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A look into the long history of former Bisons as World Series managers


It's not often you get the chance to see a former Bisons player lead his team to the World Series…

Or is it?

With the matchup set for this year's fall classic, not only is one team lead by a former Herd player, but BOTH teams are.

Of course on the National League side, the Dodgers are led by Buffalo Baseball Hall of Famer and Bisons modern era stolen base king, Dave Roberts. The outfielder played 276 games with the Herd from 1998-2001 and racked up 97 stolen bases… 27 more than another Bison. He also ranks sixth in the modern era with 194 runs scored, eighth with 305 hits and sixth with 17 triples.

And then there are the Red Sox, led by first-year manager, Alex Cora. The former infielder has a 'little' less history with the Herd, but did suit up for three road games for the 2009 Bisons in a MLB injury rehab assignment. Cora hit in all three of those games played at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.

What's even more impressive is having former Bisons as managers in the World Series have almost become a yearly tradition. This year marks the fourth time in the last six years at least one former Bison has led his team to the fall classic. Former Buffalo pitcher John Farrell guided the Red Sox to a championship in 2013 while Terry Collins' Mets fell short in 2015 against the Royals. Roberts, of course, was also in the World Series last year against the Astros.

Even having former Bisons for both managers is not unique. The 1980 World Series between the Phillies and the Royals featured two teams with former Herd players on the bench. Philadelphia's Dallas Green went 12-9 in 28 games and 26 starts for the Herd, 1959-1960. A year later, the eventual Kansas City manager, Jim Frey, began a two-year stint in Buffalo outfield where he picked up 26 home runs and 106 RBI in 249 games. The Phillies won the '80 series, four games to two.

And with how many times former Bisons infielder Joe McCarthy led the Yankees to the World Series, he was bound to face someone with Buffalo ties. In 1938, McCarthy led the pinstripes past the Chicago Cubs in a sweep, who were led by another baseball Hall of Famer, Gabby Hartnett. While not a 'former' Bison at the time, Hartnett would eventually come to Western New York to manager the Herd in 1946.

1890 Bisons' catcher Connie Mack went to the World Series five times, with wins with his Philadelphia A's in 1910, 1911 and 1913. George Stallings won the 1914 World Series with the Boston Braves while Bucky Harris took the Washington Senators to back-to-back series in 1924 and 1925, defeating the New York Giants in 1924. Both are former Bisons in Cooperstown. The only Bisons pitcher to ever win the International League MVP award (41), Fred Hutchison guided the Cincinnati Reds to a championship 20 years later. Steve O'Neill (1945) and Edward Mayo Smith (1968) both led the Detroit Tigers to titles after their time with the Bisons.

All of this is no surprise when you remember the first ever World Series-winning manager was, you guessed it, a former Bison…Boston American's skipper and Niagara Falls-born Jimmy Collins, who defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates in eight games in 1903.

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