Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Buffalo's Biggest Trades: No. 81-100+

Here's a recap of part of the series I'm writing for Buffalo Sports Page on Buffalo's biggest trades. You can go to for the more complete versions of each deal.

No. 81: May 29, 1986 - The Bills trade a second-round draft choice in 1986 (Garry James) and a third-round draft choice in 1986 (Tom Rathman) to San Francisco for a first-round draft choice in 1986 (Will Wolford) and a 10th-round draft choice in 1987 (Jim Ellis).

No. 82: October 5, 2010 - The Bills trade Marshawn Lynch to Seattle for a fourth-round draft choice in 2011 (Chris Hairston) and a conditional draft choice in 2012 (Tank Carder).

No. 83: April 21, 2001 - The Bills trade their first-round draft choice in 2001 (Kenyatta Walker) to Tampa Bay for a first-round draft choice in 2001 (Nate Clements) and a second-round draft choice in 2001.

No. 84: October 1, 1975 - The Sabres trade Larry Carriere, a first-round draft choice in 1976 (Greg Carroll) and cash to Atlanta for Jacques Richard.

No. 85: February 26, 2008 - The Sabres trade Brian Campbell and a seventh-round choice in 2008 (Drew Daniels) to San Jose for Steve Bernier and a first-round pick in 2008 (Tyler Ennis).

No. 86: June 30, 2017 - The Sabres trade Tyler Ennis, Marcus Foligno and a third-round draft choice in 2018 (Jack McBain) to Minnesota for Marco Scandella, Jason Pominville and a fourth-round draft choice in 2018 (Linus Lindstrand Cronholm ).

No. 87: March 10, 1992 - The Sabres trade Kevin Haller to Montreal for Petr Svoboda.

No. 88: July 15, 2013 - The Bandits trade first-round draft choices in 2015 (Randy Staats) and 2016 and a third-round draft choice in 2017 (Frank Brown) to Minnesota for Ryan Benesch and Andrew Watt.

No. 89: February 15, 1996 - The Sabres trade Craig Muni and a first-round draft choice in 1996 (Daniel Briere) to Winnipeg for Darryl Shannon and Michal Grosek.

No. 90: October 11, 1991 - The Sabres trade Darrin Shannon, Dean Kennedy and Mike Hartman to Winnipeg for Dave McLlwain, Gord Donnelly, a fifth-round draft choice in 1992 (Yuri Khmylev) in 1992 and future considerations.

No. 91: April 30, 1985 - The Bills trade a first-round draft choice (acquired from Cleveland) in 1985 (Ken Ruettgers) and a fourth-round draft choice in 1986 (Tim Harris) to Green Bay for a first-round draft choice in 1985 (Derrick Burroughs), and a second-round draft choice in 1985 (Chris Burkett).

No. 92: May 1, 1984 - The Bills trade a first-round draft choice in 1984 (Jackie Shipp) to Miami for a first-round draft choice in 1984 (Greg Bell), a third-round draft choice in 1984 (Sean McNanie), and a third-round draft choice in 1984 (Speedy Neal).

No. 93: December 2, 1981 - The Sabres trade Bob Sauve to Detroit for a conditional first-round draft choice (Sauve was returned to the Sabres after the 1981-82 season).

No. 94: April 7, 1995 - The Sabres trade Petr Svoboda to Philadelphia for Garry Galley.

No. 95: March 12, 2018 - The Bills trade Cordy Glenn, a first-round draft choice in 2018 (Billy Price), and a fifth-round draft choice in 2018 (Andrew Brown) to Cincinnati for a first-round draft choice in 2018 and a sixth-round draft choice in 2018 (Ray-Ray McCloud).

No. 96: April 24, 2004 - The Bills trade a second-round draft choice in 2004 (Julius Jones), a fourth-round draft choice in 2004 (Sean Ryan), and a first-round draft choice in 2005 (Marcus Spears) to Dallas for a first-round draft choice in 2004 (J.P. Losman).

No. 97: June 26, 2015The Sabres trade a first-round draft choice in 2015 (Colin White) to Ottawa for Robin Lehner and David Legwand.

No. 98: January 30, 1986 - The Sabres trade Larry Playfair, Sean McKenna and Ken Baumgarter to Los Angeles for Brian Engblom and Doug Smith.

No. 99: March 26, 2007 - The Bills trade Takeo Spikes and Kelly Holcomb to Philadelphia for Darwin Walker and a seventh-round draft choice in 2007 (Stevie Johnson).

No. 100: September 1, 1977The Braves trade George Johnson, a first-round draft choice in 1978 (Micheal Ray Richardson) and a first-round draft choice in 1979 (Cliff Robinson) to New Jersey for Tiny Archibald.

