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This Day in Buffalo Sports History: Ben Wiltbank

   (Born March 13, 1956) -- The minor leagues are where a lot of dreams go to die. Such was the case for Ben Wiltbank.

   The pitcher came out of Baltimore City College, where Pittsburgh scout Murray Cook signed him and said later, "There is little doubt he had an explosive fastball reaching upwards of 100 MPH and became one of the top prospects in the Pittsburgh Pirates' farm system."

   Wiltbank was assigned to Niagara Falls to start his career in 1977, and he struck out 82 batters in 76 innings. That pushed him up the Pirates' organization ladder.

   By 1979, he arrived in Buffalo. The Bisons had returned that season after the city had gone about nine years without professional baseball. Wiltbank split his time between Buffalo and Triple-A Portland with a combined record of 3-12.

   The hard-throwing right-hander spent the rest of his career in Buffalo. He was 7-11 in 1980 and 4-4 in 1981. You could sum up his days here then as tantalizing, but not consistent.

   Then in 1982, Wiltbank suffered a severe knee injury. His season was over, and as it turned out so was his career.

--- 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.