Skip to primary navigation Skip to main content

This Birthday in Buffalo Sports History: Bryan Bullington

(Born September 30, 1980) -- You’d have to say that Bryan Bullington was one of those players whose fame greatly outdistanced his performance. He had a lot of stops along the way to make that true, and one of them was Buffalo.

In 1999, Bullington was an outstanding pitcher in high school. The Indiana product went 15-0, and threw a one-hitter to win the state finals. That earned him a ticket to Ball State University, where he was a standout. Not many pitchers strike out 139 while walking 18 in 104 innings.

Bullington was the first overall pick in the amateur draft, going to the Pirates. He started climbing the minor-league ladder in 2003, and made his major-league debut in 2005. But injuries cost him his 2006 season, and by the middle of 2008 the Pirates had given up on him by placing him on waivers.

Bullington was claimed by the Cleveland Indians, who sent him to Buffalo. As a Bison, where he went 1-3 with a 4.75 ERA in 10 games. The Indians were convinced that Bullington wouldn’t help them either, and he was waived to Toronto.

The baseball journey took the 6-foot-4 right-hander to Las Vegas and Omaha. Then in 2011, Bulllington jumped across the ocean to play for Hiroshima in Japan. Barring a new development, he’ll finish his career with a 1-9 record in the major leagues.

--- Budd Bailey

This Birthday in Buffalo Sports History: Dave Andreychuk

(Born September 29, 1963) -- Dave Andreychuk also could score goals. He did for the Sabres ... twice, in fact.

The big left winger scored 57 goals in 67 games for Oshawa in his last year of junior hockey. That got the attention of the Sabres, who made him a first-round draft pick in 1982 (16th overall).

Andreychuk had 10 straight 20-plus goal seasons as a Sabre. His high was 41 in 1991-92. He was headed for an even better year a season later when he went to Toronto in the deal for Grant Fuhr. Andreychuk finished with 44 goals in 1992-93.

From there it was on to New Jersey, Boston and Colorado. When the Sabres needed a little help in 2000-01, they reached out to sign Andreychuk as a free agent. He had 20 goals for them.

But it didn’t quite work out, and the forward moved on to Tampa Bay. In 2004, he got to do something he never did here - lift the Stanley Cup. Andreychuk still works for the Lightning front office.

--- Budd Bailey

Running notebook: Simply the best

I was a little cramped for room when it came to the awards and honors from the Niagara Track and Field Hall of Fame, which covers the western half of the state.It deserves a mention.

The new Hall of Famers are: Mark J. Finucane, St. Francis High School; contributor Dr. Alan L. Jones, Binghamton, NY; Stephen M. Machooka, Cornell '64; and Susan L. Schaefer Morgan, Clarence High School. In addition, Stephanie Izard of Sweet Home won the Cynthia J. Wyatt Award. Congratulations to all.

Elsewhere, the area schools that helped out on the Fleet Feet 15K on Labor Day received a nice reward recently. About 175 Brooks shoes have been donated to the schools. That brings the total of the program over the years to 1,300. Fleet Feet even received direct donations to the program, and sales reps have been donated test shoes to the schools as well. It's a nice gesture by the company and appreciated by all.

Not every organization picked this weekend for a race, but it seemed like it. We'll have to see how it affects attendance. On Sunday, I'll be writing about a race in Syracuse, which will honor a great Western New York Runner.

Here's the weekly schedule, courtesy of buffalorunners.com:

* Cummins Run for Literacy 5K, 509 Cherry St. in Jamestown, 9 a.m. Saturday, 484-7135 x236.

* Fred Ruterbusch Memorial 5K Run, Steele Hall at SUNY Fredonia, 10 a.m. Saturday, 480-1557.

* Run in the Country 5K, 3755 Tonawanda Creek Road in Amherst, 10 a.m. Saturday, 860-0524.

* Autumn Challenge 5K (trail run), Sprague Brook Park in Glenwood, 10 a.m. Saturday.

