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This Birthday in Buffalo Sports History: Tim Kennedy

   (Born April 30, 1986) -- Professional sports can be a tough business. Ask Tim Kennedy.

   The Buffalo-born hockey player got a chance to live out the childhood dream by playing with the Buffalo Sabres for a full year. Unluckily for him, that's all it was.

   Kennedy played for the Buffalo Regals while growing up and moved on to Timon-St. Jude. He passed on an offer to play in the Ontario Hockey League, instead going to Michigan State. Washington originally drafted Kennedy in 2005, but immediately traded him to the Sabres.

   Kennedy came out of college after three years to sign with the Sabres in 2008. After a year in the minors, the forward made the Buffalo roster coming out of training camp. He spent the season here, scoring 10 goals and 16 assists.

   Kennedy went to arbitration in the summer of 2010, and was awarded a contract of $1 million. Alas, the Sabres walked away from the ruling and Kennedy was placed on waivers. Since then, Kennedy has gone from the Rangers to the Panthers to the Sharks.

--- Budd Bailey

This Birthday in Buffalo Sports History: Dave Wannstadt

     (Born May 21, 1952) -- Not too many people have been on both sides of the rivalry between the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins. Dave Wannstadt is in the small class.

     Wannstadt grew up in Pennsylvania and played college football at Pittsburgh with Tony Dorsett. After spending a year on injured reserve for Green Bay in 1974, Wannstadt moved into coaching. He started as a graduate assistant at his alma mater under John Majors, and won a national championship in 1976.

     From there it was on to Oklahoma State, Southern California and Miami (Fla.), where he and head coach Jimmy Johnson won a national championship in 1987. When Johnson left for the Cowboys, Wannstadt followed along.

     The Bears hired Wannstadt to be their head coach in 1993, but he lost his job after the 1998 season. It was off to Miami for Wannstadt, as he served as defensive coordinator under Johnson again and then moved up to be the head coach of the Dolphins when Johnson retired. Then it was on to be the head coach at the University of Pittsburgh.

     In January 2011, Wannstadt was hired as the Bills' assistant head coach. He was promoted to defensive coordinator a year later.

--- Budd Bailey

This Birthday in Buffalo Sports History: Joe D'Alessandris

    (Born April 29, 1954) -- The Buffalo Bills' offensive line had a much better year in 2011 than anyone could hoped to have. All right, maybe Joe D'Alessandris knew better. He's the team's offensive line coach.

   The veteran coach made Buffalo the 14th stop in his coaching career, and he's hoping he can stay put for a while.

   D'Alessandris has spent 36 years in the coaching business, with 27 of them coming in the coaching ranks. A professional connection with Chan Gailey proved crucial to D'Alessandris' promotion in Buffalo.

   D'Alessandris first met Gailey in 1983 when Gailey was head coach at Troy and D'Alessandris was offensive coordinator at Livingston (now known as West Alabama University). Three years later, D'Alessandris joined current Bills' general manager Buddy Nix's staff at Tennessee-Chattanooga.

   "I was offensive coordinator and offensive line coach the first two years, then I was offensive line coach the next two years," D'Alessandris said.

   Gailey reached out to D'Alessandris again when Gailey was at Georgia Tech from 2002 to
2007. Then it was on to Kansas City for the duo, as Gailey landed the job of offensive
coordinator for the Chiefs in 2008. Finally in 2010, both men landed here.

--- Budd Bailey

This Birthday in Buffalo Sports History: Tony Masiello

     (Born April 28, 1947) -- Tony Masiello probably doesn't need any reminders that he's entered the 65-and-older demographic today. Maybe a reminder of his sporting days would be a nice present for him in that sense.

     Masiello turned in a lot of good work at Canisius College. He was co-captain of the basketball team in his junior year and captain in his senior year. His best night might have been March 8, 1969, when he scored 35 points to beat Calvin Murphy and Niagara, 83-79.

     The forward led the Golden Griffins in scoring, rebounding and free throw percentage as a senior. He finished with 1,081 career points, and eventually was inducted into the Canisius Hall of Fame.

     From there, he was a third-round draft choice of the Indiana Pacers of the American Basketball Association in 1969. However, pro basketball didn't work out and he moved on to other matters.

     His public life began in 1971 when he was elected to the Buffalo Common Council. It was on to the New York State Senate in 1981, and finally to the Mayor's office in 1994. He won three terms in that job.

--- Budd Bailey

Running notebook: Finally [tied for] first

I knew that if I kept looking, I'd find a competition for runners that I could win.

