving youngsters the opportunity to play on the same field that nurtured the careers of any number of Major Leaguers.

“The Power was bringing money into the city, and the Thunderwolves would bring in more,” he said. “Then you’ve got the kids’ program, something for them to do and get them off the streets. It’s a win-win-win.”

Unfortunately, while a building a cricket field can go from being a ridiculous idea to being a finished piece of real estate in head spinning time here these days in Niagara Falls, the thought of scheduling activity at an already existing sports facility and maintaining the facility to allow for the sport to be played without undue safety concerns is, apparently, an unreachable star.

Joe Maglie is none too happy about it. Neither are officials of the Babe Ruth Little League, the Niagara Power or the Niagara Thunderwolves, all of whom have endured soul sucking City Hall meetings that have resulted in nothing.

His father, “The Barber,” might have ordered up a little chin music in a situation like this, just to speed thing along.

“I grew up in the Hyde Park area, I was around that stadium all my life,” he said. “It just seems like a shame that you would have an asset like that and then not even bother to take care of it.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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