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This Day in Buffalo Sports History: Getting his due

   July 31, 2006 -- Frank Grant finally received a little bit of justice on this day. It was long overdue.

   Grant was formally inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. He was considered one of the greatest players of the 19th century, and was talented and popular. However, Grant never got the recognition he deserved, because he was an African American and never played in a major league game.

   Grant did get to display his enormous skills from 1886 to 1891 in the minor leagues, which included almost three full seasons with the Buffalo Bisons. In 1888, Grant hit .346 with 11 homers and 23 stolen bases. Think of Joe Morgan, and you have an idea what an all-around talent Grant was.

   The second baseman was the victim of racial prejudice throughout his career, as he had to battle for a fair paycheck and constantly put up with slights from opponents. It's been guessed that the "feet first" slide was invented around this time so that it would be easier to spike Grant on double plays, although that's difficult to prove.

   Grant played in the minors until 1891, when he finally gave up at the age of 25. He is considered to be the last great black baseball player in organized ball until Jackie Robinson arrived on the scene in 1946.

   Grant died in 1937 and was buried in Clifton, N.J. He received a gravestone this past June that listed his baseball accomplishments.

--- Budd Bailey

Rodgers comes back to win 53rd Porter Cup

LEWISTON -- Hello once again from Niagara Falls Country Club. If there's been a nicer day this summer, I don't remember it.

Conditions couldn't be better for today's final round of the 53rd Porter Cup. The leader, Paul Haley of Dallas, just teed off on the first hole, so if you're thinking about coming out, pack up the car.

Haley is at 11 under through 54 holes, one shot up on Patrick Rodgers. A group of six players -- Wesley Bryan, Cameron Wilson, Ben Kohles, John Peterson, Tarquin MacManus and Tim Hart -- started the day three shots back at 8 under.

That could make for a crazy final round, just the way we like it.

Updates on the blog will be sporadic at best because I'll be spending most of my time out on the course today. I'm also going it alone once again today. For live updates, follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/jayskurski

I'll be back when the leaders make the turn with an update.

UPDATE: Here's the scores that have been posted thus far: NFCC member PJ Alterio 76-309, Williamsville's Kenneth Riter 79-304, Jeb Buchanan 75-301, Lam Zhiqun 71-293, Nick Gilliam 70-293, Jorge Fernandez Valdes 72-293, Brad Wilder 72-292, Sebastian Pinzon 73-292, Jonathan Fly 69-292, Buffalo's Chris Covelli 71-292, Ethan Tracy 69-291, Ben Campbell 72-291, Nathan Holman 67-290, Brinson Paolini 70-289, Don DeNyse III 69-287.

1:09 p.m.: We've got a three-way tie atop the leader board. Haley bogeyed No. 1, while Bryan birdied the first two holes to jump to 10 under, joining Haley and Rodgers.

2:52 p.m.: Here are more scores that have been posted: Doug Kleeschulte 72-290, Brian Churchill-Smith 71-289, Todd Sinnott 70-287, Dave Bunker 70-287, Michael Boss 76-293, Scott Langley 74-291, Matt Stasiak of Clarence 71-288, Zachary Kempa 74-290, Tim Hume 73-289, Stephan Jaeger 69-285, Nathan Smith 72-287, Harold Varner III 69-284, Ryan Terdik 69-284, Gregor Main 73-287, James White 78-292, Bryden Macpherson 71-285, Brett Drewitt 71-284, David Chung 78-291, Mike McCoy 70-283, Bobby Hudson 72-284, Alex Ching 78-290, Kalem Richardson 73-285, Brooks Koepka 70-282, Mackenzie Hughes 69-280, Matthew Stieger 70-281, Jake Katz 70-281, Mark Hoffman 70-280, Daniel Kim 66-276, Russell Henley 73-283, Chris Malec 71-281, Max Homa 64-274, Denny McCarthy 72-282, Chris Morris 68-278.

3:12 p.m.: Homa's 64 is the round of the day so far, but it's in danger. Wesley Bryan is through 10 holes and has moved up to 14 under. He shot a blistering 29 on the front nine and holds a four-stroke lead on Haley, Peterson and Kohles.

6:09 p.m.: As we said earlier, a crazy round could be on hand. Turns out it was. Patrick Rodgers, a 19-year-old freshman-to-be at Stanford, has won the 53rd Porter Cup on the first playoff hole. Rodgers birdied the par-3 18th hole in the extra session. Check Sunday's Buffalo News for all the details.

