Great job by the Bisons at Saturday night's 25th anniversary celebration in Coca-Cola Field. Pleasantly surprised to see a crowd of more than 13,000 on hand -- with more than 70,000 just a few miles away at the Bills-Steelers game.
That's nearly 26,000 in the house downtown the last two nights for a last-place team. People clearly rushing to use vouchers and go to the ballpark before the season ends. Repeating my annual question: Where the heck are all of you in June and July, when the weather is good too? Why has the ballpark become a once-a-year festival like the Taste of Buffalo for too many of you?
Anyway, lots of great touches by the team. Bringing back old favorites like Dorn Taylor, Jason Cooper, the Earl of Bud and Loudmouth. A great postgame salute to 25-year employees and a fabulous video retrospective to Springsteen's "Glory Days" that I'll post here whenever I can get a link to it.
(Mobley at left with Mooney, his wife Bonnie, and Bisons GM Mike Buczkowski).
Bisons employees call Mooney "The Mayor of Coca-Cola Field." Super job by the team to nominate him for the IL award and good for the league to make Mooney their annual selection for service to fans. The award was created in 2010 and previously given to Toledo broadcaster Frank Gilhooley and Rochester organist Fred Costello.
(An aside: Mooney stands as a glaring omission to our list of Top 25 "personalities" at the ballpark. Lots of votes as well for longtime ticket manager Mike Poreda, who has done yeoman's work. Both are very familiar to season ticket-holders).
As for the "All-25 Seasons Team," didn't like that Torey Lovullo was left off but Brandon Phillips was a worthy choice. Bartolo Colon over Joe Roa or Jason Jacome? No way. Colon only pitched 20 games here, but people don't realize that. That no-hitter in 1997 carried plenty of cachet.
Enjoyed seeing Cooper again. One of the class acts of the era from 2004-2009. Loved his thoughts on the '04 champions.
"We had guys who had just been sent down who were hungry to win and weren't worried about trying to get back up or somebody did them wrong or poor them," Cooper said. "They wanted to play for a team and play as a team. When you're a young guy coming up, you see people like that you want to be there and be in the trenches with you, your energy level goes through the roof.
"We had such a tight-knit team of guys who were so interested in winning at this level. ... It was so special. I was a guy who came in and wasn't expected to play. I was a young kid, obviously a little scared and I've got guys 35 years old on the team who are men. They welcomed me with open arms and said we're all in this together and you'll be a part of this. I never experienced that before or after since then. It's something I'll take with me forever. Very special."
The '04 team was certainly one that will live forever. Good to see the Bisons celebrate all the stars of the past -- as well as their employees and fans.
Photo: Charles Lewis/Buffalo News