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This Day in Buffalo Sports History: Relief is on the way

     October 24, 1964 -- Sometimes it's good to be a backup quarterback, particularly when you have days like this one.

     The Bills were hosting the New York Jets in War Memorial Stadium, and on a 40-degree days the Buffalo offense was quite chilled. The Jets had a 24-10 lead over the Bills in the third quarter, and it appeared the Bills' unbeaten start to the season at that point was about to come to an end. Jack Kemp had some good moments, but coach Lou Saban opted to try a change in quarterbacks.

     Daryle Lamonica turned out to be a good relief pitcher.

     The Bills started their comeback in the third quarter, when Robert Smith ran 13 yards for a score. In the final period, Lamonica hit Elbert Dubenion on a 44-yard pass for a touchdown. Then the Notre Dame graduate scored on a 3-yard run.

     When Pete Gogolak added one last field goal, the Bills had themselves a 34-24 victory. Lamonica was 4 of 11 for 127 yards, and made the key plays as the Bills improved to 7-0 on the season.

--- Budd Bailey

This Day in Buffalo Sports History: Home sweet home

   October 23, 1970 -- Veteran fans of the Buffalo Sabres remember the team's first-ever game, a win in Pittsburgh. They remember the first home game, a loss to Montreal. But they don't remember the first home victory.

   Here's a refresher course. After the Canadiens' game, the Sabres tied the Penguins. So they had to wait until this date to get a win in Memorial Auditorium.

   For much of the game it looked as if the Sabres would come up empty against the Detroit Red Wings. The visitors had a 3-1 lead, with the Buffalo goal coming off the stick of Skip Krake.

   Then the Sabres went to work. Gerry Meehan tallied late in the second period for Buffalo. Cliff Schmautz scored on the power play at 11:03 of the third period to tie the game up. That set the stage for Ron Anderson, who had a short-handed goal at 13:40 … unassisted, no less … to give the Sabres the win.

   It was the first short-handed goal in Sabre history. Anderson already had put himself in the history books when he was on the ice for the first-ever faceoff by the team.

   The victory may have gone to the Sabres' heads, so to speak. They lost their next seven games.

--- Budd Bailey

This Day in Buffalo Sports History: A Sabre killer

     October 22, 2010 -- Of all of the visiting hockey players who have performed well in Buffalo over the years, Daniel Alfredsson might be one that few fans here hate. He's always been a classy player in his many visits to play the Sabres.

     It was only fitting, then, that when he reached a major career milestone, he did it here.

     Alfredsson had a night to remember, scoring three goals and recording his 1,000th career point in a 4-2 win over the Sabres. The three goals gave him 41 against Buffalo in his career, tying him with Jaromir Jagr and Peter Stastny for the most ever scored against the Sabres.

     "It hasn't really been on my mind at all with the struggles we've been going through," said Alfredsson about the milestone. "It was more to get some wins. I got a little bit lucky: A tip-in, a half-missed shot that goes in and an open-netter. It feels great to be able to get the 1,000 points and win."

     The four-point night gave him 81 points in 78 career games vs. Buffalo. It also helped the Senators get their first road win of the young season.

--- Budd Bailey

Post Time: Odds and ends

By Gene Kershner

Is it really only two weeks until the 28th edition of the Breeders' Cup (BC) World Championships?

More than $25 million in purse money will be at stake over the two-day event at Churchill Downs on Nov. 4 and 5. We'll have plenty of coverage for News readers over the next two weeks delving into the major races in print and the Friday races right here in the Sports, Ink blog. In addition, on BC Saturday we'll be live blogging under the Twin Spires during the day's nine championship races, culminating in the $5M Breeders' Cup Classic.

Thursday, Breeders' Cup Limited released the possible starters, including those who won automatic qualifier Challenge races, for each of the championship races.

While the racing world anticipates the Cup, there's been enough going on to keep things interesting over the last two weeks ... 

* The ESPN documentary "Charismatic" finally aired this week. Originally scheduled to be part of the original 30 for 30 series, unknown issues caused delays in the release and eventually airing as part of ESPN Films. The one hour short film focused mainly on troubled jockey Chris Antley and didn't spend as much time on the film's namesake, a horse who stunned the world capturing the Derby at 31-1 and Preakness at 8-1, before faltering in the Belmont. Trainer D. Wayne Lukas refused to be part of the documentary, although some of his assistants didn't shy away from the big screen. It was worth the time watching it, more from the historical perspective for me, but not having Lukas' involvement really hampered the impact of the film.

