Buffalo Sports History

Ever since I started this blog I have planned on writing a three-part series on sleep: 1). the necessity and many health benefits of sleep, 2). how sleep deprivation harms individuals, and in particular, my experiences with sleep deprivation that contributed to my horrible period as a medical resident, 3). new rules for medical residency programs that roll back regulations designed to reduce sleep deprivation and improve clinical performance.

However, with Thanksgiving coming up next week- I, like everyone else, will be busy with family on Thursday, then Friday my sister and I will be decorating our house for Christmas, and any potential readers of my blog will likely be occupied

doing holiday activities- I have decided to put off starting this critical series until the first week of December so that it can run uninterrupted for three consecutive weeks.

That said I wanted to discuss today the new exhibit at the Buffalo History Museum called Buffalo Icons. It opened yesterday and was free to the public so I took advantage of this one-day benefit. As a nearly life-long Buffalo resident and loyal fan/participant (going back to my high school football and bowling days at Canisius High School), local sports have a prominent place in my sentimental heart. I have attended countless Buffalo Bills, Sabres and Bisons games through the years- particularly memorable contests were the opening Bisons game at the new Pilot Field in 1988; the AFC Championship Game following the 1991 season (Bills 10, Denver Broncos 7; the winning touchdown scored by linebacker Carlton Bailey on an interception return) and the 1993 season (Bills 30, K.C. Chiefs 13; Bills Hall of Fame running back Thurman Thomas ran wild with 186 rushing yards and three TDs, while HOF defensive end Bruce Smith knocked out legendary QB Joe Montana on a ferocious concussion-inducing hit); and the 2008 National Lacrosse League Championship Game when the Buffalo Bandits won their 4th league title.

The exhibit contained jerseys of many of the Bills and Sabres all-time best players as well as large screen TVs showing video highlights of the most memorable moments in Buffalo sports history. But there were many artifacts- old, unusual and unique- that really stood out. Original seats from two legendary, long-gone Buffalo venues- a pair of 1937 seats from War Memorial Stadium and three 1940 blue seats from War Memorial Auditorium, as well as two seats and a turnstile dating back to the 1973 opening of Rich Stadium, now New Era Field. A commemorative steel sword imprinted with the Buffalo Sabres logo and a facsimile signature of then-coach Punch Imlach that was given to only a few of the season-ticket holders for the inaugural 1970-'71 season and one of the original red goal lamps from the Aud. A jersey worn by Bills QB Jack Kemp who led the team to back-to-back American Football League titles in 1964 and '65, and then after his retirement from football became a long-time Congressman representing Western New York, as well as a "Jack Kemp For President" campaign pin from his failed run in 1988 for the Republican nomination. A 1982 NHL All-Star Game jersey worn by Gilbert Perreault, as well as a game-day program and ticket from the game in 1986 when Perreault scored his 500th career goal. A 1975 O.J. Simpson action figure doll, from when the Hall of Fame running back was still famous for being a star with the Bills and the first player to rush for 2,000 yards in a season, rather than his notorious trial and acquittal for allegedly killing his wife and her friend, and then spending nine years in prison for armed robbery, just being released last month. The fur coat that Van Miller, long-time Buffalo Bills play-by-play announcer, wore while broadcasting colder late-season games. A photo of the 1900 Buffalo Germans basketball team- a dominant amateur squad founded by a local YMCA director in the 1890s that was declared world champions after winning the gold medal at the 1904 Summer Olympics in St. Louis, back before a national all-star team was selected to represent the country at international events (and one of only ten teams to be inducted into the Naismith National Basketball Hall of Fame). And a baseball signed by Warren Spahn, a south Buffalo native, who attended South Park High School, and went on to a Hall of Fame professional baseball career- with 363 wins, he is the all-time winningest left-handed pitcher in major league history.

That is just a sample of the great memorabilia collected for this exhibit. If you live in the Buffalo area and happen to be a fan of local sports history, I highly recommend paying a visit to the History Museum and soak in this wonderful slice of nostalgia (although you will have to pay a small fee unlike me).

#BuffaloBills #BuffaloSabres #BuffaloBisons #CanisiusHighSchool #BuffaloHistoryMuseum #JoeMontana #ThurmanThomas #BruceSmith #BuffaloBandits #JackKemp #OJSimpson #GilbertPerreault #VanMiller #WarrenSpahn

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© 2017 by Peter McNeela.