Honorable mention:

November 25, 1970The Sabres trade Mike McMahon to Los Angeles for Eddie Shack and Dick Duff.

July 26, 1971The Braves trade Herm Gilliam and Don May to Atlanta for Mahdi Abdul-Rahman and Jerry Chambers.

April 19, 1973The Bills trade Edgar Chandler, Wayne Patrick and Jeff Lyman to New England for Jim Cheyunski, Mike Montler and Halvor Hagen.

June 7, 1977The Braves trade a first-round draft choice in 1977 (Marques Johnson) to Milwaukee for Swen Nater and a first-round draft choice in 1977.
September 1, 1980The Bills trade Joe DeLamielleure to Cleveland for a second-round draft choice in 1981 (Chris Williams) and a third-round draft choice in 1982 (Eugene Marve).

November 16, 1995The Sabres trade Doug Bodger to San Jose for Vaclav Varada, Martin Spanhel, Philadelphia’s fourth-round draft pick in 1996 (Mike Martone), and a future first-round draft choice.

March 8, 2007The Bills trade Willis McGahee to Baltimore for third-round and seventh-round draft picks in 2007 (Trent Edwards and C.J. Ah You) and a third-round draft choice in 2008 (Tavares Gooden).

June 25, 2011The Sabres trade Paul Byron and the rights to Chris Butler to Calgary for Robyn Regehr, Ales Kotalik and a second-round draft pick in 2012 (Jake McCabe).

August 11, 2017The Bills trade Sammy Watkins and a sixth-round draft choice in 2018 (Sebastian Joseph) to the Rams for E.J. Gaines and a second-round draft choice in 2018 (Duke Dawson).

November 28, 2018Acquired Corey Small and conditional second-round picks in 2020 and 2022 from Vancouver for Mitch Jones and conditional second-round picks in 2020 and 2022.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Planes, a train, an automobile and a boat

Our trip - it went according to schedule this time.

I was walking toward the Eiffel Tower on my first day in Paris. Apparently my subconscious mind already was working hard on my lead to this blog because I started singing this to myself:

“I was a free man in Paris. I felt unfettered and alive. There was nobody calling me up for favors. And no one's future to decide.”

That’s Joni Mitchell’s song about her trip to Paris with the president of her record label. David Geffen didn’t like the way the words portrayed him, but he probably changed his mind when “Free Man in Paris” was released as a single and became one of Mitchell’s biggest hits.  

We spent 16 days on a vacation that wound its way from Paris to Nice in France with a side trip to Monaco. About a week was spent cruising down the Rhone River in a group of about 40 other Americans. It will take me a while to write up descriptions of the places we saw and post them on my travel blog, But as usual, I took notes about what we noticed about our trip along the way and asked our new friends who joined us on the tour for their thoughts too.  I learn a lot about where I have been that way. Therefore, this admittedly lengthy report is not about what we saw, but about what we experienced.

The City of Lights

Paris is a lovely city, especially when viewed
from the Eiffel Tower.

* There’s no easy way to cross the ocean by plane and be anything but tired. We flew from Buffalo to Charlotte, sat around for four hours, and flew to Paris with a 6:55 a.m. arrival time. The best way to say how tired I was is that some days later I was asked if there were movies on the flight. “I watched two of them – one was about Bill Murray, and the other was … um … I have no recollection of what the other one was,” I answered.

* They really celebrate their holidays in France. On the morning of May 1 (Labor Day or May Day), the usually crowded streets were empty. Few businesses were open, except for some restaurants that probably catered to tourists. We missed a couple of planned visits to attractions because of that. A week later, we were in town for V-E Day, yet another holiday that closed many businesses.

* Meanwhile on May Day, thousands gathered to protest government policies. More than 100 were arrested. Some of the metro (subway) stops were closed for security reasons.We couldn’t get near the Arc de Triomphe; access was blocked by well-armed military troops. In fact, the nation is on its highest alert for security, and military types were very visible in almost all potentially crowded areas.

* If you are interested in fine dining, Paris obviously is the place to be. We saw not one, but two Five Guys hamburger places there. McDonald’s and Starbucks were everywhere, while Burger King had a small presence. More seriously, there are cafes and restaurants all over the place, with a few on almost every block. For an expensive city, food prices were actually quite reasonable. However, soft drinks were outrageous, unless you think a bottle of Coke Zero without ice cubes is worth as much as 4.50 Euros. Footnote - It is a tough place to buy a salad, for whatever reason.

The roof of Lafayette Commons was spectacular.
* The malls of Western New York aren’t doing well, but they have evolved into something quite successful in Paris. Population density may have something to do with that, of course. In any event, Galeries Lafayette is the big shopping spot in the big cities, and it has a fabulous building in Paris that was near our hotel. The building features an atrium with a beautiful roof and a skywalk with a glass floor. It helps that there are plenty of tourists in the area, and they seemed anxious to spend money. There was a line to get into the Chanel and Louis Vuitton sections of the building. That was a mall first.