Such "success" came last week when the Friends of the Night People staged its annual 5K run. The event accepted donations of old t-shirts, a fine idea. It had a special category for t-shirt for the longest distance from Buffalo.

I grabbed a shirt I picked up in a race in Seattle several years and donated it. I was announced as the winner, although a computer check revealed that a shirt from San Francisco traveled just a little bit farther. So ... we'll both be awarded the prize of an oil change and interior cleaning.

In the department of real running accomplishments, check out Sunday's running column for an account of what the Boston Marathon was like from the pack.

Now for the weekend schedule, courtesy of

* SFC Race for a Cause, 2745 Seneca St. in West Seneca, 6:30 p.m. today, 824-4655.

* Buffalo Undy 5000 5K, Delaware Park in Buffalo, 9 a.m. Saturday, (202) 628-0123 x104. Can't wait to hear reports about the walk-through, inflatable colon.

* Kaleida Spring into Fitness 5K, 100 High St. in Buffalo, 10 a.m. Saturday, 859-7069. This is a new race, and I can't say I've done much running in that neighborhood before. Should be fun.

* BPAC 6-Hour Distance Classic Ultra, Northtown Center in Amherst, 8 a.m. Sunday. We salute anyone willing to take part in this one.

--- Budd Bailey

Post Time: Derby Week on Horizon

By Gene Kershner

It’s the time of the year that we live for in the horse racing world. Derby week is around the corner and this year’s edition of the Run for the Roses is shaping up to be one of the more competitive races in recent memory. Should the D. Wayne Lukas-trained Optimizer draw into the field, we’ll have some of the more prolific trainers in the game involved in this year’s Derby with Todd Pletcher, Bob Baffert, Steve Asmussen, Aiden O’Brien and Jerry Hollendorfer all with horses ( and in some cases, multiple horses) entered.

The all important post position draw will take place on Wednesday afternoon (5 p.m., NBC Sports Network). There’s probably no other race in North America where the post draw can play such a factor on outcome. The inside posts (1-2) and outside posts (17-20) have not traditionally fared well over the past 40 years. Two years ago Preakness champion Lookin at Lucky drew the rail, and trainer Baffert actually thought about scratching him.  He was banged around at the start and never recovered until it was too late when he rallied to finish sixth.

Last year I was really favoring Archarcharch the week before the Derby, but once he drew the rail, he was done like dinner. He was injured in the early going and retired after the race. In the last 42 years, post positions 14, 17 and 19 have not produced a winner. Nehro finished second last year wearing number 19, but went from post 18 after Uncle Mo’s scratch.  Big Brown is the only horse to win from post 20 in the past 42 years, when he romped in 2008.

What posts are the more favored posts? Typically posts 3-8 go the earliest. In the same time frame noted above, the horse coming out of the 10 post has won seven times. In 2006, the horse in the 8 post won all three Triple Crown races (Barbaro, Bernardini and Jazil).

Keep an eye on the weather and don’t forget to check the wet Tomlinson figures of the horses in case the track comes up muddy or sloppy. In two of the last four years, the Run for the Roses was raced on an off-track (Mine That Bird -2009; Super Saver – 2010), so be sure to know who your mudders are.

All of the horses have to be at Churchill by Wednesday and most will at least have one workout over the strip before next Saturday’s race. This year’s race also will allow four also-eligible (AE) horses that can enter and will obtain one of the cherished gates should one of the top 20 horses scratch by 9 a.m. Friday morning (Oaks Day). The reason for the early deadline is that advance Derby wagering starts on Friday morning, so the field has to be set by that time frame. As always an Oaks-Derby double wager will be available on Friday as well.

The Kentucky Oaks will also be shown on NBC Sports Network next Friday afternoon (5 p.m.) and should be an excellent race. Some of the top fillies in the land are entered and we’ll post our selections in next Friday’s blog.

 Our News coverage of the Derby starts this weekend, with a print feature on Hansen owner Dr. Kendall Hansen and will continue next week with a Sports, Ink blog previewing the Kentucky Oaks on Friday.  Next weekend’s print editions will have a Derby preview with our Post Time selections and a post-race commentary on Sunday morning.  We’ll also be live blogging right here on Derby Day starting around 11 a.m. through the big race. So be sure to join us in our coverage here at The News for all things Derby.

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

This Birthday in Buffalo Sports History: Chuck Knox

     (Born April 27, 1932) -- The Buffalo Bills have provided all sorts of ups and downs over the years. Chuck Knox took them from a definite down to a decided up in only a few years.

     Knox grew up in Sewickley, Pennsylvania, and played tackle at Juniata College. He went into college from there, working his way up the ladder to the college ranks when he joined Wake Forest in 1959.