* With Rick Dutrow being slapped with a ten year suspension by the New York State Racing and Wagering Board for repeated drug violations, it clearly appears that he is being made an example based on the length of his sentence and is being skewered in the court of public opinion. He is appealing the sanction, so this one's going to take some time before it's all sorted out.

* Keeneland's boutique fall meeting is coming to a conclusion this weekend. Last weekend's Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes, where heavy favorite Winter Memories could finish no better than fourth, was won by the 3-year-old filly Together (IRE) off one week's rest, something you don't see everyday in the modern training era. Trainer Aidan O'Brien is still undecided if he will run her back in the Breeders' Cup.

* The horse that finished second in the QE II, Marketing Mix, is one to keep an eye on, should she run in the Breeders' Cup. She tracked the leader, Summer Soiree, in the early stages and gave up no ground under rider Garret Gomez before being passed in deep stretch by Together. A horse who doesn't favor the soft ground as much, if the turf is firmer at Churchill, don't count this filly out.

* Uncle Mo turned in an absolutely blazing 5 furlong workout in 58.64 at Belmont Park this week. He's sure to be the favorite in the Classic and with his solid name recognition will take a lot of dough at the windows. Coming off a 7-furlong and mile race, trainer Todd Pletcher has his work cut out for him, in preparation to go a mile and a quarter on November 5. I'm still on the fence on Mo, but leaning on the side of "play against" based on the short odds and potential stamina issues.

* The BC Dirt Mile could be one of the quality races on the Saturday card. Expected starters are the Preakness champion Shackleford, King's Bishop winner Caleb's Posse, Cigar Mile champ Jersey Town, Trappe Shot and Jackson Bend. That's a tremendous group that should make a great betting race.

* A new International group of racing bloggers, of which I am a member, was unveiled recently called Turf. The site is essentially a hub, or portal to the individual websites of an international group of horse racing bloggers who write on all aspects of the sport-breeding/bloodstock analysts, racehorse owners and trainers, performance and medical experts, photographers, handicappers, fans and historians. If you are a racing fan, you'll surely find a potpourri of excellent writing here.

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

This Day in Buffalo Sports History: A happy return

     October 21, 1988 -- Who says there are no second acts in American life? Larry Playfair had one.

     The former number one draft choice of the Sabres in 1978 became a regular with the team in 1979. He stayed in Buffalo through January 30, 1986, when was dealt to the Kings with Sean McKenna for Doug Smith and Brian Engblom.

     But Buffalo got him back in 1988, giving up Bob Logan and a draft choice. Playfair hadn't seen much action for the Kings in that season, participating in only four games.

     This deal was more popular with team's front office than with the hockey department. Playfair was one of the hardest workers in team history in terms of working with the community, and immediately reestablished a strong relationship with Western New York upon his return.

     Playfair got plenty of playing time during the rest of the 1988-89 season, playing in 42 games. He suited up four more times in the 1989-90 campaign, and then left the game. Playfair has remained an active member of the team's alumni, and remains a fan favorite to this day.

--- Budd Bailey

Running notebook: Waiting for calm

Last Saturday was one of those days when it was tough to figure out what to wear for a run. Rain and strong winds were in the forecast, but luckily we only got the windy part. Still, I felt like I got hit by a wall when I ran past Wehrle Dr. on Spindrift in the Gateway-Longview race. It wasn't exactly a day for personal bests.

One other note before we get to the local weekend schedule, courtesy of Some local runners went to Chicago for the annual marathon. David Keenan of Tonawanda turned in a fine 2:33:59 time there. He finished 111th overall. That's a nice day's work.

* ECMC Lifeline Foundation WNY Runs for Heroes 5K, Delaware Park in Buffalo, 10 a.m. Saturday, 898-5881. This race was indeed scheduled for last week, but postposed because of the threat of difficult weather. I think it's the first race that's been delayed for that reason in five years. Remember the October Surprise of 2006? 

* Chowder Challenge 5K, Pine Woods Park in North Tonawanda, 11 a.m. Saturday, 523-3958. This race had a Saturday to itself ... until the postponement of the ECMC run. Those who signed up for both, figuring they would be a week apart, have a decision to make.

