July 4, 1996 -- The Buffalo Bisons started a tradition 13 years ago today that continues to this day. Or to yesterday, to be more specific.
The Bisons started their holiday package of playing a game before a concert by the Buffalo Philharmonic. The idea has caught on, as the downtown stadium usually has been sold out for the game (now played on July 3). Here Mike Harrington describes the Bisons' performance in the first such game; we'll let the lifestyle section reprint Herman Trottier's review of the Philharmonic's day:
The oohs and aaahs produced by a Fourth of July fireworks show filled North AmeriCare Park late Thursday night.
Actually, they had filtered through the sellout crowd long before that. The rat-a-tat-tat of the Buffalo Bisons' bats made sure of that with an 11-4 throttling of the Indianapolis Indians.
The night opened with the Bisons unveiling new button-down blue uniform tops with white piping that mimic those of the parent Cleveland Indians.The nattily dressed Herd then took the field and won in the same All-American way they've been destroying the American Association all season.
There was a 12-hit attack, featuring a three-run homer by Don Sparks and a solo shot by Geronimo Pena in his Bison home debut. There were 71/3 innings thrown by starter Jimmy Williams (7-3), providing desperately needed relief to a bullpen weary from a six-day, nine-game road trip. And there was plenty of solid defense, led by second baseman Casey Candaele and shortstop Damien Jackson.
It was the third time in the last five games Buffalo has scored in double figures. The Herd has averaged nine runs per game in winning five of its last six outings.
"We've been swinging the bats extremely well but I certainly don't want to jinx that," manager Brian Graham said. "Guys are a little tired and it's actually made them relaxed and comfortable. I know that sounds funny, but it's making them concentrate and nobody seems to panic in any situation."
--- Budd Bailey