---Jay Skurski

This Day in Buffalo Sports History: New depth chart

   July 30, 1993 -- The Buffalo Sabres shuffled their administrative deck on this day.

   Gerry Meehan, the team's general manager, was moved up to Executive Vice-President of Sports Operations. John Mucker, the head coach, added most of the general manager's duties in the switch.

   It's the first time the Sabres had named a general manager without firing the former occupant of the position.

   "We've worked well together, and I expect we'll continue to work well together," Muckler said at a news conference. "I don't think you can be coach and GM under the traditional format, but under the format we designed and intend to operate under, I don't see any problems with it."

    Meehan was said to have hopes of becoming the team's president at some point, but that didn't happen. He left the Sabres in 1995. Muckler stepped down as coach in the summer of 1995, and stayed as general manager for two more years.

--- Budd Bailey

Porter Cup delay over, Rodgers inches ahead

LEWISTON -- Torrential rains this morning at Niagara Falls Country Club have the third round of the Porter Cup operating two hours behind schedule.

The leaders, who were originally scheduled to go off at 12:40 p.m., didn't get out until 2:40. Golfers were pulled from the course at 9:20 a.m. and returned at 11:20.

--Bob DiCesare

UPDATE: The first few groups have completed their rounds, including three local players. NFCC member PJ Alterio shot 75 as part of the first group along with Kenneth Riter of Williamsville, who shot 73. Alterio's in the field this week in place of NFCC club champion Fred Silver.

Alterio finished second to Silver, but the 29-time NFCC champion declined his invitation to the event because he's playing in the Senior British Amateur this week.

Bob is out on the course following the leaders, this is Jay Skurski checking in. We'll have updates on the blog throughout the day.

3:28 p.m.: There's more of a breeze than there's been in the first two days of the tournament, and that's a good thing. It's hot when the wind isn't blowing. The fairways are wet from this morning's rain, and while I didn't walk on any of the greens, I have to assume they're the same way. The gusting wind, though, might be enough to keep scores from going crazy low today. ---JS

3:36 p.m.: If you were out here Friday, you saw the tee at No. 15 was moved up. It's the same way today, which makes the hole a lot of fun to watch. Playing 307 yards, the hole is reachable from the tee for these players, but bunkers on the left and right catch most of the tee balls. There's danger out of bounds left, and tree trouble to the right. Of the nine tee shots I watched, just one split the bunkers and reached the green. Most were about 30 yards short, leaving an easy wedge to the green. Still, it wasn't an automatic birdie. Any approach left above the hole left a slippery downhiller that I saw a few players blow past. The 15th green is the best spot on the course for spectators in my opinion. The trees offer plenty of shade, and you can watch the tee shots on the par-3 16th and par-4 17th holes, as well. The tournament can be won and lost in that stretch. ---JS

3:45 p.m.: Here are the third-round scores that have been posted so far: Alterio 75, Jeb Buchanan (medalist of the qualifier) 71, Riter 73, J. Fernandez Valdes 70, Jonathan Fly 70, Ethan Tracy 73, Chris Covelli of Buffalo 72, Nick Gilliam 74, Brian Churchill-Smith 70. ---JS

4 p.m.: Some highlights from earlier: Watched Matt Stasiak of Clarence hit the pin out of the bunker on No. 14. He made the par save. On the same hole, watched a ridiculous par save by Brad Wilder, from the ditch behind the hole. On the next hole, Wilder originally took out an iron to lay up, but changed his mind on the tee. "What the hell," he said to tournament director Steve Denn. ---JS

4:05 p.m.: A few more of the scores that have come in: The round of the day thus far is a 68 by Brooks Koepka of Wellington, Fla. The others: Sebastian Pinzon 72, Nathan Holman 76, Ryan Terdik 69, Scott Langley 71, Wilder 75, Stasiak 73, NFCC member Mike Boss 73, Dave Bunker 73, Mike McCoy 69, Stephan Jaeger 72. ---JS

4:07 p.m.: Defending champion David Chung is in with a 69, his first round under par so far this tournament. ---JS

