Quick guide to the Triple-A All-Star Game
blog by Ben Tsujimoto • July 11, 2012 @ 9:56am
After Buffalo Bison Valentino Pascucci and celebrity Rob Gronkowski brought the fireworks to Coca-Cola Field in Monday’s Home Run Derby, the mid-week spectacle—the Triple-A All-Star Game between the Pacific Coast League and the International League—runs tonight at 7. It’s a matter of time before many of these high-level minor league stars reach the majors, and the rosters blend veterans with MLB experience and hyped youngsters on a rapid pace to the big leagues.
Fewer than 400 tickets—priced at $25 apiece—are still available according to the Bisons’ box office, and they can be purchased by calling (716) 846-2000 or visiting Tickets.com.
As you’re munching on your Coca-Cola Field french fries—endorsed regularly by our own S.J.—and sipping on a delicious craft brew, here are a few names that may vaguely ring a bell. (To learn about the top two prospects in the game, read this write-up by the Buffalo News’ Amy Moritz.)
—Dugout memories: If you peer into both dugouts throughout tonight’s game, you’ll see a few familiar faces. Pacific Coast League manager Marty Brown buoyed the Bisons to the IL’s Governor’s Cup back in 2004, and the Buffalo News’ Mike Harrington wrote a detailed report about his return. PCL coach Russ Morman, the Bisons’ Team MVP in 1993, and Blake Ilsley, a Buffalo pitcher in 1997, join Brown on the staff—the three were never teammates in the Queen City, but WNY memories will abound. On the IL side, former Cub great Ryne Sandberg was chosen as manager—beware the Rhino.
—Park of Glory: The Bisons are celebrating their 25th season at Coca-Cola Field, even if the name has changed five times since the first pitch on April 14, 1988. If it’s been a few years since you’ve been down to the ballpark, but you’ve been captivated by all the positive press and momentum from the Home Run Derby, there’ve been a few changes—including a massive scoreboard. Here’s a few insider tips from our own Ben Kirst.
The Atlantic Cities’ Mark Byrnes crafted a post on the history of Coca-Cola Field and the tease of an MLB franchise in Buffalo in both 1969 and 1991. Go here to assemble your “25 Seasons Team” by choosing your favorite Bisons over the last two-and-a-half decades.
—Former major leaguers: Syracuse’s Zach Duke (Nationals) has 168 MLB starts to his name, while Lehigh infielder Kevin Frandsen played 228 games in the majors with San Francisco and Anaheim. Matt LaPorta, another former Bison, was once touted as the successor to Cleveland’s Travis Hafner, but hasn’t quite panned out.
Home Run Derby contestant Dan Johnson, who was eked out by Pascucci, was the Tampa Bay Rays’ regular season hero in 2011, slamming a homer with two outs in the bottom of the ninth against the Yankees to send the the game into extra innings. Manager Joe Maddon left Johnson off the playoff roster, however, and his ecstasy was short-lived. Minnesota’s Star Tribune pieced together a “fall-from-grace” article on Johnson’s heroics.
(Photo of Coca-Cola Field courtesy of Jeff Noto from Independence Day 2011).