Twenty-Six years ago I was very much involved in the opening of then Pilot Field as the Bisons took their quest for Major League baseball to another level. Governor Cuomo “the first” was there along with Mayor Jimmy Griffin and every other political and business dignatary who couold squeeze behind a podium. It was a day that will always be remembered by sports fans of Buffalo old enough to remember.

The Buffalo Bisons re-invented Triple-A and minor league baseball, improving on the food, the on-field promotions and the total experience. One could look at minor league ball parks all over America and see the influence that Bob and Mindy Rich have had on the sport.

The original management team consisted of Bob and Mindy, Mike Billoni, Jon Dandes, Mike Buczkowski, Greg and Marta Hiczewski. I’m sure there were others, but those are the folks who stood out in my memory as we covered their exciting growth and domination of the minors.

In the 1980’s when Bob Rich Jr. decided he wanted a major league team in Buffalo it was a wild ride that swept up most of the community. When Rich went to New York City to pitch the Major League Commission formed to select expansion locations all of the major Buffalo media outlets followed.

I personally did a live broadcast back to Buffalo during the Ch 7 Noon News as Governor Mario Cuomo held a press conference with Rich to discuss their pitch to the Commission. In fact, I’m sure I angered more than one reporter when I blurted out “Governor, we are broadcasting live to the people of Buffalo, please tel us how it all went.” At that point the Governor focused all of his attention to me and WKBW photographer Micket Ostreicher as any savy politician would do. It was a very exciting time.

That was a long time ago and of course the Bisons and Buffalo were not selected by the Majors. Still, the ballpark, now called Coca Cola Field, which was the diamond of the minor leagues in the 80’s still shines bright today, especially today, the home opener. The hotdogs smell more delicious, the popcorn more buttery and the poutine more savory. Poutine? Yes, poutine the French Canadian treat is now served at Coca Cola Field because of the Bisons affiliation with the Toronto Blue Jays.

Take me out to the ball game as the song goes because it’s opening day and I still get a thrill, not a chill, as the team takes the field.


Filed under: Buffalo Bisons, Koshinski's Korner

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