Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Sal Maglie developed his intimidating style in Cuba

Dec. 28: On this day in 1992, former major-league pitcher Sal Maglie died in his hometown of Niagara Falls, N.Y.

Elected to the Cuban Baseball Hall of Fame in 2007, Maglie pitched 10 seasons in the majors between 1945-58, his best coming in 1951 when he went 23-6 with a 2.93.

He only pitched two seasons in Cuba: 1945-46 with Cienfuegos and 1947-48 with Cuba and Alacranes of with the independent Players Federation. In '47-48, Maglie led the league in wins (14), complete games (20) and innings pitched (211), according to Who's Who in Cuban Baseball: 1878-1961.

Those two seasons in Cuba helped Maglie develop his reputation as an intimidating pitcher, one that earned him his nickname -- The Barber -- for the close shaves he gave opposing hitters with his pitches.

James D. Szalontai's book Close Shave: The Life and Times of Baseball's Sal Maglie recounts how Cuban baseball legend Adolfo Luque helped develop Maglie's intimidating style:

He had been a master of "shaving" hitters ... In Luque's eyes, Maglie had pitching skills but not pitching finesse. So with his fertile baseball mind, he began to transform Maglie into a pitcher, an intimidator and not merely a thrower. With the help of his tutor, Maglie began to develop his trademark style that would frighten hitters for years to come. Any psychological advantage he could find would be used to intimindate a batter. A scowl, a menacing laugh or a fastball at the head. ... Luque believed that the inside corner of the plate belonged to the pitcher. He believed in protecting his bread and butter and Maglie would become his most dogmatic student in his philosophy of pitching.

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