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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.

Jeter re-signs for a raise -- but Yankees have a good reason

By Mike Harrington

Now that we're in the post-World Series period, the action should be coming fast and furious with teams making decisions on their free agents, their manager and their rosters in general. Teams have a five-day window to chat with their own, and players can then shop their services starting Tuesday.

(Remember, Bud Selig & Co. frown on any of this news taking away attention from the Fall Classic, so teams are told to stuff a sock in it until the Series is decided).

An unusual story came out of New York today with the announcement the Yankees have signed Derek Jeter to a one-year, $12 million contract -- even though he had a player option for next year for just $9.5 million. So what gives? Simple. If Jeter exercised his option, the Yankees would be charged roughly $15.5 million toward their payroll ceiling that figures luxury tax payments.

They want to avoid the tax and get under a $189 million payroll and paying Jeter $12 million actually saves them $3.5 million (and perhaps many millions more in taxes) while giving their longtime shortstop an extra $2.5 million inn his pocket.

No one knows if this will be Jeter's farewell tour, ala Mariano Rivera. But he played just 17 games this season, totaling 73 plate appearances in the wake of his broken ankle suffered in the 2012 ALCS against the Tigers. It was far and away the most frustrating season of what had been a brilliant career.

Jeter turns 40 on June 26. (Yes, Derek Jeter turns 40. We're all getting old.) Can he really be considered an everyday shortstop anymore? The Yankees need him for PR value for sure and they're probably curious if he'll be able to put together a huge bounceback season. That said, the deal makes sense for them. It's not just let's give a 40-year-old a raise even though he basically didn't play last season.

Meanwhile, the most interesting managerial candidate to watch is Red Sox bench coach and Buffalo Baseball Hall of Famer Torey Lovullo, who should now be talking to the Cubs, Tigers and Mariners with the season complete.

I chatted with Lovullo last week in St. Louis and you if you missed my Inside Baseball column on him in Sunday's editions, click here to double-back on his story.  Lovullo managed in Pawtucket while working under current Cubs GM Theo Epstein and broke into the big leagues with the Tigers, who are definitely interested as well. Taking over a playoff team with a legendary manager like Jim Leyland figures to be a tough task. As a first-time manager, Lovullo might be better suited with a rebuild like the Cubs.

Farrell calls Lovullo 'a manager-in-waiting'

By Mike Harrington

BOSTON -- The one disappointment of Media Day was I did not get a chance to check in with Red Sox bench coach and Buffalo Baseball Hall of Famer Torey Lovullo. The teams were apparently required to have one coach present and batting coach Greg Colbrunn filled that role for the Sox.

Asked about his staff during his pre-interview session with the media, Red Sox manager John Farrell said of Lovullo, "I think he's a manager-in-waiting. It's a matter of time for him."

It seems that way, as the Chicago Cubs and Seattle Mariners are reportedly interested in talking to Lovullo about their open jobs when the World Series is over. Lovullo played for the Bisons in 1995 and again in 1997-1998, serving a key role on two straight championship teams (one in the American Association and one in the International League). He managed the Herd from 2006-2008.

Boston outfielder Daniel Nava played under Lovullo in Pawtucket in 2010 and agreed with Farrell's assessment.

"%orey's on a lot of the small details of the game and John is on the broad spectrum of the game," Nava said. "He has a really good feel for baseball. Knowing when to pick off, knowing when to steal, when not to steal. Something like Dave Roberts' stolen base was huge for the Red Sox back in the day [during the 2004 World Series]. Who knows? Maybe Torey will get us a stolen base at a time we really need it."

"His name has been out there for a while and he deserves it. What people lose sight of is that he was a player who worked his butt off to get to the big leagues and has done that again as a coach. He respects the guys who go out there and grind and play the game right."

As Buffalo BB Hall of Famer Lovullo eyes World Series bid, Cubs eye him for manager's office

LovulloBy Mike Harrington

Buffalo Baseball Hall of Famer Torey Lovullo (left), now the bench coach under ex-Bisons pitcher and Cleveland farm director John Farrell in Boston, has the biggest game of his life on tap for tonight as the Red Sox try to wrap up another trip to the World Series in Game Six of the ALCS against the Detroit Tigers.

But whenever Boston's season is over, Lovullo may have even more on his plate becuase his name is getting plenty of play for open managerial jobs.

There are all kinds of reports today that the Chicago Cubs want to interview Lovullo to replace the deposed Dale Sveum. Aside from being a good candidate, Lovullo goes back with Chicago GM Theo Epstein because he managed the Red Sox Triple-A farm club in Pawtucket in 2010.

The Seattle Mariners also seem interested in Lovullo to replace another former Bisons skipper in Eric Wedge. Lovullo, remember, interviewed for the Red Sox job when Bobby Valentine was hired in 2012 (that sure worked well). He's also interviewed with Cleveland, Pittsburgh and the Los Angeles Dodgers. 