* ECMC Lifeline Foundation WNY Runs for Heroes 5K, Delaware Park in Buffalo, 10 a.m. Saturday, 898-5800. Finally, here's a race I've actually run. They hope cash prizes will help turnout, and they might be right.

* Okay 5K Fun Run, Ellicott Creek Park in Tonawanda, 10 a.m. Saturday, 884-3256. I think a pattern has emerged for starting times for Saturday.

* Jill Mattice Memorial 5K Run, Cleveland Hill High School in Cheektowaga, 11 a.m. Saturday, 435-9023.

* Bemus Point 15K, Long Point State Park in Bemus Point, 9 a.m. Sunday, 488-0788.

* Linda Yalem Safety Run, Alumni Arena at UB in Amherst, 9:30 a.m. Sunday, 645-2731. It's another News Runner of the Year race.
 
* Olivia's 5K Wish Run, Evangola State Park in Irving, 11 a.m. Sunday, 934-7499.

* Tanya's Trot for Epilepsy 5K, Cummings Lodge on Skyline Drive in Akron, 2 p.m. Sunday, 541-2315.

--- Budd Bailey

This Birthday in Buffalo Sports History: Grant Fuhr

(Born September 28, 1962) -- In 1993, Sabres’ John Muckler had a goaltending problem. He didn’t think he could get to the second round of the playoffs with the goalies on the roster. However, he knew someone who could help.

Grant Fuhr had been part of five Stanley Cups with the Edmonton Oilers, where Muckler was on the coaching staff. He didn’t have the stats that other goalies compiled, thanks in part to the Oilers’ open style of play. But he was really good when he had to be.

Fuhr was traded to the Maple Leafs in 1991 in a major transaction. However, Toronto was faced with losing him in an upcoming expansion draft in 1993. Muckler offered Dave Andreychuk, Daren Puppa and a draft choice, and the deal was done.

The Sabres did win a first-round playoff series in 1993, ending 10 years of frustration. But they also had a fellow named Dominik Hasek on the bench, who was spectacular when Fuhr was forced out of the lineup with injuries. The Sabres eventually traded Fuhr to Los Angeles.

From there, it was on to St. Louis and Calgary. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame of 2003.

--- Budd Bailey

Post Time: Kelso highlights rivals on Super Saturday

The only Grade 2 on a card filled with five Grade 1 races may prove to be the best race of the day on Super Saturday at Belmont Park. The $400,000 Kelso Handicap, a one turn mile that will qualify the winner for the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Santa Anita Park will serve as a rematch between two highly regarded foes.

On Memorial Day in the Met Mile, Shackleford (2-1) held off a charging Caleb’s Posse and To Honor and Serve (7-5) finished third in the hotly contested race.  The two rivals have taken different paths since that day in May to meet again on Saturday.

To Honor and Serve was beaten badly in the Suburban at Belmont in July, but came back to win the Grade 1 Woodward avenging his loss to Mucho Macho Man in July, out finishing him in late stretch. Trainer Bill Mott said he disliked the torrid heat on Suburban day and the weather has a big impact on his horse.

“He was fourth, beaten [7 ½ lengths] or so in the Suburban,” said Mott. “But that’s the reason we skipped the Whitney and gave him a little rest until earlier September in the hopes that the weather was cooling off a bit. And he seems to be doing well. I mean, he’s bounced back since then, since the Woodward, and I think part of it is because he does better in the cool weather. He feels good and eats better, and he actually seems as though he’s put on a little weight to me. In the last 10 days he looks like he’s filled back out a little bit.”

Shackleford had a longer layoff, and disappointed in the Grade 1 Vanderbilt at the Spa and then decided not to run later in the meet in the Forego after a cough sent him to the sidelines until this weekend. His work tab shows three solid breezes at Churchill Downs and trainer Dale Romans feels he is ready to roll.

 “[The September 23 breeze] was as good of a work as he’s ever had, and we did the right thing by skipping the Forego,” said Romans, who trains the chestnut 4-year-old colt. “We’re looking for a big effort from him.”  He also benefits from having top New York rider Ramon Dominguez in the irons on the former Preakness champion.

