Niagara Falls Reporter
Home | Archive / Search
MAY 05 - MAY 12, 2015

Sal Maglie Stadium a Field of Dreams For 75 years, Saw a Lot of Great Baseball

By Mike Hudson

May 05, 2015

The old Sal Maglie Stadium 1989, 10 years before it was torn down

For years people have wondered why Niagara Falls, a city of 50,000 that plays host to millions of tourists every summer, couldn't have a minor league baseball team.

Former mayor Jimmy Galie wondered it, appointing a baseball commission, tasked with exploring what was needed to attract a club to the Cataract City, back in 1998.

Galie thought that bringing professional baseball back to Niagara Falls after a four year hiatus would be just the thing to guarantee his reelection bid. He ordered the old stadium, originally built in 1939, torn down to make way for a new Field of Dreams.


He was shutout the following year in the Democratic primary by the rangy right hander John Accardo, however, who then went down to defeat in the general election, losing to Irene Elia, a former nun who had little interest in baseball.

The resulting rebuild of the storied old stadium gave the city a "sports complex" that didn't even meet the needs of the professional rookie leagues, and with the exception of the amateur New York Collegiate Baseball League Niagara Power, who play 23 games at Sal Maglie each summer, the stadium has mostly played host to local high school sporting events.

But that wasn't always the case.

When the stadium was built in 1939, it was to play host to the Niagara Falls Rainbows, the Cleveland Indians New York Penn League affiliate. The only major leaguer to come off the Rainbows roster that year was Walt Chipple, a career minor leaguer who managed one season with the Washington Senators and batted a not overly impressive.136.

By 1947, Sal Maglie was home to the Niagara Falls Frontiers, a team representing the Philadelphia Phillies in the Mid Atlantic League. Catcher Big Jim Devlin was a standout who later went on to a brief career with the Cleveland Indians.

From 1967 to 1969, the stadium was home to the Buffalo Bisons, a Triple A International League franchise affiliated first with the Cincinnati Reds and then with the Washington Senators. It was the beginning of a golden age for Niagara Falls baseball.

Racial unrest in and around the team's home field in Buffalo led to the move.

The 1967 roster featured a dozen future major leaguers, including Hall of Famer Johnny Bench, All Star second baseman Hal McRae, pitcher Jose Pena and Don Zimmer, the All Star infielder who would later go on to manage the San Diego Padres, Texas Rangers, Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs.

From 1970 to 1979, under the leadership of team owner George Wenz, Sal Maglie Stadium played host to the Niagara Falls Pirates of the New York Penn League.

Dale Berra, Miguel Dilone, Rick Honeycutt, and Luis Salazar were among the many to major leaguers and All Stars who played for Wenz's team.

Wenz showed a genius for showmanship. One particular promotion involved a "road trip," in which Pirates fans could eat and drink to the heart's content at the Stadium Grill and then board a bus that would take them to Sal Maglie Stadium, located directly across Highland Avenue from the bar. It was a popular promotion until a car ran a red light and T-boned the bus one evening.

The Pirates morphed into the Niagara Falls Rapids in 1982 and featured the young talent of All Star first baseman Tony Clark, a switch hitter who played with the Detroit Tigers, Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees before retiring after a 15 year career that saw him hit 261 with 251 home runs.

There's a lot of history around that old ball yard on Hyde Park Boulevard. And perhaps a lot of future too.

Niagara Gazette sportswriter Doug Smith estimated that about 1,193 professional baseball games were played since the stadium opened as Hyde Park Stadium in 1939 and that about 1.2 million people attended games played by the Rainbows, Citizens, Bisons, Rapids, and Mallards.






Isaiah 61 House Collapses After Walls are Removed
Zona to Run for Mayor?
Uniland, Delaware North at Odds; Dispute Could Threaten Wonder Falls Project
Jury Finds Dowd, Toohey, Mitchell Harmless in Hickory Stick Land Case
Niagara Falls Voted No. 1 in Flawed Contest
City's Proximity to Canada Finally Does Us Some Good in New Poll!
Elderly Taxpayer Targeted By Dyster's 'Beautification Police'
Trash and Stupidity Abound with New Trash Plan
Grandinetti Calls School District Sex-ed Policy 'Borderline Criminal'
What is Grandinetti Talking About and Why?
Dyster on Anello Show, Another Curious Radio Performance
Bogus 'Task Force' Bolsters Dyster Resume', Accomplishes Little Else
Grandinetti on Facebook During Working Hours?
Judge Faso to Run for Reelection
Only in NT: Untapped Power of Unregistered Voters Need to be Tapped
Second Pro Baseball Team to Play Part of Season at Sal Maglie Here
Sal Maglie Stadium a Field of Dreams For 75 years, Saw a Lot of Great Baseball
A Niagara Falls Original, Maglie One of a Kind Wherever He Went
The Niagara Falls High School Athletic Complex Officially Opens May 6. District says it is the largest high school athletic complex in the State.
Politicians Vague on ECC Crisis as Another Tuition Hike Nears
City Hall Jokes

Contact Info

©2014 The Niagara Falls Reporter Inc.
POB 3083, Niagara Falls, N.Y. 14304
Phone: (716) 284-5595

Publisher and Editor in Chief: Frank Parlato
Managing Editor: Dr. Chitra Selvaraj
Senior Editor: Tony Farina