By Patrick Bradley
Senior Contributing Reporter
A landmark ballpark with a long and storied history has been rededicated as a tribute to Niagara Falls native and former major league pitcher Sal “The Barber” Maglie.
The rededication ceremony was held June 23 prior to a game between the Niagara Power and the Jamestown Tarpskunks of the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League. Sal Maglie Stadium is the Power’s home field.
The celebration began with a reenactment of the world’s shortest baseball bus excursion, a 37-second trip held 40 years ago on the day the stadium was named. This year’s “excursion” was a trip on the Discover Niagara Shuttle that began at DeFazio’s Stadium Grill and ended across the street at the stadium, which was dedicated in Maglie’s name in 1983.
The event doubled as the unveiling of stadium upgrades that include the installation of an artificial turf playing field. The $1.4 million improvement project was paid for by the City of Niagara Falls with funds from the federal government’s American Rescue Plan.
“If Sal were here today, he’d be proud of this stadium,” Niagara Falls Mayor Robert Restaino said during a brief ceremony held at home plate. “He came from Niagara Falls and never left Niagara Falls.”
Niagara Power owner John DiCarlo and concessions manager Kira Verada at Sal Maglie Stadium.
Frank Grenga Jr., Frank Grenga Sr., Niagara Falls Mayor Robert Restaino, Joyce Grenga and Maria Rizzo were on hand to celebrate the rededication of Sal Maglie Stadium in Niagara Falls. Frank Grenga is Sal Maglie’s nephew. Rizzo is his niece.
On hand were members of Maglie’s family, including nephew Frank Grenga and niece Maria Rizzo.
“I think it’s a great thing,” Grenga said.
Opened as a football venue in 1939, when it was simply called Hyde Park Stadium, Sal Maglie Stadium is now used primarily for baseball and also serves as home for Niagara University Purple Eagles Club Baseball.
The refurbished stadium is quickly becoming a community asset. Power owner John DiCarlo credits Restaino for the city’s renewed support of “not just of the stadium but of amateur baseball in Niagara Falls.”
“We’re in process of talking to Niagara County Community College and D’Youville University to have them establish this as their home field,” DiCarlo said. “And the mayor is working with NYPA, hoping to upgrade the lights. We’ll be the premier baseball facility in Western New York.”
Maglie pitched in the major leagues from 1945 to 1958. He recorded 119 wins, 862 strikeouts, and a 3.15 earned run average. He was the only player ever to pitch for all three New York City teams – the New York Giants, New York Yankees and Brooklyn Dodgers.
Maglie died in a Niagara Falls nursing home in 1992 at the age of 75.
More About Sal Maglie Stadium
√ Dedicated for football use as Hyde Park Stadium in 1939 by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt
√ Adapted for baseball in the 1950s
√ Temporary home of the International League’s Buffalo Bisons (1967-68)
√ Home of the New York-Penn League’s Niagara Falls Pirates (later called Niagara Falls Sox) and Niagara Falls Rapids of the New York-Penn League; was later home to the Niagara Falls Mallards of the North Atlantic League
√ Now home to Niagara University Purple Eagles Club Baseball and the Niagara Power
√ Has a seating capacity of 4,000 people