One telling handicapping sign is that Hall of Fame rider John Velazquez rode both Shackleford and To Honor and Serve in their respective last races, but has opted to ride To Honor and Serve in the Kelso.

Trainer Richard Dutrow sends out four horses, including James Marvin winner Pacific Ocean (12-1) and Trickmeister (8-1), a horse still looking for his first graded stakes victory.  To Honor and Serve’s only loss in four one-turn mile starts was in the Met Mile to Shackleford, winning the other three, all graded stakes.

One horse that I think might crack the board is Tapizar (6-1) for top trainer Steve Asmussen with Corey Nakatani up. He will be cutting back to the mile distance for the first time in five races and is a Grade 2 winner. I also think Jersey Town could bounce back after sporting a few decent workouts subsequent to his decent finish in the Forego.

Post Time Outlook: 1 – To Honor and Serve; 2- Tapizar; and 3 – Shackleford

Super Saturday Notes

* Friday’s card was cancelled on Thursday based on weather reports of heavy rain to protect the main track and turf course for Saturday’s big card.

* The Pick-6 will feature a $96,841 carryover into Saturday after no one hit the sequence for the second straight day on Thursday.

* The only graded stakes not in the Pick 6 sequence is the Grade 1, $400,000 Beldame Invitational. The Beldame, the fifth race on the card, will serve as the fifth meeting between Royal Delta and It’s Tricky.

 

The field for the Grade 2, $400,000 Kelso Handicap:

   

PP

Horse

Jockey

Wgt

Trainer

Odds

1

Isn't He Perfect

M Luzzi

114

R Dutrow

20-1

2

Golddigger's Boy

J Lezcano

115

R Preciado

12-1

3

Jersey Town

Castellano

116

B Tagg

12-1

4

Tapizar

C Nakatani

117

S Asmussen

6-1

5

To Honor and Serve

J Velazquez

121

W Mott

8-5

6

Shackleford

R Dominguez

121

D L Romans

2-1

7

Gallant Fields

J Rosario

114

R Dutrow

30-1

8

Pacific Ocean

W Garcia

116

R Dutrow

15-1

9

Trickmeister

C Velasquez

116

R Dutrow

8-1

 

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

This Birthday in Buffalo Sports History: Dusty Zeigler

(Born September 27, 1973) -- Fame in the National Football League can be fleeting. Ask Dusty Zeigler.

Zeigler was drafted by the Bills in the sixth round in 1996 after a good career at Notre Dame. He spent his first season, watching and learning like most rookies.

Then he became the answer to a trivia question - who was the Bills’ starting center after Kent Hull. Zeigler spent three years as a starter on the Buffalo offensive line. He moved to right guard in his final year.

Then free agency called, and Zeigler jumped to the New York Giants. In his first year with the Giants, he reached the Super Bowl. New York lost that game to Baltimore. Zeigler started all 16 games in 2001 as well.

Then he lost his starting job, and was out of football at the end of 2002. Since retiring, Zeigler has dabbled in local politics a bit in Georgia.

--- Budd Bailey

This Birthday in Buffalo Sports History: Jeff Quinn

(Born September 26, 1962) -- It’s relatively easy and secure to be an assistant, but usually it’s good to see if you can take that next step. Ask Jeff Quinn.

The current University at Buffalo football coach went to Elmhurst College, graduating in 1984 after serving as a football offensive lineman and as a heavyweight wrestler. He is in Elmhurst’s Athletic Hall of Fame.

Quinn first served as a football assistant coach in DePauw University, where he picked up a Master’s degree. Then it was on to Ohio Northern before landing at Grand Valley State. There he worked with Brian Kelly for the first time, and they stuck together for the next two decades.

The partnership reached its climax at Cincinnati, where the Bearcats climbed up the ladder in the Big East. After the 2009 season, Kelly left for Notre Dame. Quinn might have gone with him as offensive coordinator, but instead he chose to replace Turner Gill as coach at the University at Buffalo.

