Skip to primary navigation Skip to main content

This Birthday in Buffalo Sports History: Justin Turner

(Born November 23, 1984) -- The career of Justin Turner is far from over, but he’s had a couple of moments as a baseball player that only could be called memorable.

Turner was born in Long Beach, Cal., and was good enough to move on to the roster of Cal State Fullerton. The infielder was part of the 2004 team there that won the College World Series.

Turner was drafted by the Reds in 2006, but was traded to the Orioles in Dec. 2008. He notched his first major league hit in Yankee Stadium while playing for the O’s in Dec. 2009.

Turner stayed there in the Orioles’ organization until Baltimore released him in 2010. The Mets grabbed him and assigned him to Buffalo. On the last day of the 2010 season in Rochester, Turner hit for the cycle and had six hits on the day.

Turner was called up to the Mets in 2011, and his first major-league homer highlighted a day in which he drove in five runs. He was named rookie of the month for May 2011. Turner served as a utility infielder for New York in 2012.

--- Budd Bailey

This Birthday in Buffalo Sports History: Van Miller

(Born November 22, 1927) -- It seems like a good day to celebrate “Van-demonium.” He provided the soundtrack to Western New York sports for decades.

Miller grew up in Dunkirk, and started his career by broadcasting high school games there. Then Buffalo called, and Van was ready. The Bills began playing in the American Football League, and he was the voice of the team from Day One. Miller stayed on that job through 2003, except for a seven-year stretch in the 1970s when WBEN lost the broadcasting rights.

Miller wasn’t just a football announcer though. He broadcast the games of the Buffalo Braves and Stallions, and did some work for the University at Buffalo and Niagara.

Oh, and he was a fixture on Channel 4’s newscasts for decades as well. And Miller was the host of a bowling show, and the teen quiz program “It’s Academic.” He did some local radio work too.

Miller is in all sorts of Halls of Fame, including the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame. To use the cliche, all such honors are “well deserved.”

--- Budd Bailey

This Birthday in Buffalo Sports History: Jim Ringo

(Born November 21, 1931) -- Jim Ringo’s football career was filled with success. There was one exception, and it was hardly all his fault.

Ringo was born in New Jersey and played college football at Syracuse University. He was a not-so-massive 211 pounds when the Green Bay Packers drafted him in the seventh round, but he was smart and tough. Ringo was part of the great Packers’ teams in the early 1960s, and made seven straight Pro Bowls along the way.

According to legend, Ringo showed up in Vince Lombardi’s office in 1964 with an agent, and Lombardi immediately traded him to the Eagles. Ringo made three more Pro Bowls before retirement.

Ringo went into coaching, and was the offensive line coach for the Bills when O.J. Simpson ran wild from 1972 to 1975. When Lou Saban quit as head coach in 1976, Ringo was promoted to head coach. The Bills, in the midst of massive problems, went 3-20 under Ringo.

So it was back to assistant coaching, as Ringo worked with the Patriots, Rams, Jets and Bills. He died in 2007.

--- Budd Bailey

This Birthday in Buffalo Sports History: John Van Boxmeer

(Born November 20, 1952) -- John Van Boxmeer spent much of his career receiving pay checks with the Buffalo Sabres. However, the checks were mailed to Rochester during a good chunk of that time.

Van Boxmeer was considered a top young talent when he came into the NHL. The defenseman was a first-round draft pick of the Montreal Canadiens in 1972, going 14th overall. Van Boxmeer was even given a ride to Moscow to watch the Summit Series between Canada and the Soviet Union.

He turned pro that fall and split his time between the minors and the Canadiens for years. Van Boxmeer spent all of 1975-76 with the Canadiens, who won the first of four straight Stanley Cups there. However, he was dealt to Colorado in the following season, where he stayed until 1979.

Then he came to the Sabres in a stunning trade for Rene Robert of “French Connection” fame. Van Boxmeer stayed through 1983, serving as a good offensive defenseman with a big shot from the point. Then he was lost to Quebec in the waiver draft.

Van Boxmeer spent more than a decade with the Sabres’ organization as a coach starting in 1984, mostly as Rochester’ head coach but partly (two years) as a Sabre assistant. He went on to other coaching jobs, including a stop in Switzerland.

--- Budd Bailey

This Birthday in Buffalo Sports History: Mike Mularkey

(Born November 19, 1961) -- National Football League head coaching jobs are few and far between. No wonder Mike Mularkey is remembered here for quitting one.

Mularkey paid his dues before reaching Buffalo. He played college football in the early 1980’s at Florida. The tight end moved on to the pros, and spent several years with the Minnesota Vikings and Pittsburgh Steelers.

