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This Day in Buffalo Sports History: Moses departs

   October 24, 1976 -- One of the briefest yet most significant tenures in Buffalo Braves' history came to an end on this date. Moses Malone, who had been acquired less than a week before, was traded on this date to the Houston Rockets for draft choices.

   Malone had had quite an odyssey in basketball before he ever got here. He was supposed to go to the University of Maryland after graduating from high school, but instead he jumped to Utah of the American Basketball Association. Malone also played for St. Louis in the ABA.

   When that league folded, Portland took him in the dispersal draft. But the Blazers already had a center named Bill Walton. Malone came to Buffalo from Portland on Oct. 18 as an insurance policy for a contract dispute involving Bob McAdoo. Malone asked for a guarantee of 24 minutes per game, which considering Malone went to the Hall of Fame doesn't seem that unusual.

   But the Braves couldn't make it work out, and Malone left after playing only two games. His stay became a team oddity on a team that had its share of them.

   "If we had kept that one club together, maybe we could have won the championship," former Braves executive Bob MacKinnon said years later. "We had Moses Malone, Bob McAdoo, [John] Shumate and [Adrian] Dantley, all on one club. To let that slip through our hands was very poor."

--- Budd Bailey

This Day in Buffalo Sports History: Home cooking

   October 23, 1960 -- The Bills still hadn't won a home game at this point in their first season, losing their first three starts at War Memorial Stadium. They changed that in a big way on this date.

   Wray Carlton scored three touchdowns (all on pass receptions) in the first half alone as Buffalo jumped out to a 28-7 halftime lead, and coasted to a 38-9 win over the Oakland Raiders.

   Johnny Green had another touchdown pass (Elbert Dubenion) to run his total to four for the game. Green scored the other Buffalo TD on a 2-yard run.

   "Everything went right," Green said. "Wray caught a couple of passes out on the right side. The coverage wasn't there, so he came open and scored."

   The win improved the Bills' record to 2-4 on the season. Too bad a crowd of only 8,876 was there for the game, as heavy rain kept the fans home.

--- Budd Bailey

This Day in Buffalo Sports History: A road disaster

   October 22, 1961 -- As we've seen over the years, sometimes it takes something drastic to prompt Bills' owner Ralph Wilson to take action. A 38-0 deficit at halftime just might qualify.

   That was the story of the game between the Bills and the Patriots in Boston. New England had that lead at 30 minutes, and built it to 45-0 after three quarters. The Patriots went on to a 52-21 win in a game that was delayed two days by the threat of a hurricane.

   The only reason the score was that close was because Warren Rabb threw three touchdown passes in the fourth quarter. M.C. Reynolds was 1 for 8 with two interceptions, meaning he threw more passes to the other guys than his own team.

   As a team, the Pats ran for 235 yards, including an 85-yard run by Larry Garron. Babe Parilli threw three touchdown passes for Boston, and Butch Songin threw two more.

   Wilson obviously wasn't too happy. He created a job of director of player personnel, and filled it by hiring Lou Saban. The Patriots had fired Saban has head coach two weeks before what was the most one-sided loss in Buffalo's AFL history at that point.

--- Budd Bailey

Running notebook: No room at the inn

   A story about the Boston Marathon Monday certainly got plenty of attention across the country ... and particularly in the Northeast.

   The Marathon started accepting entries for next March's race at 9 a.m. on Monday. About eight hours later, the race had reached its limit of about 21,000 registrants. In comparison, five years ago it took seven months to fill that number of spots.

   The quick filling of the field means that those running in the New York Marathon, of any other race this fall, won't be able to go to Boston even if they hit the qualifying standards. That should get the attention of some. It's also a sign that running continues to grow in popularity.

   I would guess that those standards probably will be getting just a little bit tougher for 2012.

   It's a light weekend in racing, at least in terms of events. The schedule from

   * Breaking the Sound Barrier 5K, 2253 Main St. in Buffalo, 9 a.m. Saturday, 834-7200 x175. I don't think I've missed this one in several years; it's always a nice, little, heart-warming event.

   * Niagara Falls International Marathon, 10 a.m. Saturday, (905) 356-9460. The annual Buffalo to Niagara Falls, Ont., run usually doesn't attract a huge amount of Americans, partly because of border issues, but it still is one of the prettiest courses in the business.

--- Budd Bailey 

This Day in Buffalo Sports History: Packing them in

    October 21, 1948 -- Dr. Daniel Starr of Canisius College wrote a book on the Golden Age of Buffalo sports … the post-war boom period of the late 1940's. It's difficult to argue with the central point of the book after reviewing the events of this day.

   The Kensington Knights played the Bennett Tigers in a Harvard Cup football game. While the score has been mostly forgotten (26-8, Kensington), the crowd figure lives on. Somehow, 50,998 fans packed then-Civic Stadium on the corner of Jefferson and Best to witness the contest.

    Remember, Buffalo did have pro football back then in the form of the Bills of the All-American Football Conference. And college football, in the form of the Little Three schools, was a national attraction as well.

   So to attract 50,000 for a high school game, in a stadium that didn't come close to having that many seats, was very impressive. It still is. In fact, it's still the state record for attendance at a high school game.

   Kensington went on to win the Harvard Cup, beating Riverside, 27-0, in the championship game. Coach Wilbur Bergstrom thus recorded the second of four straight Harvard Cup titles.

--- Budd Bailey

This Day in Buffalo Sports History: Thurman's big day

   October 20, 1996 -- It's difficult to upstage a game-winning field goal in the final seconds. Thurman Thomas just about accomplished that feat on this date.

