1. Manager on ?manager crime
Wally Backman vs. Tony Beasley was minor compared to this one: The last time the benches cleared was on Aug. 31, 2006, in the 13th inning of the final home game of the season. Bisons manager Torey Lovullo was arguing with umpires when pitcher Jason Stanford was tossed and got in the way of a Rochester pitcher, preventing him from taking warm-ups. Wings manager Stan Cliburn didn't like that and charged out of the dugout but was intercepted by players from both teams before he could get to Lovullo. "I couldn't replay in my head exactly what happened," Lovullo said. "I might say something out of line if I did. It just happened and I'm not proud of it."
2. Umpire on ?manager crime
Rookie ump Bobby Price had to be restrained from going after Lovullo during an argument over balls and strikes on a cold May day in 2008. The ump appeared to chest-bump the Buffalo manager and had to be pulled away from him before the ejected Lovullo, who stood with his hands in his back pocket, left the premises. Afterward, Lovullo was asked if he thought the ump was actually going to take a swing at him. "I have no idea what he was so mad about. None," Lovullo said.
3. Call 911
Legendary Indianapolis radio man Howard Kellman has been coming to Buffalo every series since 1985 and his booming voice is a familiar one throughout the Midwest. Former Herd voice Pete Weber loved to tease Kellman, constantly changing the TV channel in his booth to the Cartoon Network when he wasn't looking and then teaming with Buster Bison one night late in the 1992 season. It seems Buster, at Weber's urging, pumped some dry ice smoke under the door of Kellman's booth – leading the startled announcer to tell his radio audience he had a fire to tend to. Of course there was none.
4. Bad timing
Bisons cleanup hitter Chris Coste was ejected for slamming his helmet down past first base when called out on the tail end of a double play to end the fourth inning of the decisive Game Five of the 2001 IL semifinals against Scranton. It seemed like a quick thumb given the significance of the game and was really magnified when it took 19 innings for the Bisons to finally lose. Double-A call-up Mike Edwards went 0 for 5 in Coste's spot and left two men on in the 16th.
?5. Shortest Nights
Lee Hancock was a hard-luck, 2-1 loser to Louisville in just 1 hour, 42 minutes on Aug. 5, 1993, R.A. Dickey needed just 1:45 to toss his "Imperfect Perfect Game" one-hitter against Durham on April 29, 2010 and Randy Kramer needed just 1:47 to one-hit Richmond, 3-0, on June 16, 1988. John Murphy borrowed a line from Ferris Bueller on WBEN Radio a few minutes after that one ended, chiding fans by saying, "What are you people still doing here? It's over. Go. Go home."
6. Latest Night
Everything was normal on July 16, 2004, when the Bisons won the first game of a Friday night makeup doubleheader over Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, 11-1, and did it in 121 minutes. Then the second game started. Scranton won it in 16 innings, 8-3, and the time of 5:07 is the third-longest downtown. It produced the latest finish ever: The last out was made at 1:47 a.m. The total time of 7:39 is the longest for a twinbill.
7. Best tantrum
It easily came in a 1991 game against Iowa when plate umpire Angel Hernandez dubiously ruled that Buffalo's Joe Redfield had slid across the plate safely with two out in the bottom of the ninth at the tail end of a rundown. I-Cubs catcher Erik Pappas went berserk, jumping up and down in front of the umpire, and lost his mind when he got ejected. As he walked back to the dugout, Pappas stripped most of his gear – mask, chest protector and helmet – and tossed it back at the plate. When he reached the dugout, off went the shin guards helicoptering toward the umpire as well. Pappas earned a two-game suspension.
8. Run, dummy, run
That's what Kevin Costner yelled in "Bull Durham" and what the Bisons wanted to tell Triple-A rookie Rich Aude after his walk-off homer beat Louisville here in 1994. Aude admired the ball and flipped his bat away before starting around the bases as Redbirds pitcher Rob Wishnevski screamed at him and several players came out of the dugout to yell at him. The situation was defused, but Wishnevski got his message through when he drilled Aude in the back two months later.
9. Full Moon Night
After some words on the field nearly escalated into blows, some Louisville players nearly charged into the third-base stands during Game Four of the 1995 American Association finals. Players said fans were using profanity and making obscene gestures. Beer was tossed. A Louisville player threw a baseball in the crowd and a fan fired it back, further drawing the Redbirds' ire. Then came this classic from catcher Marc Ronan: "A couple guys grabbed themselves and one of them mooned us."
10. Fair or Foul
The Bisons beat Scranton, 5-4, in a 1990 game that saw the decisive run score on Steve Kiefer's inside-the-park home run in the fourth inning. An inning earlier, Armando Moreno cleared the left-field wall with a drive of his own. Or did he? The ball clearly hit the padding on the foul side of the wall but two umpires, blinded by the early-evening sun, ruled it hit the foul pole and gave the Bisons two gift runs.
11. Oddest do-over
Turned out the bad call meant Scranton had to lose the game twice. The Red Barons protested the game when pinch-hitter Floyd Rayford was not allowed to bat in the ninth because he wasn't on the lineup card. Two days later, the Triple-A Alliance office ruled the teams had to finish the game from that point with the score 5-3 instead of 5-4. A single and a double play later, the Bisons had their win. Only by a different score.
12. Opening homestand
Everyone remembers the first game on April 14, 1988. But what a weird homestand. The next night's game was postponed by snow despite the team's attempts to spray water from fire hoses onto the outfield to remove the snow. Day Three saw a 14-3 loss to Denver in a game played through snow flurries. And Day Four saw the Zephyrs present a tongue-in-cheek wish list to reporters for the new ballpark. One item read: "$42 million and there's no clock?"