     In 1963, Knox made the jump to the pro ranks as he became the offensive line coach for the New York Jets. There he spent a couple of years working with a young quarterback named Joe Namath. Then it was on to the Lions.

     Knox became a head coach for the first time when the Rams hired him in 1973. Los Angeles won five straight NFC West titles under Knox, but couldn't quite make it to the Super Bowl. Management became impatient, and Knox jumped before he was pushed.

     The Bills thought five straight playoff spots sounded good, and hired him as a head coach. Buffalo was awful in 1977 under the previous coach, but Knox rebuilt the team in short order and the Bills won the AFC East in 1980. They made the playoffs again in 1981.

     Knox left Buffalo after 1982, and jumped to Seattle. He later returned to coach the Rams before retiring after the 1994 season.

--- Budd Bailey

This Birthday in Buffalo Sports History: Sal Maglie

     (Born April 26, 1917) -- Many people considered the decade following World War II as a high point for New York City's baseball rivalries. After all, there were three teams competing for attention then, and they all won championships between 1947 and 1957.

     Sal Maglie knew all about that. The Niagara Falls native pitched for all three teams in that span.

     Maglie spent some time in the minors and then four years in the Mexican League. Finally, he landed with the Giants in 1950. He went 23-6 for New York, and had a ringside seat for the Giants' comeback that was capped by Bobby Thomson's homer that won the deciding playoff game.

     After a stop in Cleveland, Maglie landed with Brooklyn in 1956. He was the other starting pitcher when Don Larsen threw a perfect game in the 1956 World Series. Then it was on to the Yankees in 1957.

      Maglie finished his career with a record 119-62, a 3.15 earned-run average, and 25 shutouts. He also had a great nickname -- the Barber, as his high and tight pitches were something of a "close shave" for opposing batters.

     He came back to Niagara Falls in 1970 as general manager of the Pirates, and stayed there until his death in 1992.

--- Budd Bailey

This Birthday in Buffalo Sports History: Jimmy Slattery

     (Oops -- According to someone who is working on a book on Slattery, he was actually born on August 25, 1904 instead of April 25, 1904, as has been reported in many places. We'll take his word for it.)

     No one can say Jimmy Slattery didn't put in the hours at his chosen profession of boxing. No one can say he wasn't good at it, either. Slattery is in the small club of Western New York boxers who won a world championship.

     Slattery was the son of a Buffalo fire fighter and turned pro in 1921. He once fought 15 times in four months. It took him four years to get a title shot in the light heavyweight division, only to come up short in a bout against Dave Shade.

     It was back to work for Slattery, who had to wait two years before another chance to be a champion. This time he won the NBA title, beating Maxie Rosenbloom in a decision. Slattery only had that title until December, when he lost to Tommy Loughran.

     Fast forward another three years, and Slattery took a different title (NYSAC) by defeating Lou Scozza. Again, he lost it to Rosenbloom, this time in an unpopular split decision.

     Slattery's personal story has plenty of twists. He supposedly threw money out the window of his car in order for neighborhood kids to be able to afford new shoes. That was one way that the $400,000 he earned in the ring disappeared. The boxer also had major problems with alcohol.

     Slattery died in 1960. He's in the International Boxing Hall of Fame, and had a street named after him locally in 2006.

--- Budd Bailey

This Birthday in Buffalo Sports History: Bob Chandler

     (Born April 24, 1949) -- Bob Chandler wasn't the fastest player on a football field at a given moment. He certainly wasn't the biggest. All he did was catch every pass that was thrown to him.

     The wide receiver, who cleared 6-foot-7 as a high school high jumper, first gained a national reputation during his time at the University of Southern California. There he was the Most Valuable Player in the Rose Bowl, and was the team's leading receiver in his senior season.

     Pro scouts were a little dubious, though, so he went unselected until the seventh round of the 1971 draft. The Bills weren't too confident that he'd even make the team, and offered him a three-year contract worth a total of $52,500. He took it, and then went about the business of earning some playing time.

     Chandler had a couple of good seasons in 1972 and 1973, times when the Bills usually were more concerned about handing the ball to O.J. Simpson. He blossomed in 1975, catching a total of 220 passes in that time.

     In 1979, the Bills traded Chandler to the Raiders for Phil Villapiano, and his career had yet another act. He caught four passes during the Raiders' Super Bowl win in 1981.

     Upon retiring, Chandler moved smoothly to the world of broadcasting. Sadly, he developed a nagging cough in 1994 that was later diagnosed as lung cancer. He continued his work on Raiders' broadcasts, but died in 1995.

--- 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.