Monday, May 28, 2012
Sal Maglie and my trip to Cleveland
At some point in the next week or so I will end up writing about the game I saw in Cleveland where the Tigers couldn't drive in a run to save their lives. This post is about a man from "The Falls" (Niagara Falls for those of us who don't live there) who inspired an entire generation of boys from his home town. They even named their Minor League park after him.
I'll be honest, growing up in Hamburg (12 Miles to the south of Buffalo) I had no idea who Sal Maglie was. It's odd but even though the Falls and Buffalo are so close together there is no doubt they are completely separate places and that is extremely evident in the fact that while I grew up only 1/2 hour away I had never heard of this Western New York icon (check out his wikipedia page for info, etc. Sal Maglie on Wikipedia and Sal on Baseball-Reference for stats).
The trip I took to Cleveland was sponsored by the Niagara Falls Sports Hall of Fame and as such there were a ton of Board members on the trip and they all had one thing in common, they all loved Sal Maglie. The first half an hour or so we did baseball trivia which I thought I might be pretty good at but when the first question was, "What was Sal Maglie's address in Niagara Falls?" I knew it wasn't meant to be my day (for the record I think it was 2717 Pierce Ave.). Then came, "What color and type was Sal's car that he always had parked out front?" Another question I couldn't even venture a guess at, I think the right answer was a red Cadillac but I could be mistaken.
What's the point of all this? The point is that these men were remembering a time when the heroes of their youth didn't live in the hills surrounding LA but rather they still lived in their home towns. They were still real people and they were accessible. That's the big problem with sports today, the athlete's aren't human anymore; they don't live on Pierce avenue and they sure as hell don't leave their cars out on the street so you know when they're home. I'm sure there are some players today who still show the neighborhood kids how to grip a 2-seamer like Sal did, but not many.
Sal was a good (maybe even great) player for his day and a two time NL All-Star on the field but judging by the love that was expressed for him 20 years after his death on that bus trip on the way down to Cleveland there is no doubt he was an all time great in The Falls.