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09/22/2008 1:02 PM ET
Bisons Set to Meet the Mets...Again
Teams Were Partners for Three Seasons, 1963-65
Jeremy Burnitz slugged home runs for Buffalo and New York.

This is not the first time the Buffalo Bisons have served as an affiliate of the New York Mets. The Bisons had a working agreement with the Mets for three seasons in the International League, 1963-65. That included a playoff appearance in 1964 (80-69) and the appearance of several future New York Mets players.

First Baseman Ed Kranepool played two seasons in Buffalo (1963-64) before his 18-year career with the Mets. He hit 118 home runs with New York from 1962-1979 and was a National League All-Star in 1965. Outfielder Ron Swoboda played with the Bisons in 1964 before spending six of his nine major league seasons with the Mets. Outfielder Cleon Jones hit 31 homers in two seasons in Buffalo (1964-65) before his 13-year major league career. A National League All-Star in 1969, he played 12 of those years with the Mets and hit 93 home runs in 1,201 games.

Kranepool, Swoboda and Jones were all part of the Mets' 1969 World Series Championship Team.

The first Bisons/Mets affiliation also featured catcher Chris Cannizzaro, who moved on to a 13-year major league career that included a 1969 All-Star selection while with San Diego. Outfielder Joe Christopher played four of his eight big league seasons with the Mets and hit 16 home runs in 1964 for Buffalo. Pitcher Max Surkont won 61 games with New York as part of his nine-year major league career.

Buffalo Baseball Hall of Famer Warren "Babe" Birrer played on all three Mets-affiliated teams. Buffalo Baseball Hall of Fame manager, Major Kerby Farrell, led the 1963 and 1965 Bisons teams.

Recent Buffalo - New York Connections
Since 2000, 19 different players have appeared in a game for both the New York Mets and the Buffalo Bisons. The list is headlined by Buffalo Baseball Hall of Famer Rick Reed, who holds the Bisons modern era record with 35 wins from 1988-1991. He went on to win 59 games with two National League All-Star appearances with the Mets from 1997-2001.

Outfielders Moises Alou, Jeromy Burnitz, Karim Gacria and Alex Escobar all slugged home runs for both clubs while Mike Bacsik and David Weathers pitched in both New York and Buffalo. In the field, Jay Bell and Marco Scutaro both flashed their defensive abilities in Dunn Tire Park and Shea Stadium. Bisons favorites from their championship team in 2004, Raul Gonzalez, Mark Little and Jason Tyner, also played for the Mets.

The list also includes catcher Sandy Alomar Jr., pitchers Matt Ginter and Jeff D'Amico and infielders Mike Kinkade, Ricky Gutierrez, Jorge Velandia and Danny Garcia.

Affiliations under Rich Ownership
In 2009, the Bisons will be entering their 27th season under the ownership of the Rich family. The team has played in the Triple-A classification since the 1985 season when Rich purchased the Wichita Aeros and moved the American Association franchise to Buffalo. Since 1985, the Herd has had four different major league parent clubs.

The Bisons partnered with the Chicago White Sox during the team's first two years at Triple-A, After a single season with the Cleveland Indians in 1987, the Bisons aligned themselves with the Pittsburgh Pirates to coincide with the opening of then-Pilot Field. Buffalo and Pittsburgh were together for seven seasons before the Bisons joined up with the Indians in 1995. The Herd and the Tribe were partners for 14 seasons, 1995-2008.

Mets' Triple-A Affiliates
For the past two seasons, the New Orleans Zephyrs of the Pacific Coast League has served as the Triple-A affiliate of the New York Mets. In 2007, the Zephyrs won the PCL's American Southern Division and advanced to the championship round of the playoffs before losing to the Sacramento River Cats.

Prior to that, the Mets were affiliated for 38 seasons with the Norfolk (Tidewater) Tides. That partnership, which began in 1969, featured five International League Governors' Cup Championship seasons. In 1983, the Tides also won the Triple-A World Series in its final year as a three-team tournament with winners from the American Association, International League and Pacific Coast League. The Triple-A World Series did not return until 1998, when the Buffalo Bisons appeared in the championship against New Orleans.

Plenty of Prospects
The New York Mets minor league system features some of the game's best up-and-coming stars. The list starts with OF Fernando Martinez, who is the team's #1 prospect by Baseball America. Martinez entered 2007 as the youngest player in Double-A by nearly two years. Now 19 years old, Martinez hit .287 with eight home runs, 43RBI and 31 extra-base hits for the Double-A Binghamton Mets in 2008.

B-Mets OF Daniel Murphy was named the Best Batting Prospect in the Eastern League by Baseball America earlier this summer after hitting .308 with 26 doubles, 13 home runs and 67RBI in 95 games at Double-A. He's currently with New York and has hit .362 over his first 38 major league games.

Murphy's rise to the majors is characteristic of a 2008 Mets' team that has developed some great homegrown talent. LHP Jon Niese (#8), RHP Joe Smith (#11), Murphy (#15), INF Mike Carp (#19) and OF Nick Evens (#20) all were ranked as Top-20 prospects in the organization by Baseball America prior to the season and are now with the big league club. Murphy and Evans (.311, 18 2B, 14HR, 53RBI in 75 games with Binghamton) were named by the team as Co-Minor League Players of the Year.

RHP Eddie Kunz, the Mets' #5 prospect by Baseball America, saved 27 games with a 2.79ERA for Binghamton this year.


This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.