 * Paris needs a little work on its cheap commercialism. You couldn’t find an original or interesting t-shirt in the city limits.

* Visitors hear about the problem of pickpockets almost everywhere in Paris, as well as in Lyon and Nice. Theft from tourists almost sounds like it provides a good-sized portion of the GDP. If you are planning a trip, take appropriate measures like the purchase of a money belt.

* My friend from another cruise, Gail Alderton, once said to me, "You must go to Paris." She was right.

Turning the tables

Jody’s knowledge of her high school French lessons paid off nicely throughout the trip, as she could understand a bit of what was going around us and point us in the proper directions. Meanwhile, my elective of Spanish in those school years was of no use. But then we ran into a family from Argentina at the shopping center in Paris, and my shaky knowledge of that language came back to life briefly.

After I explained that I spoke “muy, muy poco” (very, very little) Spanish after taking three years of it in school, we talked a little in a combination of Spanish and English. The three women were delighted. When they said they were leaving Paris that night, I said, “Que lastima!” (What a pity!), which I think I learned in my first month of lessons in seventh grade. And when we split up, I said, “Adios! Buena suerte (good luck)!”, putting a big smile on their faces. 

You’d be surprised how much fun it was.

Rolling on the river
* Cruising usually is associated with the big ships on the oceans. This was not one of them. Our boat this time was about a third as crowded as the one we took in Central Europe last year, with about 42 passengers. One nice feature was that the rooms were downright spacious by cruise standards. In other words, you could turn around in the shower without opening the door.

* Grand Circle sometimes brings in guest speakers to its event, and we had a couple of unusual ones. The first was Jean Nallit, a man who worked on the French Resistance during World War II. As a forger, he saved the lives of several Jews who were slated to go to the death camps. Yes, he’s 96 now, but he’s still doing OK. It was remarkable to hear a first-person account of experiences, which included a stay in a concentration camp. When he was released, he was so thin (76 pounds) that his mother didn’t even recognize him when they were reunited after the war.  By any definition. Nallit is a hero. Also, two people from the “Yellow Vest” protest groups took time to talk with our group and answer questions about their activities. The protesters seem to have some energy, but no obvious place to direct it and no clear leadership. Apparently, they get on Facebook and say, “Where should we protest on Saturday?” Unless they set up a clear path for progress to a particular destination and find some leadership, it’s hard to believe they will do more than cause honked horns by drivers who can't get by them.

* Some of the boat tours through Grand Circle feature variety shows from the crew. We had such a small boat (13 crew members or so) that such a show was impossible, so they took questions for more than an hour instead one night. They were mostly Eastern Europeans (Slovakia, Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia) and in their 40s, so I asked how the end of Communism had changed their lives. That hit a nerve. The answer from about four crew members ran for about 20 minutes and had plenty of passion. It was clear that they didn’t miss Communism, where everyone you meet is a potential spy for the government.  However, there was a sense that they miss the safety net of the old regime. Many people have realized that there’s not much opportunity for advancement in the Old Country, and the people there need to flee to the West for a better life. That "brain drain" has left those Eastern European countries behind economically. I also asked about influences on their culture: movies, television, music, sports, etc. They all quickly answered that everything in those areas came from America.

* A story: Jaroslav, the hotel manager, talked about how a woman came up to him at the front desk and asked, "How does the ship get its power when it is not in port?" He was feeling silly that day, so he said, "We have a long cord that is plugged in at the city of origin, and it unrolls as we go from city to city."

Our traveling party visits a bull farm in Southern France.
* Grand Circle markets its tours to Americans, so again the conversations weren’t as international in nature as the ones we’ve had on a big ship. However, this was a bright group, and some interesting chats did take place. Within a period of a couple of days, I talked with different people about the lessons offered by France’s military defeat in colonial Southeast Asia in 1954, inter-faith marriages, and abusive sport coaches. A woman asked me whether I had ever interviewed one of my boyhood idols. I told her about one such interview - it was difficult it was to talk to Carl Yastrzemski at a baseball game in Toronto for that reason. No one had ever asked me that question before.

* Speaking of marketing, Grand Circle’s approach to touring apparently appeals to those in the 70-79 age-group, as we say in the running community. Some were older than that, and a few were well above that. Those most senior of senior citizens didn’t take part in all of the programs, but had a good time by all accounts. At the other end of the spectrum, we weren’t the youngest this time like we had been in 2018. A family reunion of nine was part of the group, and four of them were sons and their significant others. I told one of the young ladies that if they ever wanted to talk to someone who didn’t remember the Korean War, we were there to help. She laughed. Without them, though, we would have been the kids on board again.

