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.