   Yes, Steve Christie kicked a 47-yard field goal with 10 seconds left. That gave the Bills a 25-22 win over the Jets. But Thomas had the day's biggest moment.

   Thomas claimed the Bills' record for most rushing yards in a career during the game. He had 97 yards on the day to move his total to 10,218. He passed Hall of Famer O.J. Simpson, whose record had lasted 19 years.

   "It means a lot to me," Thomas said. "I think a lot of people in Buffalo probably thought that record was out of reach. But I'm proud of what I've been able to do with one football team.

   "To pass somebody like that, who's in the Hall of Fame, it hasn't hit me now. Maybe it'll hit me tomorrow, and I'll realize what I've done in my career with the Buffalo Bills."

   Thomas previously had broken Simpson's record for career rushing touchdowns, career rushing attempts, 100-yard games and touchdowns.

 --- Budd Bailey

This Day in Buffalo Sports History: The Mad Bomber

   October 19, 1969 -- It's as if Daryle Lamonica was a bit upset that he had been traded by the Buffalo Bills after the 1966 season.

   The Raiders hosted on the Bills on this date, and Lamonica came out throwing ... and throwing ... and throwing. In fact, he threw six touchdown passes before the end of the first half. The Bills had time to get a touchdown of their own on a 39-yard pass from James Harris to Haven Moses. That cut the lead to an astounding 42-7 at halftime. That's a Bills' team record for most points allowed in a half.

   Buffalo "rallied" to make the final score 50-21. Jack Kemp came on to throw touchdown passes to Bill Enyart and Marlin Briscoe. Fittingly, the last score of the game came on a safety, as Kemp was tackled in his own end zone.

   Lamonica finished 21 of 36 for 313 yards. Harris was 8 of 16 while Kemp was 8 of 26. Oddly, the Raiders only had a 404-392 edge in total yardage that day.

   One other interesting stat from that game … Bill Enyart had 10 carries for the Bills. O.J. Simpson had six.

 --- Budd Bailey

This Day in Buffalo Sports History: Scrambled win

    October 18, 1998 -- Doug Flutie's stay in Buffalo was short, but it had some memorable
moments. Ask the Jacksonville Jaguars.

   Flutie's touchdown run in the final moments lifted the Bills to a heart-stopping victory on this day. He ran 1 yard around the end to give Buffalo the 17-16 victory over the previously undefeated Jaguars.

   It sparked one of the great celebrations in stadium history, complete with "I'm a Believer" by the Monkees blaring over the sound system.

  "In all the many years, this has to rank in the top three or four most exciting games ever," said Bills owner Ralph Wilson.

   "He's a special, special guy," coach Wade Phillips said about Flutie.

   The touchdown, which came on fourth-and goal with 13 seconds left, was practically drawn up on the carpet of the stadium. Flutie was supposed to pitch the ball to Thurman Thomas around left end, but Thomas didn't hear the playcall and went right. So ... Flutie just sprinted to the left corner of the end zone and fired the ball into the stadium wall after scoring.

   Flutie made the Pro Bowl for his work with the Bills that season. A bigger reward was that he generated excitement about the Bills in the area and helped the team made enough financial deals to trigger a new lease between the Bills and Erie County about the stadium. In other words, he may have saved the Bills for Buffalo.

--- Budd Bailey 

This Day in Buffalo Sports History: Worth reading

   October 17, 1959 -- Is this the anniversary of the most significant day in Buffalo sports history? It very well may be.

   Ralph Wilson announced on this day that he would place an American Football League franchise in Buffalo. Wilson, a Detroit-area resident, had looked at Miami as a destination for the team but decided to place a team in Buffalo after speaking with civic leaders.

   One of them was George Schaaf, a building contractor who had been Wilson's commander on a World War II mindsweeper. Wilson also consulted with Paul Neville, the sports editor of the Buffalo News. Neville broke the story about the Bills' application for an AFL team.

   "Eleven years was a long time [without football], and I knew Buffalo had had many disappointments through promises from the NFL that had never materialized," Wilson said. "But George and many other of Buffalo's most prominent citizens convinced me that the city was one of the greatest sports towns in America."

   It took less than seven years for Buffalo to be a member of the National Football League, thus putting the city firmly on the national map.

--- Budd Bailey

This Day in Buffalo Sports History: Rockpile's opener

   October 16, 1937 -- Consider yourself an old-timer if you know what Roesch Memorial Stadium is. It actually was the name of War Memorial Stadium when it first opened in 1937.

   The stadium was a Works Progress Administration project in the Depression. It seated 35,000 people initially, although a variety of expansion projects moved its capacity to a bit under 50,000 by the early 1970's.

   The new facility's first event came on this date when it hosted an intersectional college football game on that day, as Colgate lost to Tulane, 7-6. It was a tougher test for Tulane than its previous game; it beat Mississippi College, 84-0.

   Name changes for stadiums and arena happened back then too. The facility's name was switched to Grover Cleveland Stadium later in 1937. That idea lasted a year, as the generic Civic Stadium was used starting in 1938.

   The building was in use until the Bisons moved downtown to Pilot Field in 1988. However, the site is still used for sports. The Johnnie B. Wiley Amateur Athletic Sports Pavilion was constructed on that spot and is used for a variety of events.

--- Budd Bailey

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About Sports, Ink

Budd Bailey

Budd Bailey

Budd Bailey has served in a variety of roles in Buffalo sports in the past 35 years, including reporter, talk-show host, baseball announcer, public relations staffer and author. He covers the Bandits and running for The News when not working as an editor.