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Running notebook: Just made it!

   A few running notes before we get to the weekend calendar:

   * Mark Valites, 31, of Boston, N.Y., ran the Wineglass Marathon on Sunday. In attempting to qualify for Boston, he needed to finish in 3:10:59 or better. When he crossed the line, the finish line clock read 3:11:05. That meant his fate was determined by chip time. When the final results were posted, he officially had a 3:10:59 … qualifying with no seconds to spare. Because the drama of the race just wasn't enough.

   * Neko Hiroshi is a well-known Japanese comedian who checks in at 4-foot-9 and 99 pounds. He's big enough to run in the Niagara Falls International Marathon on Oct. 24. Reporters from a couple of Japanese running magazines plan to follow his every step.

   * Nice job by some area runners at the Syracuse Festival of Races last weekend, which hosted the USATF National Masters Championships at 5 kilometers. The Belle Watling Track Club, with Richard Sullivan, Roger Whalley, Gerald Rivard and Sandy Bueme, won the 80+ division. The Checkers AC, with Helen Botti, Fran Rowe, Edna Hyer and Helen Bueme, took the 70+ division.

   Now for the lineup, courtesy of buffalorunners.com:

   * Ellicottville Fall Festival 5K, Holiday Velley in Ellicottville, 10 a.m. Saturday, 574-0888. Get ready for some hills.

   * Brothers of Mercy Columbus Weekend Nature Run, 5K, 4520 Ransom Road in Clarence, 10:30 a.m. Saturday, 759-7658.

   * Crystal Beach 5K Run, 3878 Erie Road in Crystal Beach, Ont., 11 a.m. Saturday, (289) 292-3100. I wish there were more races just across the bridge.

   * Amherst Healthy Strides 5K, 400 International Dr. in Williamsville, 9 a.m. Sunday, 631-2310.

--- Budd Bailey 

This Day in Buffalo Sports History: A high Seiling

   October 7, 1986 -- Ric Seiling will be always remembered for one thing in Buffalo. He wasn't Mike Bossy.

   Seiling's time as a Buffalo Sabre came to an end on this day. He was traded to the Detroit Red Wings for the proverbial future considerations. But it was the beginning of his career that people remember.

   The Sabres had the 14th pick in the first round of the 1977 Entry Draft. Some good players were already taken -- Dale McCourt, Barry Beck, Doug Wilson, Mark Napier and Ron Duguay. The Sabres opted to take Seiling, who was considered a good two-way player.

   Seiling lived up to that reputation during his time in Buffalo, playing nine years as a Sabre. Not only was he responsible in his own end, but he could score. Seiling had a career high of 30 goals in the 1980-81 season.

   The player taken after Seiling in the Entry Draft was Bossy, who merely scored 53 goals as a rookie. He went on to a Hall of Fame career that included 573 goals and four Stanley Cups. In his book, Sabres general manager Punch Imlach tried to defend the Seiling pick, saying that the Sabres of that time had enough offense and needed a good defensive player. Well, maybe. But you'd think that team could have made room for Bossy somewhere.

   Even so, Seiling's solid career shouldn't be overlooked. Besides, 13 other NHL teams passed on Bossy, so it isn't a case of Bossy being a sure thing coming out of junior hockey.

--- Budd Bailey

This Day in Buffalo Sports History: Outscored

   October 6, 2002 -- From history's standpoint, the Buffalo Bills' game with the Oakland Raiders was memorable because quarterback Drew Bledsoe set a team record. He had thrown 175 straight passes without an interception until he was picked off in this game. The old record of 172 was set by Jim Kelly in 1995.

   But only the history majors in Ralph Wilson Stadium cared about that fact. They were more concerned with the way the Bills played. They dropped a 49-31 decision to the Oakland Raiders. Bledsoe finished 32 for 53 for 417 yards and three big intereceptions.

   "It was another poor play on my part. ... I started off poor. ...  It was a poor decision on my part," Bledsoe told The News' Mark Gaughan in describing some of the plays that went wrong.

   However, you don't give up 49 points in a game without having some defensive problems, and the Bills had plenty of them that day. Rich Gannon of Oakland was 23 of 38 for 357 yards and three touchdowns. Four different Raiders receivers, including Tim Brown and Jerry Rice, caught at least four passes.

   "You can't stop all the guys all the time," said Bills safety Pierson Prioleau, "but you have to stop some of the guys some of the time."

   The Raiders' 49 points were the most allowed at home in Bills history at that point. Buffalo finished 27th in the league in points allowed that season, a key statistic as to why the team finished with an 8-8 record despite having a good offense.

--- Budd Bailey 

This Day in Buffalo Sports History: Broken up for good

   October 5, 1979 -- Call this "The Day the French Connection Died."

   It was a rather shocking trade at the time. The Buffalo Sabres sent right winger Rene Robert to the Colorado Rockies for defenseman John Van Boxmeer.

   Robert had teamed up with Gil Perreault and Rick Martin for much of the 1970's in one of the most famous lines in hockey history. In fact, you'd be hard-pressed to come up with a threesome since that time that was as well-known. Coaches now tend to leave line combinations intact for about, oh, a period and a half before making a switch.