It’s been a tough rebuilding process for the Bulls, as UB went 5-19 overall and 3-13 in the conference in his first two years. We’ll see how he does in the rest of Year Three.

--- Budd Bailey

This Birthday in Buffalo Sports History: Bob McAdoo

(Born September 25, 1951) -- How to describe Bob McAdoo to someone who didn’t see him in his prime as a superstar with the Buffalo Braves? Let’s see ... he played a lot like Dirk Nowitzki of the Mavericks, only better.

McAdoo was one of the best in the business for his time here. He played junior college basketball in Indiana and then landed at North Carolina, where he was an All-American under Dean Smith. McAdoo became the Braves’ first-round draft pick in 1972.

The center/forward was rookie of the year in 1972-73. Then the Braves traded Elmore Smith and moved McAdoo to center, and his game and the team took off. McAdoo teamed with such players as Ernie DiGregorio and Randy Smith to form an exciting offensive machine.

The Braves made the playoffs for three straight years, and McAdoo won the NBA’s MVP award in 1974-75. A contract dispute led to a trade with the Knicks, and it could be argued that the Buffalo team was never the same.

McAdoo bounced around a bit after that, but did win two NBA titles with the Los Angeles Lakers. Then he headed to Italy to play for seven years, only to return as an assistant coach with Miami. McAdoo still likes to talk about his days in Buffalo, though.

--- Budd Bailey

This Birthday in Buffalo Sports History: John McDonald

(Born September 24, 1974) -- The Buffalo Bisons have been lucky enough to have some superb infielders  wear their uniform over the years. John McDonald certainly was in that class.

McDonald grew up in Connecticut, and was drafted by the Indians in 1996. He started out with Watertown in the New York-Penn League, and worked his way up to Buffalo.

The shortstop arrived here in 1999. In 66 games, he hit .316 and displayed that great glove. He played in Buffalo for the next two years as well, with briefs stops in Cleveland each time.

Finally in 2002, the Indians gave McDonald a good dose of playing time, and he fielded .986. He remained a spare infielder for Cleveland until 2005. From there it was on to Toronto, Detroit and Toronto again. With the Blue Jays in 2007 he hit his peak with 353 plate appearances.

McDonald arrived in the National League in 2011, when Toronto dealt him to Arizona. He’s still playing for the Diamondbacks this year. McDonald has played parts of 14 years in the majors, so you’d have to say he’s gotten the most out of his ability.

--- Budd Bailey

Reading roundup: The season's football books

Need something to do between football games at this time of year? There are plenty of books out there on the college and pro game.

Here's a roundup of some of this year's titles. For a more complete review, click on the title to go to my blog dedicated to sports books:

Promises to Keep - Floyd Little with Tom Mackie - 3 stars - The Hall of Famer talks about what he overcame to reach Canton, including poverty and some bad pro teams.

Paterno - Joe Posnanski - 4 stars - This is a full portrait of the legendary Penn State coach. The problem is that the Jerry Sandusky scandal struck whlie the author was finishing it up. It's still worth your time, but we probably need to let some months go by to get full perspective on Paterno's life.

Perfection - Bob Griese  and Dave Hyde - 4 stars - Bills' fans might not want to read about a great Dolphins' team from the 70's, since they beat up on Buffalo twice. Still, this is a very good look at the only unbeaten team in NFL history. Hyde does a nice job of adding background information to Griese's observations.

Sapp Attack - Warren Sapp with David Fisher - 3 stars - Sapp was as quick off the line of scrimmage as he was with his mouth, and he gets to spout off for more than 300 pages here. It's not particularly well organized, more like a long run-on chapter, but has some good stories and insights.

Best of Rivals - Adam Lazarus - 3 stars - The author, who did a good job reviewing the Bills-Giants Super Bowl, moves into the quarterback battle between Joe Montana and Steve Young. It's obviously rare to have two Hall of Famers at the same position, and this recounts that era nicely enough. Still, Niners' fans are the obvious target for this one.

--- Budd Bailey

« Older Entries