* The food was quite good, with an emphasis on French cuisine. Remember, this is from America’s fussiest eater, so it’s high praise. I think I could come to like Crepes Suzette on a regular basis. We made sure to do plenty of walking during the day and not drink too much alcohol in order to be able to fit into our clothes upon returning. Others weren’t so, um, dedicated – but that’s part of the attraction for some. To each his or her own.  

* Let’s salute our program director, Martin, for his effort throughout the trip. He worked extremely hard for all 16 days (plus a post-trip extension that we missed) without missing a beat, even when he was a bit sick for a while. Martin was always in good humor and full of enthusiasm, and knew the highlights of the visited cities forwards and backwards. He even put up with me when at one point I started to snore loudly when he started to sing a lullaby into the bus’ p-a system on a drive. (That got a surprisingly big laugh, by the way.) You couldn’t tip him enough for what he did; let’s hope he received enough to take a nice vacation of his own somewhere.

The rest of France
One of the best war memorials is in Nice, near the waterfront.

* It was mentioned along the way that there are three ingredients that are crucial to French booking: butter, butter and butter. You didn’t need to put any on your morning croissant to taste the stuff.
* There appears to be three basic industries in France: The manufacturing of bread, wine and cheese. They were ever-present throughout the country, and according to all reports were always good. A friend of mine reminded me before the trip that “If you haven’t had a bottle of wine by 11 a.m., you are playing catch-up the rest of the day.”

* As you’d guess, English is fairly common in the tourist areas of Paris. Most merchants can at least get by. It was less common for the other portions of the journey.

* You’d expect plenty of tributes to the heroes of World War II, and they were present throughout France. It’s interesting, though, that World War I is still well remembered in many places in the form of monuments, street names, heroes, etc. France obviously suffered incredible losses in the earlier conflict, but the tributes are noticeable for someone coming from an American perspective. World War I doesn't come up much on this side of the pond.

* Europe has much more smoking than the United States, and the French seem to be the leaders in that category. It’s a great country for walks as long as you can find some clean air to breathe along the way.

* As best as we could figure out from the road signs, the speed limit on the big highways goes down a bit when it rains. That’s not a bad idea. However, it is interesting – if not scary – to consider that wine is sold at Thruway rest stops. Driving is not cheap in France. We spent an afternoon with a French family, who said it costs about 75 Euros to fill the tank. Whew. Many cars are indeed tiny, particularly in urban areas where the streets are not exactly boulevards.

* Speaking of driving, the French certainly love their traffic circles. There are about 30,000 scattered around the country. The rotaries force drivers to pay attention - according to a book I once read on traffic - so the accident rate drops in such spots. However, the Arc de Triomphe features six roads coming into a circle without a yield sign in sight. We went through the area on the way to Versailles, and we needed a “discomfort bag” like they hand out on airplanes.

* You’d think France would be a little less stingy with the size and number of its napkins. There weren't many paper towels in the bathrooms either.

* We took a high-speed bullet train out of Paris (right) to get to the boat on the Rhone River in Central France. It supposedly hits 180 mph at certain points, and it was funny to see it swiftly pass the cars on the big highways along the way. I can report the ride is smooth and comfortable.

* When we were riding on the subway in Lyon, we were serenaded by a street musician who was playing an accordion. So much for the old saying, then, that a gentleman is “someone who knows how to play the accordion … and doesn’t.” The music seemed almost continental in that setting.

* Does every city in France have a carousel?

* While in Viviers, we were introduced to a French game called p├ętanque. It’s a great deal like bocce, as players have to get large balls next to a small target ball by throwing it a good-sized distance. As my friends have said, I’m a good athlete when my feet aren’t moving (which covers most sports, by the way). Therefore, I got the hang of the game quite quickly. I wonder if there is a professional league I can join.

* One key observation from Jody: She was surprised and disappointed that users of the hair dryers must hold the "on button" in order to prevent it from turning off. 

* There’s one common problem in the cities of France: what my mother used to call “dog stuff.” One local tour guide said that residents often let their dogs run around the city streets, and – using a nice phrase – don’t monitor their “production.” Martin called the gifts from our four-footed friends “landmines,” and we all learned to look down frequently while walking.

* The French people say they don’t consider Jerry Lewis a god. So let’s put that one to rest right now.

* For those who like to count the countries they’ve visited, which covers almost all of us, the idea of a morning trip to Monaco was irresistible. It’s less than a square mile in size, a postage stamp in the world community. You don’t need a passport to enter the country. However, if you want to get that document stamped, you can do so. The Tourist Information booth at the train station will be happy to add a bright red color to your otherwise drab passport page.