"Right now, our focus is on what’s happening here,” Lovullo said this week in Detroit. “I would like to manage one day, but I’m not here to fast-forward anything or make it happen before its time.”

Lovullo was one of the key members of the Bisons' championship teams in 1997 and 1998, and was a regular on the 1995 team that came within one win of another title. He then managed the Herd from 2006-2008, the final three years of the Cleveland affiliation. He spent the last two years as the first-base coach in Toronto under Farrell before joining him in Boston. 

(Lovullo photo: Getty Images)

Go to the video: Mike Harrington's Buffalo Baseball Hall of Fame acceptance speech

Click below to watch the acceptance speech of News Sports Reporter/Baseball Columnist Mike Harrington given Friday night in Coca-Cola Field upon his induction into the Buffalo Baseball Hall of Fame.

From Friday's Buffalo News, here are Harrington's top memories on the baseball beat. 

And click here for an article on Harrington by Andrew Kulyk of Artvoice.

From the archives: Links to today's baseball memories

Roberts
Dave Roberts' famous steal of second in the 2004 ALCS (Getty Images).


By Mike Harrington

I'll be joining Dave Roberts and Ernie Young tonight in the Buffalo Baseball Hall of Fame, and be sure to read my column in today's editions about my top memories on the Bisons/MLB beat the last 20 years. 

I also wrote a story today about Young's memories of Buffalo and Sunday's Inside Baseball column featured a chat with Roberts on his famous stolen base with the Red Sox in 2004. 

Want even more reading material? Jerry Sullivan wrote this column on Young after the 2000 Olympic gold medal game in Australia, four years before he joined the Bisons.

As for my memories list, here's a look back to the stories I produced on the scene at each of the moments in the article: 

1. Yankees-Arizona World Series Game 7 in 2001 -- Luis Gonzalez's game-winner.

2. 2004 ALCS/World Series -- Red Sox beat Yankees and Cardinals
    Game Seven of the ALCS        Game Four of the World Series 

3. Bisons 1997 clincher at Iowa --- Story one: Recap of Sean Casey's home run   Story two: Torey Lovullo presenting Bob Rich the game ball 

4. 2004 IL finals Game Four -- Bisons win title at home

5. 2007 Cleveland Indians -- A feature heading into the postseason

6. 1998 Bisons clincher -- Game Five in Durham

7. 2000 Subway Series -- Story one: The crazy Piazza press conference the day after BatGate. Story two: The Yankees' Game Five clincher. 

8. 2008 All-Star Game -- A web-only version filed at 3 a.m.

9. 2011 World Series Game Six -- Some scorebook pencils bit the dust in the 10th when the Cardinals tied it again.

10. 1995 ALDS Game One -- Ex-Bison Tony Pena sends us home at 2:08 a.m.

What didn't make my cut? Some pretty good ones.

There was Jeff Manto's three-homer game in 1997, the Bisons' 19-inning loss to Scranton in Game Five of the IL semifinals two nights before 9/11, Roger Clemens' one-hitter at Seattle in the 2000 ALCS, the opener at new Yankee Stadium in 2009, Stephen Strasburg's visit to Buffalo in 2011 and my chat with Hall of Famer Bob Feller during Strasburg's outing in Cleveland two weeks later, and last year's Triple-A All-Star Game in Buffalo.

(Bartolo Colon's no-hitter here in 1997 is not on any list because I was off that night, although I was in the ballpark to witness it.) 

Go to the video: In '04, new Buffalo BB Hall inductee Roberts became an October hero forever

By Mike Harrington

Dave Roberts and Ernie Young have been announced as the player inductees for the 2013 class of the Buffalo Baseball Hall of Fame today, and they will be enshrined prior to the July 19 game against Toledo in Coca-Cola Field.

(Full disclosure: Your neighborhood beat writer/columnist/blogger has been named in the Contributor category. Huge thanx to all who have texted, tweeted, called or approached today. Massive honor).

Young was the power-hitting first baseman/DH of the 2004 and 2005 teams while Roberts is the modern-era stolen base leader in a Buffalo career that began late in 1998 and stretched through 2001. Roberts, now the first-base coach of the San Diego Padres, is much more remembered for his stolen base in Game Four of the 2004 ALCS for the Red Sox and for the tying run he scored off Mariano Rivera that got Boston even and kick-started its historic comeback from a 3-0 deficit in the series.

I was pretty fortunate to be in the house on assignment that night in Fenway, and Roberts and I had a good chat about it the next day prior to Game Five. Little did anyone know at the time, of course, how historically significant the play would become.

Here's a pair of must-see videos on Roberts. The first is ESPN's "30 for 30" segment on the Roberts stolen base from the epochal "Four Days in October" episode on the 2004 ALCS. The second is an interview NESN did with Roberts last week when he was at Fenway Park with the Padres:

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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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