By DOUG SMITH
Niagara Gazette — Coming soon to the Gazette classifieds, under real estate or business opportunities: "Ballpark for sale or rent, slightly used, fixer-upper, make offer."
Yes, the announcement of a new athletic complex in the works for Niagara Falls High School casts a shadow over Sal Maglie Stadium, which is more than we can say for the bank of lights on the third-base side of the pressbox, which haven’t glowed since last summer.
The school board’s arrangement with the city ends in 2014. Thereafter, there’s no clear course for the ballpark announcer Jason Patterson last year inventively dubbed “The Barber Shop.” It’s a bear to maintain. A minor plumbing issue forced Niagara University, another principal tenant, to open its season on campus.
All this, just as the Power has “caught fire,” drawing really big crowds as the New York State Collegiate League season wound down last July. The place was positively electric, reminiscent of the roar of the New York-Pennsylvania League's Niagara Falls Rapids in the early 90’s.
Power President Cal Kern had to shift one home game to Batavia this coming June. He found the costs at Dwyer Stadium, which meets standards imposed by the major leagues and hosted International League games last summer, are just half those at Maglie.
Kern dreams of taking things up a notch and filling a blank in the independent professional Frontier League, but not under these conditions.
Base Paths prays (if that’s still allowed) that “The Mags” goes extra innings.
MORE ON MAGLIE: It’s ironic that when Jackie Robinson broke into baseball, Sal Maglie himself was barred, having “jumped” to an “outlaw” league in Mexico. Their later clashes were vividly recalled by colleague Don Glynn last Sunday. The first two years after his reinstatement, Maglie went 41-10 with 34 complete games.
ENTER, LAUGHING: Baseball pros call games such as Buffalo’s 27-9 rout of Syracuse Thursdays as “laughers.” A few more giggles:
• St. Francis grad Jim Negrych batted eight times and had the “cycle” – single, double, triple, homer – by the sixth inning. Going 4-for-7, he barely raised his batting average.
• Buffalo batted for 26 minutes in the seventh inning, exactly the length of time it took Base Paths to drive from his home to Niagara-Canisius softball.
• Syracuse pitcher Pat McCoy began the Buffalo series with a 3.00 earned run average and finished it at 11.81.
• The one game almost perfectly reversed the aggregate score of Buffalo’s three-game losing streak, 30-8, compiled over 22 innings.
• The Chiefs’ website’s game story began, “The Chiefs’ nine runs and 14 hits yesterday…” It reminded Base Paths of an old joke about the Soviet news agency reporting on a race between Russian and American cars: “In the great international road race, the heroic Soviets finished in second place while the filthy American capitalists were next to last.”Doug Smith offers his take on baseball every Monday with "Base Paths". Email Doug at firstname.lastname@example.org