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Bisons legend Jeff Manto earns nod to IL Hall of Fame; induction will be here in August

Manto
Jeff Manto in 2000. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News file photo)

By Mike Harrington

Slugging infielder Jeff Manto -- the only modern-era Bison to have his number retired -- is one of three members of the Class of 2014 for the International League Hall of Fame, the league announced today.

Manto, Buffalo's modern-era home run king with 79 from 1997-2000, will be joined by current Scranton/Wilkes-Barre manager Dave Miley and longtime Toledo broadcaster Jim Weber. Each member will be inducted during a ceremony in an IL city, and Manto's will come during the Bisons' series against Norfolk from Aug. 11-14 in Coca-Cola Field (date to be determined).

Manto was the IL MVP in 1994, a year he split between Norfolk and Rochester, and has recently taken a job as the minor-league hitting instructor for Norfolk's parent, the Baltimore Orioles. Baltimore's director of minor-league operations is Buffalo Baseball Hall of Famer Brian Graham, Manto's manager on the 1997 Bisons who won the final American Association championship.

Manto is one of only three players in the 128 seasons of Bisons baseball to have his number (30) retired by the club. He joined fellow IL Hall of Famers Ollie Carnegie and Luke Easter in earning the honor during a lavish ceremony in 2001.

Manto hit 125 home runs between seven different IL teams in his career. His '94 season between Norfolk and Rochester saw him lead the league with 31 homers and 100 RBIs.

Manto hit 20 homers in 54 games for Buffalo in 1997 after a midseason trade with Toronto and ended up on the Cleveland Indians' 25-man World Series roster. He hit .311 with 23 homers in 62 games for the Bisons in 1998 as the team won the IL title in its return to the league, and Manto hit .533 during the Triple-A World Series in Las Vegas.

Manto hit 23 more home runs while hitting .296 for the Herd in 1999 before playing 94 games and hitting 13 homers in 2000. He retired following that season to embark on a coaching and managerial career in the minors. He has also been a big league hitting coach for Pittsburgh and the Chicago White Sox. He was fired by the White Sox on the final weekend last season and moved on to Baltimore.

Manto, who was inducted into the Buffalo Baseball Hall of Fame in 2003, becomes the 28th former Bisons player or manager to be inducted into the IL Hall. The full list by year is at this link. Inductees are selected by a panel of living Hall of Famers, longtime executives, broadcasters, and members of the media. There is no actual IL Hall building. Inductees receive a large trophy plaque and the league maintains a traveling exhibit on the Hall to celebrate its heritage.

You can read my 2001 story on Manto's Buffalo career at this link.

Video: Bisons introduce new manager Gary Allenson

Allenson named Bisons manager

The Toronto Blue Jays announced Monday they have chosen Gary Allenson as Buffalo Bisons manager for the 2014 season. Allen will be introduced as the 19th manager in the Herd's modern era at 11 a.m. Thursday before the team's hot stove luncheon at the Adam's Mark Hotel.

The 58-year-old Allenson, who replaces Marty Brown, is entering his 20th season as a manager in the minor leagues and his second in the Blue Jays organization after leading the Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats to a 68-72 record and thrid place in the Eastern League Eastern division last season.

Allenson has a career managerial record of 1,143-1,266 (.474 pct.). Of his previous 19 seasons, eight have been in the International League: Louisville (1998-1999), Ottawa (2003) and Norfolk (2007-2011). He reached the IL playoffs with Louisville in 1998 and with Ottawa in 2003. Allenson also has six years of Major League coaching experience with the Boston Red Sox (bullpen coach: 1992-1993, third base coach: 1994) and the Milwaukee Brewers (first base coach: 2000, third base coach: 2001-2002).

Allenson was a ninth-round draft pick of Boston in 1976 and spent six seasons (1979-1984) as a catcher in the Major Leagues with the Red Sox before finishing his career with 14 games for the Blue Jays in 1985. He hit .221 with 19 home runs and 131 RBI in 416 games in the majors.  He was the International League's most valuable player in 1978 after hitting .299 with 20 home runs and 76 RBIs for Pawtucket.

Joining Allenson on the Bisons staff will be pitching coach Randy St. Claire and hitting coach Richie Hebner. Athletic trainer Voon Chong and strength and conditioning coach Armando Guttierrez will return for their second seasons.

A note of apology

By Mike Harrington

While discussing the aftermath of today's Baseball Hall of Fame voting, I tweeted a comment about another voter's actions that included inappropriate and regrettable language.

As a parent of a special needs child, I am well aware of the daily challenges they and their families face. No one should demean them or what they go through. 

My deepest apologies.

It's Hall of Fame Day: Let the wild debates rage over the ballot

Maddux
Greg Maddux is a lock (AP).

By Mike Harrington

The Baseball Hall of Fame will announce its 2014 induction class today, with coverage on MLB Network starting at noon and the actual results being released at 2 p.m. on MLB Network, BBWAA.com and BaseballHall.org. It is a ballot once again rife with controversy.

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A personal refresher here: I am a member of the Baseball Writers Association of America, the body that votes on players to the Hall. You have to be a member for 10 years to have a ballot and I will reach that point following the 2016 season.

So my first vote will come for the Class of 2017, which will include big first-time names like Manny Ramirez, Ivan Rodriguez and Jorge Posada in addition to all the holdovers that will surely still be on the ballot.

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Big issues this year:

---The size of the ballot, which limits you to voting for 10 players and is causing so much consternation among voters that a committee has been formed to study the issue and perhaps push the Hall to allow expansion. 

---The continued question of what to do with Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and other Steroid Era players

---What to do with former '80s ace Jack Morris, in his final year on the ballot and holder of a 3.90 career ERA that would be the highest ever for an inducted starter.

---The glut of big first-time candidates, who are pushing holdovers down the list or off ballots entirely. Many thought Greg Maddux would be the first unanimous Hall choice -- and he should have been -- but Dodgers beat writer Ken Gurnick of MLB.com voted only for Morris because he wasn't voting for any Steroid Era players. Foolishness. 

So if I had a ballot, who would I pick?

Continue reading "It's Hall of Fame Day: Let the wild debates rage over the ballot" »

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About Inside Pitch

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington, a Canisius College graduate who began his career as a News reporter in 1987, has covered the Buffalo Bisons since 1992 and Major League Baseball since 1995. A member of the Baseball Writers' Association of America, Harrington has reported on more than 30 MLB postseason series — including every game of the World Series in this century — and all three of the Bisons' championship runs in their modern era. He is a connoisseur of the famous Stadium Mustard at Cleveland's Progressive Field.

@BNHarrington | mharrington@buffnews.com


Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz, a native of Lockport, has covered the Bisons for The Buffalo News since 2002. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/mass communication from St. Bonaventure University and a master’s degree in humanities from the University at Buffalo. An endurance athlete, she has completed several triathlons, half marathons and marathons.

@amymoritz | amoritz@buffnews.com

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