5:04 p.m.: Well, that was hardly the most inspiring nine holes I've seen from a lead group on Friday at the Porter Cup. Stanford-bound Patrick Rodgers now leads at 10 under, with Paul Haley at 9 under and Nate McCoy at 4 under after starting the day at -7. The three of them combined to make all of two birdies. Haley's streak of bogey-free holes ended at 40 when he failed to get up-and-down from the front fringe on No. 5. He proceeded to bogey No. 6 as well, missing a 2 1/2-footer from above the hole. ---BD

5:27 p.m.: Jake Katz turned in a 2-under 68 to record the best round of the day among the six locals in the field. NFCC member Mike Boss, 18, shot a 73, but the round could have been better. Boss missed a 1-foot par putt on the 17th hole after blasting out of the sand, then bogeyed No. 18. Other local scores were: Stasiak (73-217), Covelli (72-221), Riter (73-225) and Alterio (75-233). I'll be back tomorrow with the final round. ---JS

Post Time: Sophomore Colts Take Back Summer Spotlight

By Gene Kershner

After a seven-week hiatus from the spotlight of the Triple Crown series, the 3-year-old colts take center stage this weekend at Saratoga and Monmouth for two key races that will have an impact on the 3-year-old championship.

At Saratoga, the Grade 2, $500,000 Jim Dandy Stakes will be run Saturday afternoon at 1-1/8 miles over the historic race track on national television. The second of a series of eight weekends will be televised on Versus from 5 to 6 p.m. along with the Grade 1 Diana Stakes.

The Jim Dandy was named for a horse that pulled off a major upset in the 1930 Travers at 100-1 over Triple Crown champion Gallant Fox in the slop during the Great Depression.

The Dandy has attracted seven colts and has typically served as the prep race to the Travers, the Saratoga meet's signature race. The field isn't as prestigious as the one drawn over on the Jersey Shore, but it doesn't mean one of the seven won't step up and challenge the Haskell winner (hopefully) in the Travers in late August.

The white hot Todd Pletcher will put Javier Castellano in the irons on 6-Stay Thirsty (5-2), who has been off since his second-place finish in the Belmont Stakes. Pletcher thinks his colt is still maturing. "He's always been a straightforward kind of horse, pretty professional, and physically we've noticed some development even since the Gotham (March 11)," said Pletcher.

Stonestreet Stables and George Bolton's 2-Dominus (3-1) comes out of a gate to wire victory in the Grade 2 Peter Pan at Belmont on July 2 and has improved in each of his four career races. Julien Leparoux will again have the mount for trainer Steve Asmussen, who wins at a 21 percent clip going second off a layoff.

3-Brilliant Speed (7-2) will be reunited with Johnny Velazquez, who last rode him on the turf during the winter meet at Gulfstream Park. He comes back from a third-place finish behind the morning line favorite in the Belmont and will be the high weight at 123 pounds.

I'll box the top three noted above in exactas and trifectas. Thinking 7-Alternation (7-2) will need a race being off since mid-May and will be looking harder at him for the Travers.

The $1 million Grade 1 Haskell Invitational will be run Sunday afternoon at Monmouth Park over 1-1/8 miles. The last three winners of this event have taken 3-year-old champion honors in their respective categories (Lookin at Lucky, Rachel Alexandra and Big Brown), so this will certainly be a key race in determining this year's champion.

The race will feature a battle between the Preakness champion 5-Shackleford (5-2) and the Belmont champion 6-Ruler On Ice (4-1). Kelly Breen, Ruler On Ice's trainer, will also send Louisiana Derby champion 3-Pants on Fire (4-1) to the post, who recently won the Pegasus Stakes over the Tesio champ 4-Concealed Identity (12-1) by two lengths. The race has also attracted Preakness third-place finisher 8-Astrology (9-2), who ran a beaten sixth as the 1-2 favorite in the Iowa Derby earlier in the month.

In the Haskell, the cream usually rises to the top, so I favor Shackleford over Pants on Fire to take a big step toward the 3-year-old male championship. I'll give him a pass in the Belmont for the outside post position, the sloppy track and the added distance.

It should be a terrific weekend of racing on the east coast. Good luck and let's go cash some tickets!

Gene Kershner is a Buffalo-based turf writer and handicapper who blogs at equispace.blogspot.com and tweets @EquiSpace.

Running notebook: Bulldozer needed

A few notes before getting to the weekend schedule:

* I did the Lindsay Matthews Scholarship Race in Orchard Park Sunday morning, and I have one question: Who put the hill on the course? Might be the biggest mountain of the season, and maybe the toughest as well because it's on grass and dirt and footing wasn't good. But I know the area had a connection for the family, so I guess I can handle a hill like that once a year. It was a nice event, and an emotional time for the family.