Another Saturday, another protest in Nice.

* At one point, we got off the train in Nice after coming in from Monaco, and found ourselves in the midst of a Saturday protest by the Yellow Vests. There were drums and whistles by the few hundred people involved, not including the police presence. They marched several blocks to the big town square, and we never felt threatened walking behind the group. However, they sure messed up traffic patterns for a while.

* At the end of the trip, I had to use the business center of a hotel to check in for our flights home. When I started to use the computer, I quickly discovered that I was typing something close to gibberish. No remarks please – it was because it was a different keyboard. A few of the letters were in the “wrong” position (z was where the w usually is for us), and the numbers could only be typed by hitting the shift key.


When we got on the plane from London to Chicago, as part of the illogical trip home from Nice to Buffalo , we were happy to see that we had boarded a 747. I told a flight attendant that it was a first, and she said, “Rows and rows.” We sat in Row 52, and there were more people upstairs. That’s one big plane; I still don’t know how it gets off the ground.

Our seats had a video screen, and British Airways offered a wide variety of movies to make the eight-hour trip go faster. I saw three, and was almost willing to go on to Los Angeles for a couple of more. In looking over the vast listings, I saw that “Whiplash” was available – starring J.K. Simmons.
And then it came to me: I had watched “The Front Runner,” featuring Simmons, on the way over.

Mystery solved.

Let’s hope all of the memories on such great trips in the future don’t disappear, but last a lifetime.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

The Boat People

Some of the people who went from a river cruise
to a river cruise/bus tour in Central Europe in August.
I'm the one in a blue Buffalo Bisons' cap in the back right.
   We had been waiting to take a river cruise on the "Great Rivers of Europe" since January, when we signed up through Grand Circle Cruise Lines. It would be three weeks of August fun, visiting five nations in 21 days - some of them slated to be viewed on a luxury boat moving at a leisurely pace through beautiful scenery. It would be the longest trip of our lives.

   Then came the email a few days before we headed to Amsterdam. Due to a drought in Europe, water levels had dropped to unsafe levels in certain portions of the planned route. So everyone would be hopping on a bus for a couple of nights and taken to a hotel. All right, the packing and unpacking of three weeks' of clothes would be a pain, but we'd adapt.

   But once we got on the boat named Rhapsody, we were told that conditions had become worse. The ship could get no further up the river than Koblenz, Germany. Two nights off the boat had become six. Details to come.

   And that's when about 127 people became "boat people": refugees from their homes on the Rhapsody. When those six days were over, those same 127 people looked rather tired as they boarded the Adagio - located on the other side of the Continental Divide from the Rhapsody. One tourist had broken an arm along the way, and another had bumped his head after fainting because of dehydration, suffering a few bruises. The Program Directors may have been even more tired than the tourists, because they had to deal with everyone's endless questions as an entirely different itinerary was created essentially on the fly. They were remarkably poised under the circumstances.

Some of the tourists no doubt visited the lounge
for an adult beverage after returning
to a boat after six nights in the "wilderness."
   No one was looking for sympathy because they had to haul luggage a few times and stay at four-star hotels in fabulous German cities. Still, it was a different experience than what was anticipated - sometimes better, sometimes worse. We finished in Prague with a crash course on European history, geography and culture.

   When someone asks me, "How was your trip?", words such as excellent and fascinating comes to mind but don't quite cut it. I like to come up with a full story - mostly to get some easily forgettable observations down on paper before they pass away. This time, I asked some of my fellow passengers what they noticed along the way, and they came through nicely with suggestions for this article. Thanks to them for the help. I'll eventually have thoughts on individual places on my travel blog, Some notes could be essays in themselves, others are shorter subjects, and some are trivial to silly, but all reflect on what for us what a unique experience.

   One last rule - a long vacation means a long blog. Don't say you weren't warned. 


Heaven in Europe is where
the English are the policemen
the French are the cooks
the German are the mechanics
the Italians are the lovers
and the Swiss organize everything.

Hell in Europe is where
the German are the policemen
the English are the cooks
the French are the mechanics
the Swiss are the lovers
and the Italians organize everything.


