Northern Illinois University Press


Sal Maglie

Baseball's Demon Barber

Judith Testa

Best Biography, Society of Midland Authors, 2008

"The book reveals as few others have the dual personality of the professional athlete. Testa's achievement lies in depicting this man as a complete, full-dimensional human being. This book transcends its genre and is a first-rate work of literature."—Donald Honig, author of Baseball When the Grass Was Real and Baseball America

“There are few baseball books that delve into the complexity of a man's life in the way that Testa has done with this biography.”—Elysian Fields Quarterly

“A very enjoyable read. Testa writes well—at times with brilliance. The real value of this biography is its foray into social history. Few baseball biographies have dared to discuss the sexual or psychological aspects of players’ marriages in the manner this work does.”—William J. Marshall, author of Baseball’s Pivotal Era, 1945–1951

To the batters who faced him, pitcher Sal Maglie looked like the hurler from hell. Tall and sinister in appearance, with glowering dark eyes and a formidable five-o’clock shadow, the famed righthander earned the nickname “Sal the Barber” for his high-inside fastball that cut dangerously close to the batter’s chin. But Maglie was much more than his intimidating image.

This biography provides a colorful, detailed, occasionally shocking, and often moving narrative about the son of poor Italian immigrants who rose far beyond his family’s and his own early dreams and became a star pitcher for the New York Giants. He then, at the apex of his career in the mid-1950s, joined the Brooklyn Dodgers. This is the story of a man whose early mediocrity and failures in the minor leagues in no way prefigured his later success and fame.

Maglie’s major league career shines with baseball drama. He was a key player in some of the most dramatic pennant races in baseball history and a participant in several of the sport’s most famous games. Women found him irresistible, and his first marriage was at times severely strained by his infidelities. Despite his success in baseball, he endured pain, disappointment, and personal tragedy.

Through wide-ranging research that includes interviews with Maglie’s relatives, friends, former teammates, and team officials, as well as newspaper reports, books, and magazines, Judith Testa creates an insightful and compelling portrait of one of baseball’s most intriguing figures. Baseball fans and people interested in baseball history and in the Italian American experience will discover new insights and a wealth of information in Sal Maglie.

(2007) 486 pp., 31 illus.
ISBN: 978-0-87580-367-8
cloth $32.95

Judith Testa, a former professor at Northern Illinois University, grew up as a baseball fan in the New York City area in the 1950s. Author of many articles relating to Italy and a popular book on Rome, she now writes about a life-long love, baseball.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Preface
1. The Maglies of Italy and America
2. The Niagara Nugget Goes Nowhere—Sal's Career in the Minor Leagues
3. A Taste of the Bigs—From the Jersey City Giants to the New York Giants
4. The Cuban Winter League and the Mexican Baseball War
5. Down Mexico Way—Sal's Two Seasons with the Puebla Parrots
6. Knocking Around—The All-Stars, the Gas Pumps, and the Drummondville Cubs
7. While You Were Gone... —Major League Baseball from 1946 through 1949
8. The Birth of "The Barber"—Sal's 1950 Season with the New York Giants
9. At the Axis of Event, Part 1—Maglie and the 1951 Miracle Season
10. At the Axis of Event, Part 2—The Playoffs, the Pennant, and the World Series
11. 1952: A Season of Sun and Shadows
12. 1953: Sal's Season in Hell
13. 1954: The Giants Take It All
14. 1955: Troubles, Travels, and a Transformed Family
15. 1956: The Artful Dodger—Sal Comes "Home" to Brooklyn
16. 1956: Money Pitcher—Maglie's No-Hitter, the Pennant, and the World Series
17. 1957: "The Calendar Never Killed Anybody"—Sal at 40 as a Dodger and a Yankee
18. 1958: Sunset at the Show—Maglie's Last Year as a Player
19. 1960–1962, 1966: Coaching the Kids—Four Seasons with the Boston Red Sox
20. 1967: Tragedy at Home, Triumph in Boston
21. 1968–1969: Maglie's Stint with the Seattle Pilots
22. The Rest of His Days—Sal's Life After Baseball
23. Twilight and Darkness—Maglie's Final Years
Statistical Summaries
Acknowledgments
Notes
Bibliography
Index

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ISBN: 978-0-87580-367-8
cloth $32.95