* Best of luck to Rich Meyers, who is giving up his role as the race director of the Ronald McDonald's House run. Talk about a tough act to follow -- that race traditionally has set the standard for organization around the area.

* The Turkey Trot has announced it is taking registrations. For those of you who don't know what race they are doing in two weeks (that would be me), this may be early. But for those who want to be sure to make it, visit the Turkey Trot website.

Now the weekend schedule, courtesy of buffalorunners.com. My theory is that we aren't used to have five Saturdays and Sunday in July, so the calendar is a little thin.:

* Lake View Field Day 5K Run, Center St. in Lakeview, 8 a.m. Saturday, 698-4005.

* East Aurora Rerun 5K, Fireman's Field in East Aurora, 9 a.m. Saturday, 652-8579.

* St. John the Baptist Midsummer Nite Run, 2.3 miles, Belmont Ave. in Town of Tonawanda, 7:30 p.m. Saturday, 862-9604.

* Italian Festival 5K, Columbus Park on 15th St. in Niagara Falls, 10 a.m. Sunday, 282-7181. Haven't done this race in years. I'll bet it's still one of the flatest courses in Western New York. Note: I had this as 10:30 earlier. So don't be late.

--- Budd Bailey

This Day in Buffalo Sports History: Across the border

   July 29, 1911 -- If a Kentucky Derby winner ever turned up at Fort Erie for a race, you'd think it would cause something of a stir.

   That did happen 100 years ago today. What's more, it was Meridian's second trip to the Canadian race track in less than a month.

   Meridian took part in the Dominion Handicap at the Fort. The fans who figured a Derby winner was a shoe-in were sadly disappointed. Meridian finished out of the money in the race.

   The horse had run on the surface on July 4. Meridian was second in the appropriately named Fourth of July Stakes.

   Meridian won the 1911 Derby in what was then a record time of 2 minutes, 5 seconds. The old record had been held for 11 years by Lieut. Gibson.

   Despite the losses in Canada, Meridian was named horse of the year for 1911. He finished his career with 20 wins in 66 starts.

--- Budd Bailey

This Day in Buffalo Sports History: A piece of the record book

     August 18, 2010 -- Having a minor league record is good news, not great news. After all, no one wants to stay with a minor leaguer long enough to set a new standard for a particular team, but it is a sign that the player is succeeding.

     That was the case of Dillon Gee, who entered the Buffalo Bisons' record book on this day.

     Gee recorded his 138th strikeout in a home game against Rochester. It broke the old mark of 137 set by Vicente Palacios in 1990.

     Gee didn't have a particularly good outing, lasting less that six innings in the game.

     "I've got to focus on that because my job is to go out there and pitch good games and I didn't do it tonight," he said. "So that's what I'm going to be thinking about."

     But his team did get a win. Mike Cervenak sent the fans home happy with a walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth to give Buffalo a 7-6 win.

--- Budd Bailey

This Day in Buffalo Sports History: The second time around

   July 28, 1972 -- O.J. Simpson signed a four-year contract when he was drafted by the Buffalo Bills with the first overall pick in 1969. The dollar amount was said to be a total of $215,000.

   Simpson's best season in the first three years was nothing special. He ran for 742 yards and five touchdowns. Of course, Simpson didn't have much help. That team finished 1-13, the worst in the NFL.

   Even though the old deal hadn't expired, Simpson agreed on this day in the summer of 1972 to an extension of the old deal. Terms were not disclosed, but he probably got a raise.

   Then he went out and showed he deserved it. Whatever the final numbers turned out to be, it was a bargain. Simpson had one of the greatest stretches by a running back in the history of the NFL.

   He had five straight seasons of reaching at least 1,000 yards, and won four rushing titles. Simpson also was named the NFL's player of the year three times in that stretch.

   When his football career was over, Simpson quickly landed in Canton, Ohio, as a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

--- Budd Bailey

Haley holds firm

LEWISTON -- First-round leader Paul Haley backed up his opening 64 with a 4 under 66 and and retained the Porter Cup lead with eight groups still on the course. Haley, a Georgia Tech grad and all ACC selection, leads Patrick Rodgers by a stroke. Here's Haley after a 3-foot putt completed a tough up-and-down from the rough on 18.

Haley holds firm

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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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