Sal Maglie

Sal Maglie

Professional Baseball Player

Most casual baseball fans recall that Bobby Thompson’s epic homerun at the Polo Grounds won the 1951 National League pennant for the New York Giants and capped a comeback from a 13 1/2 game deficit in August. Only fanatics, however, are likely to recall that the ace of the Giant pitching staff that season was Niagara Falls native Sal Maglie.

Maglie led the league in wins (23) in 1951, and his Giants sorely needed every one of them to take the flag. That season followed a 1950 campaign which featured an 18-4 mark (for a league-leading .818 percentage), a league low 2.71 earned-run average, and league high 5 shutouts. His 45 consecutive scoreless innings streak during that season fell 1 2/3 innings shy of Carl Hubbel’s then National League record.

Maglie won 18 more games in 1952, and paced the 1954 pennant-winning Giants with 14 victories. Sal’s career with the Giants, Yankees, Dodgers and Cardinals concluded with 119 wins against 62 defeats, a .657 winning percentage which is among the top marks for pitchers with at least 100 victories.

Sal’s three-year record of 4-15 with the Buffalo Bisons did not foretell his later brilliance. After a season with the Giants in 1945, Maglie spent four years in the Mexican League under the tutelage of curveball master Dolph Lugue. He returned to the Giants in 1950, older, wiser and armed with a command of the edges of the plate which earned him the nickname, “The Barber” in reference to the “close shaves” he administered to opposing batters. Sal was never better than in pressure situations. In September 1956, he tossed a no-hitter for the Brooklyn Dodgers in the heat of a pennant race becoming the oldest pitcher in 48 years to accomplish the feat. He started pivotal game five of the Fall Classic that year against the Yankees, surrendering only two runs and five hits in an effort which would likely have produced victory on most days, but not on the day that Don Larsen pitched the first (and only) perfect game in post-season play.

As age overtook his arm, Maglie survived on smarts and savvy. These attributes served him well later as a pitching coach for the Miracle Red Sox of 1967. Sal also served as pitching coach for the Seattle Pilots, Buffalo Bisons, and as coach and scout for the Niagara Falls Pirates. His dedication to the game made him a fan favorite, and a favorite son of his native Niagara Falls. Maglie was honored after his retirement when the City bestowed his name on the former Hyde Park Stadium.

Maglie passed away in 1992, but the memory of his outstanding career as a player and his service to the game of baseball and to his community lives on with his induction into the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame.