The team’s Most Valuable Player wasn’t at Coca-Cola Field to receive his honor.
Outfielder Kevin Pillar was sitting in the dugout at Rogers Centre in Toronto, recalled for the third time to the Blue Jays.
He missed the chance to receive his ovation from the fans as Pillar has helped spark one of the most exciting late seasons of Buffalo Bisons baseball in years.
The annual Bisons team awards were presented on the field during Fan Appreciation Night – the last regular season game.
Pillar was named the Stan Barron MVP after an impressive showing for the Herd. Despite missing 35 games in two different stints with the Blue Jays, he still ranks third in the International League in batting (.323) and leads the league in doubles. His 39 two-baggers rank second all-time in the Bisons modern era to Jhonny Peralta’s 44 in 2004.
Pillar had a 21-game hitting streak, the longest in the IL, from July 25 to Aug. 14. He added an 18-game hitting streak from April 17 to May 6.
Reliever Bobby Korecky won the Warren Spahn Most Valuable Pitcher award.
Korecky is 5-3 with a 2.07 ERA and 20 saves in 22 chances over 52 appearances. His 20 saves are tied for the IL lead, and he leads the league in games finished (38). Korecky began his season with 17 consecutive scoreless appearances totaling 26 innings and allowed just four earned runs over his first 46 outings this season. He was also a midseason all-star and pitched in the Triple-A All-Star Game in Durham.
Other team award winners were Mike Nickeas (Joe De Sa Most Inspirational), Ryan Schimpf (Fremo Vallone Community Service), Kyle Drabek (Judge Dillon Comeback Player) and Raul Valdes (Jimmy Griffin Hometown Hero).
Jim McGowan was named the Joe Byron Fan of the Year. He has been a season-ticket holder since the downtown ballpark opened in 1988. A former principal in the Cleveland Hill School District, McGowan delivers Meals on Wheels in Hamburg every weekday.
The Buffalo Bisons Booster Club also presented its three awards. Pillar was named favorite player, Korecky favorite pitcher and Jonathan Diaz the unsung hero.
Meanwhile, Pillar and Korecky were named International League All-Stars on Tuesday afternoon, giving the Bisons two representatives for the first time since their 2004 Governors Cup championship season.
Korecky is the first Bisons pitcher to get an all-star nod in the modern IL era.
The last time Buffalo had two players on the all-star team came when Peralta earned the spot at shortstop and league MVP honors while Ernie Young, now a member of the Buffalo Baseball Hall of Fame, was an all-star as a designated hitter.
The Bisons had no all-stars during their four-year affiliation with the New York Mets. Last year, Mauro Gomez’s selection at DH ended a six-year all-star drought for the Herd.
Former Bison Mike Hessman, now with Toledo, was named the all-star DH.
Steven Souza Jr. of Syracuse was named the league’s Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year. The 25-year-old is on track to be the IL batting champion with a .354 average in 91 games as the Chiefs are in first place in the North Division.
Pawtucket’s Anthony Ranaudo was named the Most Valuable Pitcher as he leads the league with 14 wins and a 2.61 ERA over 24 starts.
Billy Gardner Jr. of Syracuse was named the Manager of the Year. In his 20th season as a minor league manager, his first at the Triple-A level and first in the Washington Nationals organization, he has the Chiefs poised for their first playoff berth since 1998.