Then it was on to coaching. He started at a small college in 1993 and was back in the NFL a few years later. Mularkey worked his way up the ladder to offensive coordinator in Pittsburgh, and he was a hot coaching prospect when the Bills hired him in 2004.

After a slow start, the Bills rallied to finish 9-7 that season. But the team fell to 5-11 in 2005. After team president Tom Donahoe was let go, Mularkey eventually quit his job while citing disagreements with the direction of the organization.

Mularkey worked for the Dolphins and Falcons before landing a head coaching job with Jacksonville entering the 2012 season. Time will tell how that works out for him and the Jaguars.

--- Budd Bailey

This Birthday in Buffalo Sports History: Ted Sator

(Born November 18, 1949) -- The hockey career of Ted Sator took all sorts of odd stops; it was anything but conventional.

Sator played college hockey at Bowling Green and turned pro ... for three games. A knee injury while playing for the Long Island Ducks of the Eastern League ended any dreams Sator might have had in that sense.

So he turned to coaching in 1982. After some time in Sweden, Sator landed an assistant’s spot in Philadelphia and was hired by the Rangers as head coach. Sator helped New York reach the conference finals in 1986 but was fired the following season after a 5-12 start.

Sator was hired by the Sabres in 1986. He coached them for two seasons, getting Buffalo just over the .500 mark both times. But he couldn’t win a playoff series, and he had trouble getting along with some players. Sator was replaced by Rick Dudley in 1989.

Sator was an assistant coach with several NHL teams, and served as the head coach of the New Orleans Brass for five years starting in 1998. He’s served in a wide variety of roles over the years, including a stint as coach of Hungary’s national team.

--- Budd Bailey

This Birthday in Buffalo Sports History: George Stallings

(Born November 17, 1867) -- Fans love the idea of having a miracle worker guiding their favorite team. The Buffalo Bisons had one such manager, although he left town before his nickname became “The Miracle Manager.”

George Stallings was born in Georgia in 1867 and graduated from Virginia Military Academy. From there he entered professional baseball in 1888 and had a variety of stops in the minors, including Toronto through the next decade or so. Stallings spent four games with Brooklyn in 1890, and then returned to play three more contests much later in the decade.

Stallings’ playing career ended in 1900, but he had already done some managing by then. Stallings joined the Bisons as skipper in 1902, and stayed through 1906. He returned to the job in 1911 and added two more years to his time here.

The Boston Braves hired him in 1913, and he suffered through a poor season. It looked like more of the same in 1914, when the Braves were in last place in late July. Then they caught fire, and somehow raced up the standings to win 52 of 66 games and take the National League pennant. Then they swept the Athletics to take the Series, earning the nickname “the Miracle Braves.”

Stallings stayed in Boston through 1920, and then managed Rochester for seven years. He died of heart disease at the age of 61.

--- Budd Bailey

Post Time: 2012 Projections at a glance

By Gene Kershner

It’s a slow time in the thoroughbred racing world, so let’s take a timeout this week and take a glance back at some of my 2012 predictions that I concocted last December at the EquiSpace blog. On an annual basis for the past three years I’ve made some bold predictions by looking into a crystal ball relating to the upcoming year in horse racing. We didn’t fare too badly, but let’s look closely at my top 10 projected moments of 2012 now that the racing year is practically in the books.

1.       Horse from the outside gate will win the Derby.  I wish I would have listened to myself on this one. A week before the Derby, I was touting I’ll Have Another, but like many, was spooked the moment he drew post No. 19. No horse had ever won from that post. Of course, he won chasing down a game Bodemeister from the outside gate and giving me for a short period of time a batting average of 1.000.  (1 for 1)

2.       One of the Classics will end in a photo. When the photo sign went up at the Preakness, I was in full on Kreskin-mode. Stop the race. What a beautiful thing. (2 for 2)

3.       A female jockey will be ITM in one of the Classics. All good things have to come to an end. With only one chance, Rosie Napravnik on Five Sixteen (who unfortunately passed away this week) in the Belmont, this one died on the vine. Rosie also had a mount on Derby hopeful Mark Valeski, but he was pulled out a week before the race. Ironically, she became the first female jockey to win the Kentucky Oaks and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, so I wasn’t too far off. (2 for 3)

4.       The Florida Derby will wield us the Derby winner. Take Charge Indy, my pick for third in the paper, started to make a move on the far turn, but came up injured with a bone chip and the Florida Derby champ finished next to last. The Santa Anita Derby was the prep that delivered I’ll Have Another, the first time in 23 years that the winner of that race prevailed in Louisville. (2 for 4)