 * The first thing you'll notice about the passengers on a Grand Circle cruise is their composition. I was told that I'd probably be the youngest passenger on the boat, and that seemed to be true. The vast majority were over 70, prompting someone to say that a Grand Circle boat was actually an "elderly hostel" in disguise. I'm not sure how comfortable anyone under the age of 60 would be in these circumstances.
    The group consisted of almost all Americans; I think there was a stray couple from Ontario along for the ride. Many guests were predictably from the Sun Belt. Everyone seemed to be in the same demographic - not truly wealthy but comfortable enough to take a trip like this. (To put it another way, we heard stories about washing clothes in the sink that matched our experiences.) This was good and bad. It certainly made initial conversations easier, as many had been around the United States a lot and had stories to share. One woman from Chicago often came to Buffalo in the past to see relatives that lived on - wait for it - our street!
   But I didn't feel like a great fit with many of those on board, perhaps because I'm still doing a lot in "retirement." I'm a little more in the present than some retirees, and that's a bit of a potential barrier. Besides, some of the other international trips I've taken have featured people from other countries. Conversations with those tourists have been fascinating. There was none of that here, and I missed it.
   The group had its quirks. For example, attention spans could be a little short. Announcements were made one minute, and then asked to be repeated by someone the next. Elsewhere, I saw some passengers in place in a hotel lobby, patiently waiting for a departure time that was more than an hour away. They weren't going to miss that bus.
   The touring encompassed plenty of walking, and I'd bet that many of those on board - some of whom needed canes - probably overestimated their ability to handle the physical load. The strain of the extra bus rides probably didn't help either. They must have been really tired upon returning home.
   I didn't see many signs of the passengers acting spoiled or privileged. An exception - one person thought it was pretty funny that a staff member accented the wrong syllable of a word during a public announcement. I was tempted to say, "How would you do on pronouncing the biggest words in your fourth language?"
   Eventually, though, people found other passengers that were a good fit in personality, and joy grew exponentially. We laughed at one person's reaction to going on a subway for the first time in her life, and watched her delight when she found out the line went under the river in Prague. ("REALLY?!?") When we were back from our adventures on the streets of the latest city, others couldn't wait to hear them - sort of like what the ideal mom does when the kids come back from doing something special. ("Tell me all about it!") Departure Day is always a bit emotional in such circumstances, with plenty of "If ever you are in Altoona ..." moments heard during goodbye hugs.

   *  On the big ocean liners, there is plenty of pressure to spend extra money. Go to the fancy restaurants to order big meals. Buy drink packages, Go look at jewelry. Check out the casino. Go on elaborate outings in port.
   There wasn't much of that here. Beer, wine and soft drinks were all covered. They'd sell you some mixed drinks at the bar if you insisted on it. I'm not sure if the unlimited availability of such beverages was a primary attraction for this crowd, but not too many people passed up beer or wine with lunch or dinner. The food was more than acceptable; I only had to go off the menu for a hamburger once, And passengers' birthdays were properly celebrated with sparklers placed in cakes. 

The rooms on the ship were not exactly spacious.
I had to go outside of it to change my mind.
   * Speaking of comparisons, the two types of ships had similar rooms. The river boat's rooms featured twin beds that folded into the wall to reveal a couch of sorts underneath. It was rather uncomfortable as a place to rest during the day, and we learned quickly to ask housekeeping to leave the bed down at all times.
   That was very necessary early in the trip for me thanks to a pesky cough and some sneezing. I skipped some events in favor of naps. Going on a long international trip? Bring some cold medicine just in case, or be prepared to figure out how to buy Nyquil in a Cologne pharmacy.

   * The idea behind these trips is for groups to take outings around the port city during the morning, have them go off on their own in the afternoon, and then sail to the next city overnight. That plan was derailed when we were off the boat, as solo wanderings were cut down by necessary bus trips between locations.
   We spent three nights in Frankfurt and three nights in Nuremberg. They are wonderful cities, and it was a joy to get to know them a bit this way. But a side-effect was that there was no break in the action, as the group visited a different city every day until we arrived in Prague for a trip extension (three full days of touring there). Some people skipped some activities just to catch a breath. The stops tend to blend together in memory now, with one German historic district looking like the next.

   * Much of the crew from the two boats was from Eastern Europe, particularly in the countries formerly known as Yugoslavia. Their English was a little weak in spots, but they seemed good-natured enough - particularly when they put on a little show for the passengers. 

   * A tip of the hat goes to Grand Circle for setting some interesting discussions and presentations. We heard from an expert of Jewish history talk about the Holocaust, a political scientist who briefed us on the current situation in Germany,  and a refugee who had gone from Syria to Austria in order to find hope over the course of more than a year. We also saw a glass-blowing demonstration - he sold a lot of stuff afterwards - and visited a house for coffee and cake to chat about Germany life. (To that last point, shame on the other visitors in our group of 10 who didn't bring some sort of gift along to our hostess.)


   We had been scheduled to cruise down an interesting part of the Rhine, with castles and charming towns along the way. But the water was too low for our boat, so we had to take a commercial trip instead. At the end of the three-hour voyage, which was slowed by the low levels of water, our group gathered at a restaurant for an authentic German dinner in Ruedesheim.