13. Watch ?your wave
Players in the Bisons' bullpen quickly got the attention of trainers during a Kids Day game in 1991 when an 18-year-old fan leading children in the wave fell backwards out of the bleachers and landed on the warning track. The fan was attended on the warning track and removed from the field via ambulance but, amazingly, his injuries were limited to a facial fracture and concussion.
14. Which team ?are you on?
Sometimes during those exhibitions that used to be held with the parent club, guys might end up changing sides. Such was the case in 1996 when Bisons second baseman Joe Lis played for the Indians – and hit a home run against his own team in an eventual 3-3 tie.
15. Hazardous duty
Bisons second baseman Kevin Burdick suffered a broken jaw and missed several weeks after being struck in the face by a foul ball in the dugout during a 1989 game. There were no barriers in front of the dugouts to protect players and coaches until 2000, when new manager Joel Skinner asked for them to be erected so his young son could serve as a batboy.
16. Worst injury
There was no worse incident than the line drive Kyle Denney took to the head on his sixth pitch of the game to leadoff hitter Joey Gathright of Durham in 2005. Denney was struck above the ear, suffering a fractured skull and punctured eardrum, and was removed from the field via ambulance. It came nine months after he made national headlines when he was shot in the leg by a stray bullet fired at the Indians' team bus while the Tribe was en route to the Kansas City airport. Denney's wound was largely superficial because he was clad in high boots as part of a cheerleader's outfit he was wearing as part of the Indians' rookie initiation. As it turned out, this injury wasn't funny at all. Denney, a 10-game winner for Buffalo in ‘04, pitched only 11 more pro games before retiring in 2007.
17. Strangest finish
The Bisons posted a 7-6 win over Iowa in a key August pennant race game in 1989 when no one thought anything of note was going to happen. The game was tied in the bottom of the ninth, runners were at second and third and a five-man infield was in place as I-Cubs reliever Mike Capel was walking Steve Henderson intentionally to load the bases. Incredibly, Capel's first pitch was too far wide of the plate and rolled to the backstop as Kevin Burdick scooted home with the winning run. Said Burdick: I've never seen a run scored that way before, let alone to end a game."
18. No game today
A game against Nashville in 1991 was wiped out on a clear Friday night when a power failure struck the downtown area and the ballpark. A 1992 game against Indianapolis was stopped in the sixth inning and completed the next day as fog rolled in off the lake and made it impossible to see fly balls. Winds of 60 mph struck the ballpark three hours before a 2004 game against Pawtucket and no game was played even though it wasn't raining because of the danger to fans and players from flying debris. A 1997 game against Indianapolis was called by umpires as soon as they got the lineup cards on a sunny April day –because the temperature was 28 degrees.
19. From Buffalo with love
The Bisons wrapped up a 2002 win over Syracuse and quickly headed into the clubhouse when word spread the parent Indians were rallying against Yankees closer Mariano Rivera. A couple minutes later, with most players still in full uniform, the room exploded when utility man Bill Selby stunned Rivera with a walk-off grand slam. Selby had been promoted from Buffalo just two days earlier. "That whole thing was pretty cool, wasn't it?" said a beaming Herd manager Eric Wedge.
20. Weirdest brawl
On the second pitch of a 1990 game with Indianapolis, Bisons ace Dorn Taylor hit Johnny Paredes below the knee. Paredes immediately charged the mound and everyone in the park was confused. "That was from Indy," Paredes said later. Turns out the two had been bench-jockeying two months earlier and Paredes tried to kick Taylor during batting practice the next day. Paredes claimed Taylor promised to hit him and Taylor did.
21. Whose side ?are you on?
Steve Carter gave the Bisons a 6-5 win over Indy with a walk-off three-run homer during a key pennant race game in 1990. It came one batter after a blooper fell in front of Indy right fielder Moises Alou, a week removed from his stint as a Bison after front-office bungling in Pittsburgh forced him to go to Montreal. As the story goes, Indy players confronted Alou in the clubhouse after the game, accusing him of making a play for his old team, and a couple had to be restrained from attacking him.
A 2006 doubleheader against Durham was strange enough because it featured a 16-inning nightcap. But it got really goofy in the 11th inning of that game when a pitch from Durham's Jason Childers to Buffalo's Ramon Vazquez struck a seagull en route and caused Vazquez to swing and miss. Bisons catcher Einar Diaz came out of the dugout to get the bird, which was only slightly injured. Originally called a strikeout, umpires correctly ruled the play dead and no pitch because the ball was interfered with on its way to the plate.
23. Biggest snit
The Richmond Braves nearly took their balls and bats and went home rather than finish the 2004 IL finals here. Hurricane rains and poor field conditions caused the league to keep the series here, rather than return to Richmond, and R-Braves players met in the visiting clubhouse demanding information on per diems and compensation for apartment leases and travel changes before continuing the series. Said pitcher Matt Whiteside: "We said if they're going to do something for us, we don't have a problem staying and playing. If you're not going to do something for us, then we'll just take it to the house [and forfeit the series]."
24. Best quote, ?agitation division
Manager Terry Collins on why Armando Moreno was doubled off second base on a routine pop-up during a 1991 game: "You want to know what happened to Armando Moreno? You want to know? He had a bleeping brain cramp. That's what happened. Write that. Bleeping brain cramp."
25. Best quote, ?agitation division II
Pitcher Brian Anderson gave up 10 runs in a 1996 game to Indianapolis and roasted himself by saying, "I had nothing. It was a joke. I pitched like a total bleep. It was a bleeping joke and you can put that in the paper with the little dot, dot, dot and the ‘ing.' "