5.       One of the three winners of the Canadian classics will win a graded stake later in the year. While the year has a six weeks left, it appears neither Prince of Wales winner Dixie Strike or Breeders Stakes winner Irish Mission will run again this year. The Plate winner, Strait of Dover, was sidelined with an injury after the race and will not race again in 2012. We’re going sharpie on this one. (2 for 5)

6.       Haskell hat is yellow. I went with yellow since the giveaway hat hasn’t been that color since 2002 and I thought it most certainly would be due. I attended this year’s race at beautiful Monmouth Park and arrived to a sea of blue hats. Boo. (2 for 6…starting to stagger home)

7.       Pletcher will win the Saratoga Training Title. No way that I was getting shut out completely. This was the 2-footer, the gimme. He won going away, besting his next closest competitor, Chad Brown, by seven wins, finishing with the top total of 36. (3 for 7)

8.       Santa Anita will be awarded the 2013 Breeders’ Cup. There was some speculation a smaller track, like Monmouth in New Jersey would be awarded the ’13 Cup. However, Santa Anita prevailed for the second year in a row; the BC will be headed to California. (4 for 8)

9.       The BC Classic winner will go off at odds greater than 10-1. Ouch. Fort Larned went off at 9.4-1. Can we round up? Can’t get any closer than that. That’s a tough one to put in the loss column. (4 for 9)

10.   A scandal will rock the racing industry. Ok, so that’s a pretty subjective and wide open topic. I’m going to say the NYRA botching of the takeout rate increase resulting in the untimely dismissal of CEO Charlie Hayward and VP/Chief Counsel Patrick Kehoe qualifies as a scandal. Emails between Daily Racing Form editor Steven Crist and Hayward eventually led to his downfall and the revamping of the NYRA board after Governor Andrew Cuomo assumed control. (5 for 10).

The channeling of my inner Kreskin results in a 50 percent showing for 2012, easily my best effort in several years, and was sniffing a couple of the other predictions. I’ve already started working on 2013’s big picks, so stay tuned in December when I release next year’s list.

Gene Kershner, a Buffalo-based turf writer, is a member of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association, and tweets @EquiSpace.

This Birthday in Buffalo Sports History: Dwight Gooden

(Born November 16, 1964) -- Dwight Gooden had a frequently spectacular major-league baseball career. It was all but over by the time he made brief appearances in Buffalo.

The pitcher grew up in Tampa and was taken in the first round by the Mets in 1982. He had a sensational year in A-ball, and New York manager Davey Johnson thought Gooden was ready to help the Mets already. He was right.

Johnson won 17 games as a 19-year-old, and a year later completely dominated the National League in winning the Cy Young Award. He was very good in helping the Mets win the World Series title in 1986. He might have been the best young pitcher ever.

But then problems started. He was arrested for cocaine possession the following spring, and had some ups and downs for the next several years. The Mets gave up on him after 1994, and he popped up with the Yankees and Indians.

Gooden turned up in Buffalo in 1998 for four games, and one more in 1999. He finished with a 1-3 record. Gooden’s last appearance in the minors was in 2000.

--- Budd Bailey

Running notebook: Waves of enthusiasm

Did you ever think there would be a 5-kilometer race in which the field was so big that it had to go off in waves? Saturday's Lindsay's Legacy Run was that day.

About 2,000 runners registered for the race, a simply amazing total. Part of the success story there is the growth of "Girls on the Run," which has taken off in a relatively short time. That portion of the field again took over a Tonawanda street before and after the race. I wondered if the race had outgrown its postrace home of the American Legion Hall, but using the street helps thin out the inside gathering. Besides, at this rate organizers will need the First Niagara Center for its party in a year or two.

Elsewhere, just for fun I did a search to see if anything was up with Rapid Running, the group that cancelled the half-marathon in Orchard Park in June on short notice. I found a story that it was looking for an alternate location for its cancelled Sheboygan, Wisc., half-marathon in October. I also found a number of people posting complaints about a lack of refunds. Wisconsin government officials were investigating. All of this may, ahem, sound familiar.

The calendar is getting lighter, here's what Buffalorunners.com has coming up:

* Michelle's Memorial 5K, 28 Main St. in Middleport, 9 a.m. Saturday, 783-2432. Good to see the Mr. Ed's Race get some company on Middleport's race calendar.

* Maritime March 5K, 170 Ohio St. in Buffalo, 11 a.m. Saturday, 574-4101. This race has a new location, as organizers wisely figured that having the run in one spot (around LaSalle Park) and having part of the postrace festivities in another spot was not ideal. Running around the Waterfront should work better in that sense. Funny how many races are right by the water after Nov. 1.

--- Budd Bailey

« Older Entries Newer Entries »