News & Notes – Game: 1 (Season Opener)
Today, the Buffalo Bisons open up their 124th year of professional baseball in Buffalo with the first game of a four-game series with the Pawtucket Red Sox (3:05 p.m.). Today’s game is also the start of an eight-game homestand as the Herd will welcome Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to town on Monday for a four-game series.
For the first time in 15 years, the Bisons have a new parent club. The Bisons signed a two-year Player Development Contract with the New York Mets this off-season. Buffalo had been aligned with Cleveland since the 1995 season. Buffalo was New York’s first Triple-A farm club, from 1963-1965. The Bisons have played 4,873 regular season games since the last time they were the Mets Triple-A club.
Today’s News & Notes
REFRESHING NEW NAME: Today’s game marks the Bisons’ first at this ballpark under its new name. Coca-Cola Field is now the home of the Bisons. Buffalo is 891-611 (.593) in 1,502 games in this ballpark, including a 13-8 mark in home openers.
LEADING THE HERD: This will be Ken Oberkfell’s first game as the Buffalo Bisons manager. He is the 15th manager in the team’s Modern Era. A 16-year major league veteran, Oberkfell won a World Series Championship with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1982. He has a career record of 812-803 (.503) in 12 years as a minor league manager. He’s spent the last four seasons as the manager of the Mets’ Triple-a squad.
MAJOR EXPERIENCE: The Bisons Opening Day roster features 17 players who have played in the major leagues during their career (71%). Additionally, 14 of those players appeared in a big league game last year. INF Rob Mackowiak leads the club with 856 big league games while RHP Elmer Dessens leads all Bisons pitchers with 360 major league appearances.
THE UP AND COMERS: The Bisons Opening Day roster contains 5 of the Mets top prospects, according to Baseball America. Headlining the list is New York’s top prospect, OF Fernando Martinez. LHP Jonathon Niese (#3), INF Nick Evans (#9), RHP Eddie Kunz (#10) and RHP Dillon Gee (#17) are also in BA’s Mets Top 20.
VS PAWSOX: Today’s game is the third time in the Modern Era the Bisons have opened a season hosting the Pawtucket Red Sox. The Bisons defeated the PawSox 5-2 on April 5, 2001 and again on April 3, 2003 by a score of 10-8. Since returning to the IL in 1998, the Bisons are 94-82 against Pawtucket for a .534 winning percentage.
YOUNG STAR: OF Fernando Martinez is just 20 years and 178 days old today. He’s the youngest Bisons player since C Angelo Encarnacion, who was 20 years and 135 days old when he played with Buffalo on September 1, 1993. Other recent notable Bisons 20-year olds include INF Asdrubal Cabrera (20y, 234d), RHP Fausto Carmona (20yr, 273d) and INF Jhonny Peralta (20yr, 310d). INF Brandon Phillips made his Bisons debut in 2002 on his 21st birthday.