   The food was rather bland and tasteless, even for me, but the highlight was the promised German folk band. I will forever maintain that this band played the oddest set in music history. "I Can't Help Falling in Love With You" was followed by "Take Me Home, Country Roads." There was "The Happy Wanderer." A polka version of "The Birthday Song." "Sweet Caroline." Some songs in German popped up once in a while. When "The Chicken Dance" broke out and a line extended around the restaurant, people outside of the facility came rushing to the door to see what the heck was going on. They were turned away.

   The night closed with the band playing that German beer hall favorite, "Hallelujah."


   * Even today, it is still hard to escape the presence of World War II in Central Europe.
   Many of the cities we visited were more than 90 percent destroyed by Allied forces in an effort to destroy morale among the Germans. Whether it was necessary or not at that stage of the war (early 1945) is one for the historians. But the rise of the Nazi party from 1933 to 1945 still hangs in the air in that nation, more felt than seen.

   * No one yelled out "American swine!" as our tourist group went by. Even so, conversations with people who lived across the sea from me certainly indicated that the current administration in Washington is less than popular in Central Europe these days.
   I got the sense that the political polarization in America was packed with the luggage by those on the cruise. In other words, some were hesitant to give comments about developments in America, even as Michael Cohen was accepting a plea bargain. It was easy to tune out the world to a degree, since CNN International and CNBC Europe usually were the only useful television channels that were available. But wi-fi was available on the boat and in most city locations, so information was as close as a smartphone. Therefore, when an initial conversation indicated that people were on the same sides of the political spectrum, the words came tumbling out. 
   I did have one moment of conflict, at least internally. We were in Room 600 of the building where the famous Nuremberg trials were held after World War II. The room is still used, and over the judges' heads on the wall was a Catholic cross. The guide pointed out that Bavaria was a Catholic region, and that part of the country had recently allowed such symbols in its court rooms.
   With that, a woman in front of me started to applaud, as did a few others in the room. I was very tempted to say to her, "What part of the separation of church and state don't you agree with?" But it certainly wasn't the time or place for that.

   * Germany is cooking right now economically. Admittedly, we stuck to generally prosperous areas, but the Germans are clearly doing something right. It was particularly noticeable in Frankfurt, a city I knew almost nothing. It is becoming Germany's New York while Berlin is the nation's Washington.
   Germany tried to achieve a superior place in the world through guns in the 20th century on two occasions, and failed spectacularly (thankfully). It might have better luck wielding checkbooks in this century.

   * Speaking of politics, it's interesting that right-wing parties are gaining strength in Germany and left-wingers bordering on Communist tendencies are in key positions in the Czech Republic. Didn't they learn anything from the past?

Yes, they sell a lot of beer in Germany.
I finished this particular glass
   * Do you like cheap beer? Central Europe is your ideal destination. In some places it was cheaper than Coca-Cola or bottled water, particularly when calculated by the ounce. It was all local brands too. As one person in Germany put it, "You can drink Budweiser, or you can drink beer."
   As for soft drinks, the marketing department for Pepsi needs to work harder in Germany. I don't think I saw anything but Coke in the whole country. Soft drinks were served somewhere between chilly and cold, but never ice cold, and portions were surprisingly small at restaurants.

   * Someone came up with a rule for the service in restaurants - the farther the trip went along, the smaller the smiles of restaurant workers became. The pace of service was quite slow too, and it was tough to find someone to order a second drink. But the attendants sure were fast at clearing your plates, not even pausing to ask permission.
   And if you choose to eat outside, which almost everyone in Europe did during a record heat wave, be prepared for company in the form of yellow jackets.

   * There aren't many places to buy clever t-shirts in Europe yet. Give credit to the person in Austria who came up with one with the outline of a certain hopping animal from the Southern Hemisphere with the caption "No Kangaroos in Austria." Luckily a store called Blue in Prague is filled with original items; head there for all your shopping needs.

   * The rock band Kraftwerk came to mind as we drove on Germany's famous Autobahn. ("Fun, fun, fun ...") There were speed limits on the relatively crowded sections, ranging from 50 to 75 mph depending on conditions. It's a modern, efficient system.
   Even the rest stops had their interesting quirks. Change is needed to access the pay toilets, which caused some purchases at the 7-11-type store nearby. There visitors could check out the magazines, which in a couple of cases had topless women on the cover. You don't see that on the New York State Thruway.
   Now that I've put the 1970s song in your head, here's a video:

   * The entire trip was spent in the Central European time zone, which is six hours ahead of East Coast time. This came with some oddities. When I got up at 7 a.m., the West Coast baseball games still were not over. When I turned on the TV at 3 p.m., the only American channels were usually CNN and CNBC Europe. The stock market hadn't even opened yet.