   Robert had a 100-point season as a Sabre (1974-75, the year the team went to the Finals) and scored at least 20 goals for Buffalo seven straight times. New general manager/coach Scotty Bowman was anxious to make an imprint on the team, and giving up a forward for a defenseman -- and breaking up the French Connection -- certainly did that.

   While the deal wasn't too popular, it worked out pretty well. Robert only had one more good year left in him and was out of the league by 1982. Van Boxmeer played four seasons as a Sabre, and in the first three he was a leading scorer among Buffalo's defensemen.

   Van Boxmeer later contributed to the team as an assistant coach in Buffalo and as a head coach with the team's minor league affiliate in Rochester. Robert has become quite visible around the area as part of the Sabres Alumni in the past few years.

--- Budd Bailey

This Day in Buffalo Sports History: Strike one

    October 4, 1987 -- This marks one of the oddest games in Bills' history … by any standard. The National Football League players walked off the job because of a labor dispute two games into the season. The Bills had gone 1-1 until that point before the roster stayed away from Rich Stadium.

   The NFL took the most unusual move of hiring replacement players to fill the rosters, and resumed the schedule after a week off. As you can imagine, that action led to some odd scenes -- such as the regular players picketing their own games.

   The Bills weren't anxious to have their regulars crossing picket lines, as it might have led to deep divisions within the team. The first opponent with the strikebreakers came on this date, and Indianapolis clearly did a better job of recruiting replacements than the Bills did.

   The Colts recorded a 47-6 win, which was the most one-sided loss in Bills' history until that point. Gary Hogeboom crossed the picket line and looked like Johnny Unitas against the much weaker competition. He threw for five touchdown passes by the third quarter.

   The Bills used Willie Totten and Dan Manucci at quarterback. Totten, who threw a touchdown pass to Marc Brown, is mostly known as Jerry Rice's college quarterback at Mississippi Valley State.

   The Bills went 1-2 while the regular roster was off the job.

--- Budd Bailey

This Day in Buffalo Sports History: Buffalo joins the pros

   October 3, 1920 -- Not too many people remember the first time a Buffalo team played in the National Football League. OK, to be precise, it was the APFA … the American Professional Football League. Eventually, that circuit became the NFL.

   On this date, the Buffalo All-Americans played in the city's first pro football game. It wasn't much of a road trip. The All-Americans beat West Buffalo, 32-6, at Canisius Villa. West Buffalo was not a league member. Bodie Weldon had the first TD in team history.

   The league was obviously loosely organized back then, playing an assortment of teams in the region. In other words, scheduling was something on the fly. Games were played on Sundays until the final weekend of the season, when the Buffalo entry played on consecutive days.

   The All-Americans finished 9-1-1 that season, rolling up 258 points scored to 32 points allowed. The team's record was behind the Akron Pros and Decatur Staleys.

   The team played through the decade under a variety of names, including Bisons. Buffalo even took a year off in 1928 and returned in 1929, but that was the last year in the NFL until 1970.

--- Budd Bailey

This Day in Buffalo Sports History: New man in town

   October 2, 2007 -- Fans of a particular team often follow their broadcasters as closely as they do the roster. So it was newsworthy when the Sabres announced that Harry Neale had been picked as their broadcast analyst, replacing the retiring Jim Lorentz.

   You could call it a homecoming of sorts. Neale, the former NHL head coach known for his quick wit and sense of humor, lived in East Amherst. He drove up to Canada to work games for the CBC's Hockey Night in Canada and Leafs TV.

  "He was always happy when we had a game in Buffalo because he'd be home by 11 or 11:30 p.m.," said Joel Darling, the son of former Sabres play-by-play man Ted Darling and at the time the director of production for CBC Sports.

    "He's going to get some home games. And living in the Buffalo area, Harry obviously follows the Sabres very closely," Darling said.

Neale still did some games for the CBC in the first year, and then moved to a full schedule after that. He got to work with his old friend Rick Jeanneret. The pairing has stayed together ever since.

--- Budd Bailey

This Day in Buffalo Sports History: Happy birthday, Bandits

   October 1, 1991 -- Happy birthday to the Buffalo Bandits, who came into existence on this day.

   The team was created as an expansion team in the Major Indoor Lacrosse League. The team colors were black, orange and white. They were placed in the National Division with Detroit, Boston and Pittsburgh, while New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore were in the American Division.

   Why were the Bandits created? Mostly because of the age of Memorial Auditorium. The Buffalo Sabres were anxious to create interest for a new building. They believed one way to do that was to set up events that could fill up dates in the building. The Blizzard soccer team was part of that strategy, and the Bandits were another.

   "The addition of sports like indoor lacrosse to Memorial Auditorium's schedule of events fits well with our plan of developing a variety of sports and entertainment offerings for Buffalo's new sports and entertainment complex," Sabres owner Seymour Knox said.

   Later in October, the Bandits acquired an unknown player named John Tavares from Detroit, and they were on their way. The team has won four championships and set attendance records, as well as sparking interest in lacrosse. You'd have to say it worked out well.

For more on the Bandits' first season, click here.

--- 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.

@WDX2BB | bbailey@buffnews.com

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