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Sports Then and Now



It’s Over In Buffalo, And That’s Not All Bad 14

Posted on December 18, 2011 by John Wingspread Howell

The Buffalo Sabres are still searching for their first Stanley Cup Championship.

It’s an interesting time to be in Buffalo. For so long, we’ve depended on our sports teams to give us some shred of validation, since we’ve been known to the world for blight, blizzards and chicken wings, whose hot sauce is curiously the same shade as the rust on the infamous Rust Belt, by which we have often been defined.

More recently there have been some signs of life in Buffalo. Some say a renaissance is beginning to break out.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation recently concluded their most successful and best attended convention, here in Buffalo. The draw was the fact that Buffalo has more turn of the century architecture preserved than any major city in North America. Further, other than Chicago, Buffalo is the only city to have signature buildings designed by all four of the first generation of great American architects: Frank Lloyd Wright, Daniel Burnham, Louis Sullivan and H. H. Richardson.

At least two major architectural landmarks downtown—Hotel Statler, and Hotel Lafayette–  have been saved from the wrecking ball by visionary developers, and are being restored to their original opulence.

Buffalo is beginning to garner great reviews in travel sections of such cosmopolitan papers as the New York Times and the Toronto Star. Suddenly the rest of the world is beginning to discover and appreciate Buffalo’s cultural environment which is, in size, scope, diversity and quality, comparable to places like Chicago or Boston. And by “cultural environment,” I mean more than 20 professional theater companies, a world renowned symphony, two world class art museums, a plethora of notable restaurants, extraordinary boutique shopping, distinctive galleries, as well as more than 20 colleges and universities.

Buffalo has been a relative refuge from the global economic downturn. Housing values have continued modest appreciation. Unemployment remains at least a point below the national average’ and private sector employment remains strong.

Unfortunately, the one thing Buffalonians have depended on for a sense of purpose and validation, the Buffalo Sabres and Bills—especially the Bills– have been in decline. And despite all the other signs of regeneration in Buffalo, that still hurts, because the true religion in Buffalo is its sports teams.

While there was little hope for the Bills in the near term, the community was abuzz about the advent of a new owner for the Sabres with deep pockets, a fan’s passion, and a blatant commitment to win the Stanley Cup. Read the rest of this entry →

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      Rocky Colavito

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month was just the fifth player in Major League Baseball history to have 11 straight seasons with 20 or more home runs, yet could not sustain that greatness long enough to earn a spot in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

      In some sense, the legend of Rocco “Rocky” Colavito Jr. began long before he ever started pounding home runs at the major league level.

      Born and raised as a New York Yankees fan in The Bronx, Colavito was playing semipro baseball before he was a teenager and dropped out of high school at 16 after his sophomore year to pursue a professional career. The major league rule at the time said a player could not sign with a pro team until his high school class graduated, but after sitting out for one year, Colavito was allowed to sign at age 17.

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