Click here for ’09 schedule and event listings.
There is nothing in the local Buffalo sports scene like opening day. This is especially true in baseball, and even more so at the newly named Coca Cola Field. At this point in the season, every team is undefeated, so everyone can be champion, if only for a day.
After 15 years, the Buffalo Bisons have changed their major league affiliation from the Cleveland Indians to the New York Mets, giving Buffalo’s unofficial favorite major league team, the New York Yankees, a run for their money. The Bisons were last affiliated with the New York Mets in 1965. Not many fans know that this is the 124th year of professional baseball in Buffalo.
Opening pitch of the season by Buffalo Bison pitcher Jonathon Niese (#49)
Following are some interesting facts for this baseball season: Former world series player (St. Louis Cardinals 1982) and champion Ken Oberkfell (#24) is the manager of the Buffalo Bisons. Five of the Mets top prospects are on the triple A team, one step just below the Major Leagues. Ranked by Baseball America, they are outfielder Fernando Martinez (#3), Left Hand Pitcher Jonathon Niese (#49), 1st baseman Nick Evans (#21), Right Hand Pitcher Eddie Kunz (#54) and Right Hand Pitcher Dillon Gee (#29). Look for the Bisons’ strengths to be team speed and pitching. Fernando Martinez is the youngest Bison since 1993 – he’s not even 21 years old!
Jonathan Malo (#7), second baseman, leads off for the Bisons at the bottom of the first inning
As for the stadium food, it’s another great lineup this year. Hot slider and kosher dogs. Chicken wings, fingers and sandwiches, and even NY-style pretzel reubens. My buddy from Manhattan swears that Dippin Dots is the best ice cream on the planet, although ice cream was a tough sell with the opening pitch temperature at 42 degrees. Even if you miss coming out to the ballpark, many of the Buffalo Bisons’ games can be viewed this year on cable television channel 13 or listened to via radio channel WWKB 1520 on the am dial.
It wouldn’t be baseball in Buffalo without Mr. Conehead
There are special nights all season long. For the kids, keep an eye out for Peter Pan Cap night, Youth Jersey Night, Girl Scout Camp-out, the Famous Chicken appearance, as well as Back to School Night. Different days of the week feature Business Person’s Matinees, Markdown Mondays and even Friday Night Bashes with live bands and fireworks. And speaking of fireworks, you get the best of the season at the Independence Eve Celebration with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. Different ethnicities are celebrated with Irish Festival Night, Native American Night, Italian Festival Night and Polish Festival Night. The most unique games are Baseball Bingo, Darryl Strawberry Bobble Head and Appearance Day, Dog Days at the Park where dogs sit on the Berm, and finally Fan Appreciation Night.
Former Bisons greats honored on the outfield wall
But enough about that. Let’s get back to the game! Although just being at the ballpark is important to fans, the outcome of the game is even more crucial. in the game itself the Bisons fell behind early, rallied through the middle innings, but just fell short. Despite the loss, we couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful sunny spring day to open the season!
Bisons Championship Corner in the left field bleachers