Rich Baseball Operations, which manages the three affiliated minor league teams owned by Rich Products Corp., today announced new senior leadership promotions for Rich Entertainment Group, Bison Baseball Inc. and the Northwest Arkansas Naturals.
"These appointments are designed to capitalize on the experience, knowledge and expertise of Buffalo Bisons leadership in the management of Rich Baseball Operations and the organization's expansion into Buffalo's Canalside and Outer Harbor," said Jonathan A. Dandes, President of all three organizations.
Mike Buczkowski has been promoted to Vice President of Rich Baseball Operations. Along with continuing his role as Bisons general manager, he will now also oversee the day-to-day operations of the Double-A Northwest Arkansas Naturals of the Texas League (Kansas City Royals affiliate) and the Single-A West Virginia Black Bears of the NY-Penn League (Pittsburgh Pirates affiliate).
Kevin Parkinson has been promoted to Vice President of Operations and Finance for Rich Entertainment Group, including RBO's three minor league teams and the Outer Harbor Management Group and the Canalside Management Group. Rich Entertainment Group is also comprised of Rule 26, The Glen Iris Inn, Kaiyo Grille, Green Turtle Wine & Spirits, Green Turtle Restaurant and the Palm Beach National Golf & Country Club.
Robert Free has been promoted to Vice President of Food & Beverage for Rich Baseball Operations, overseeing all food service operations at Coca-Cola Field, home of the Buffalo Bisons, as well as directing the food service at both Canalside and the Outer Harbor.
Anthony Sprague has been promoted to Assistant General Manager of the Bisons. Along with his current role as Director of Sales for the team, Sprague will now also assist in managing the day-to-day operations of the Bisons, including marketing and baseball operations.
Justin Cole has been named Vice President of the Northwest Arkansas Naturals. As general manager of the Double-A affiliate, he supervises all day-to-day business operations of the franchise at Arvest Ballpark in Springdale, AR.
Brad Bisbing has been promoted to Director of Marketing & Public Relations for the Bisons. He will now manage all of the teams marketing, advertising and branding initiatives and programs. He will continue to be responsible for the team's public and media relations, all team publications, the team's official website and social media channels.
"Rich Baseball Operations has experienced tremendous growth over the last few years as we have expanded our brand of family-friendly entertainment and event planning from Coca-Cola Field into exciting new endeavors like Canalside and the Outer Harbor," said Dandes. "These promotions are a testament to the expertise, determination and dedication of our senior leaders and provide us with a solid foundation for the future of all our new ventures."
A native of Buffalo, Buczkowski is entering his 31st season with the Bisons and 24th as the club's general manager. His tenure as GM is the longest in the Bisons 133-year history of the franchise. During his time with the team, the Bisons have led their league in attendance seven times and received the Bob Freitas Award from Baseball America in 2001 for operational excellence. Buczkowski is a board member of Western New York United Against Drug & Alcohol Abuse Foundation and the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame. He also serves on the advisory board of the Buffalo/Niagara Sports Commission. Buczkowski is a graduate of Canisius College with a degree in communications.
Parkinson first joined the Bisons and Be Our Guest, Ltd. in February 2002 and has served as the Bisons' controller since 2006. The Niagara Falls-native has managed the financial and human resources for Rich Baseball Operations and Rich Entertainment Group over the last 11 years and has been instrumental in the planning and execution of many of the Bisons non-game day events, including the Ballpark Brew Bash, the WYRK Toyota Taste of Country Concert and the National Buffalo Wing Festival. Parkinson is also a director of the Buffalo Bisons Charitable Foundation and is a graduate of SUNY Geneseo with a degree in accounting.
Free is a native of Hamburg, NY and is entering his 14th season with the Buffalo Bisons. He also serves as treasurer of the state board of the New York State Restaurant Association, and is a past two-term President of the WNY Chapter of the Association. Free serves as a commissioner on the Erie County Board of Health and is also a member of the Local Food Policy Council of Buffalo and Erie County. In addition, Free is a member of the board of advisors for the Brewing Science and Service program at Erie Community College and also serves on the advisory council for Access Buffalo.
Sprague is entering his 16th season with the Buffalo Bisons, having first joined the Bisons in 2002 as an intern in the sales department. Sprague became Director of Sales prior to the 2011 season and during his tenure with the Bisons, has also pioneered many of the team's most successful events, including as Star Wars Night and Superhero Night. A native of Hoosick Falls, NY, Sprague currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Compass House, a not-for-profit agency offering safe shelter and services for runaway and homeless youth in Western New York. Sprague earned a degree in sports management at SUNY Cortland while pitching for the Red Dragons and leading the team to four consecutive Division III College World Series appearances.
Cole is entering his 15th season in Rich Baseball Operations and his fifth as general manager of the Northwest Natural Arkansas. A native of Barker, NY, Cole began his career as a sales intern with the Bisons in 2003 and worked as an account executive and sales manager of the Double-A Wichita Wranglers from 2004-2006. He was named Co-General Manager of the Wranglers in 2007, assisting in the smooth transition of the franchise to Northwest Arkansas. This past offseason, the Kansas City Royals gave Cole the 'Matt Minker Award,' which honors a member of the Royals organization who most exemplifies and displays over time, leadership, dedication and performance. Cole graduated from the University of Buffalo with a communications degree.
A native of Alden, NY, Bisbing is entering his 14th season with the Bisons. He first joined the team in 2004 and was promoted to Director of Public Relations in 2008. Under his direction, the club's official website, Bisons.com, has become one of the top visited websites in all of minor league baseball. Bisbing also serves on the Baseball Internet Rights Co. Content Committee, which advises the minor league clubs on the MLB Advanced Media platform. Bisbing earned a degree in broadcast journalism from Ithaca College in 2001.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.