by Areeba Bakht, Kaitlyn Barone and Max Snyder
Murphy Smith has seen a lot of baseball in his ten years in the minor leagues. But rarely has he seen a season started like this one. With many of their April home games cancelled due to weather, the team now has to string together double headers to make up the games.
“We kinda enjoyed the highs but not get too high, then obviously if we lose a couple in a row you can’t let that beat you up because every day is a new day out here,” Murphy said.
Still, bonding with teammates on long bus trips has brought a lot of camaraderie to the team, he added.
The Bisons are just a few games below .500, but team members on the historic franchise feels good about where the club is headed. With up-and-coming stars like Vladimir Guerrero Jr. the organization has a bright future ahead of them and exciting baseball for fans from Buffalo and of the Toronto Blue Jays, the team’s major league affiliate.
Smith is one of the 18 pitchers in the Buffalo Bisons organization. The 30-year-old veteran has a 5.40 ERA and a .291 batting average this season.
The MiLB team, founded in 1877, has won many championships, including the Governor’s Cup (6 times) and the North Division (4 times). They were once in the Triple-A World Series Championship, but lost to the New Orleans Zephyrs in 1998. They play their games at Coca-Cola Field, which first opened in 1998. They are the oldest MiLB team in America. The team has a rich history of great players, with the retired numbers of Ollie Carnegie, Luke Easter, Jeff Manto and even Jackie Robinson (even though he didn’t play for the Bisons) hanging on the wall. The top players of all time were Russ Ford, Fred Anderson, Gene Krapp, Baldy Louden, and Al Schulz. The 2018 team has over 30 players, including pitcher Murphy Smith, catcher Reese McGuire and outfielder Darnell Sweeney.
Pat Malacaro, the voice of the Bisons, has been around the team for nearly two decades. He said he is always amazed by the endearing stories he comes across while covering the team.
“Everyone has a different story and a unique story to tell,” Malacaro said. “I think that is our job to tell those stories and that way the games are going to happen. There are 140 games throughout the season.”
Tyler Dunne, a features writer with Bleacher Report, said that he believes that the reason so many people are interested in sports is the connection they feel with the players.
“You are always learning something, you get to see these guys as people,” Dunne said. “They like the fact that their not just robots you plug into a fantasy football lineup. They’re people and that’s what we try to do with our stories.”