* Niagara Falls International Marathon, Buffalo to Niagara Falls, Ont., 10 a.m Sunday, (905) 356-9460. This has a variety of other events associated with it, including the half-marathon, 10K and 5K runs.

--- Budd Bailey

This Day in Buffalo Sports History: An amazing game

     October 20, 1972 -- The Buffalo Braves had some odd moments in their eight-year history. This was certainly one of them.

     The Braves were playing the Celtics in their fifth game of the season. Buffalo was 2-2 entering the game, thanks to two wins over Philadelphia. That wasn't much of an achievement, since the Sixers went 9-73 that season -- the worst record in NBA history.

     The Celtics were in top form in the first three quarters of the game, jumping out to a 103-60 lead. There was no way Buffalo could get back in the game.

     Then the Braves almost did exactly that. They scored an NBA record 58 points in the fourth quarter.

     "Satch Sanders was guarding me," Buffalo rookie Randy Smith told the Cleveland Plain-Dealer. "He was near the end of his career. ... He told me during the game to slow down. Because of my speed, that was a remark I heard from everyone."

     It wasn't enough, as the Celtics still won, 126-118. The Braves then lost their next five games as well to fall to 2-8, and finished 21-61 for the season.

   For more on the 1972-73 Braves' season, click here.

--- Budd Bailey

This Day in Buffalo Sports History: Talley gets his turn

    October 19, 2003 -- Darryl Talley might not have ever received his due for his work as a player in the National Football League. Ask a Bills' player, fan or coach about him, though, and you'll get a long testimonial to his talents.

   Talley, perhaps the most underrated player nationally on the Bills' great teams of the 1990s, was honored on this day when his name went up on the team's Wall of Fame.

   "I've only been selfish about one thing," Talley said to Bob DiCesare of The News. "That's winning. I'm one of those people who want to win, and win at all costs. I don't like the idea of failing at anything."

   Talley never missed a game with the Bills in 12 seasons, going 188 for 188. Yet he only made the Pro Bowl twice.

   "To be honest with you, it was like this: We had a team full of stars and it's hard for everybody to shine. Somebody had to take a back seat," Talley said. "If you win and win big, there's always enough publicity to go around. Football's a team game. Individual accomplishments come from doing small things in the framework of a team. That's the way Darryl Talley played football."

   The Bills saluted Talley by winning on that date. They beat the Redskins, 24-7, as Travis Henry ran for 167 yards on 31 carries.

 --- Budd Bailey

This Day in Buffalo Sports History: Opening night

   October 18, 1940 -- If you find yourself driving down at the foot of Main Street today, you might want to take a moment and remember Memorial Auditorium. After all, it celebrates the anniversary of its first sporting event today.

   That was a professional wrestling card. In the featured bout of the evening, Tony Kawka beat Jerry Monahan. A crowd of 6,267 watched the action.

   In other results, Ed Don George beat Joe Savoldi. George was born in North Java and wrestled at St. Bonaventure University. He represented the United States in the 1928 Olympics.

   After that, Frank Taylor downed Jake Patterson, Juan Humberto beat Lee Henning, and Joe Cox drew Sol Slagel. If this doesn't convince you that practically everything can be found on the Internet, nothing will.

   By the way, the first actual event in Aud history was a Wendell Wilkie rally. That took place two days before the wrestling card. Wilkie lost to Franklin Roosevelt in the 1940 Presidential election.

--- Budd Bailey

Lacrosse notebook: Down the Thruway

Those who needed a bit of indoor lacrosse in their lives could have gone to Turning Stone Casino in Verona on Sunday.

There the second annual Bowhunter Cup was played. The Iroquois Nationals beat Team USA, 14-13, in what was said by observers to be a good, competitive game.

Some of the Buffalo Bandits played a role in the contest. Brett Bucktooth had a hat trick for the Iroquois team. Roger Vyse, Brandon Francis, Angus Goodleaf, Tom Montour and top draft choice Jeremy Thompson -- in addition to some others whose rights are owned by the team -- were also in the lineup for the Nationals, while Duane Jacobs and Ron Henry were coaches.

The series is now 1-1. No attendance figure apparently was announced, which is a little curious.

--- 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.