   * Europe has cigarette machines in public places (ID needed for purchase), women with green hair, too much graffiti in most cities, bicycles by the droves (especially in Amsterdam), much more public smoking than America, far more hats with Yankee logos than ones for the Red Sox (boo!), plenty of McDonald's and Starbucks (with a Mexican restaurant in Prague), diesel gasoline that costs less than regular, a 25-cent deposit on bottles (Germany, where the Green Party has essentially won the argument about the necessity for saving the environment - America take note), toilets with two buttons - one for each, um, use, plenty of bookstores and ice cream stands, and no seedless watermelons.

   * The flight from Prague to Philadelphia took nine hours and 18 minutes, and we went back six hours in time in the process. Therefore, August 25 lasted 30 hours for me - the longest day of my life. Literally.

   Early in the flight, someone tried to adjust some overhead luggage - and a bag came out of the container and hit me squarely on the head. Ugh. Luckily it was a soft-shell case. But if someone wants to introduce a Constitutional Amendment forcing airlines to enforce tougher rules about the size of carry-on items, he or she has my support. It is a jungle out there, particularly on the big international flights.


The helicopter pad has to be here somewhere.
   The Hotel Manager said he was asked if the crew stayed on the boat over night. He asked for the question to be repeated out of disbelief, and it was done so.

   "No, they stay in nearby hotels," he answered sarcastically. "We fly them in on helicopters. They arrive on deck at 5 a.m. to start preparing for the day."

   The Hotel Manager thought little about it for a couple of weeks. Then he heard from his boss, who called to roar, "What is going on with your ship?" The HM didn't know what he meant, and the Boss explained that he had gotten a survey back from an unsatisfied customer.

   "The food was great, the crew was wonderful, and the cities were beautiful," the note read, "but I will never stay on a Grand Circle boat again. I never got enough sleep because of the noisy helicopters that were landing on the deck at 5 a.m. to let the crew off."


   We try to accumulate memories on trips like this. There were a bunch of them here.

   * We toured Anne Frank's house in Amsterdam, and saw first-hand how she and her family hid from the Nazis for years - only to be captured and executed when the Allies were almost within sight of the Netherlands.

   * We were surrounded by hundreds of years of history just by walking into the courtyards of the Heidelberg Castle. The immense complex has been around in one form or another for almost 800 years, perhaps before the Magna Carta was signed. It's been unused since 1764 - before the American Revolution - but still fascinates to this day.  (By the way, travel writer Rick Steves puts down Heidelberg as a waste of time. He is wrong.)

   * We stood in the area in Nuremberg where the Nazis put on tremendous rallies in order to generate support for their policies, and then sat in the courtroom where they paid for those policies.

   * We listened to one of the world's largest organs of its type belt out some religious music in a 30-minute concert at a church in Passau, Germany. 

   * We heard the music of Mozart and Strauss in a live concert in a beautiful music house in Vienna. Yes, they played "The Blue Danube," where we slept on the boat that night. The next morning, I saw the building where the Congress of Vienna took place in 1814-15.

   * We stood by the building in Bratislava where the Peace of Pressburg was signed in 1805, which marked the demise of the last piece of the Roman Empire.

   * We walked in Wenceslas Square in Prague, almost 50 years to the day from when Soviet tanks came to crush the sliver of freedom that Czechoslovakia had tried to carve out. It also was in that very square in 1989 when Vaclav Havel announced to the people of that country that the Communist government had resigned.

   * We had breakfast in Vienna, lunch in Bratislava, and dinner in Prague on the same day - three meals in three world capitals. This is a record that will never be broken.

   That's a lot of memories, and it doesn't even include the personal moments with new friends accumulated along the way. Good thing I didn't have to declare them at customs. 

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Buffalo's Uniform Numbers - Part 1

Uniform numbers aren’t merely a way of identifying players in sports. They can be a game.

Admit it, Buffalo Sports Fan. You hear about the number 12 on a shirt, and you can still picture Jim Kelly. Same goes for Bruce Smith and 78. Gil Perreault and 11. (In the case of Bandits’ fans, John Tavares and 11.)

From there, you can start making up lists. Who is the greatest Sabre or Bill to ever wear a particular number? From there, it’s an easy jump to an All-Western New York team of numbers.

That’s what we tried to do this summer for Buffalo Sports Page. We went from 99 to 0, one day at a time.

Some were easy, some were tough. If you play this game yourself, you’ll find out something about the way you rate players. For example, do you value longevity or brilliance? That’s a question that comes up for No. 89, when discussing the merits of Steve Tasker vs. Alexander Mogilny. A similar argument comes up at No. 25, when Luke Easter’s stay in Buffalo is compared to Dave Andreychuk’s. If you think coaching a local team helps an individual’s case, then you probably believe Lindy Ruff deserves to be No. 22.

I believe that top college athletes deserve a nod when possible, so they are listed. Some players just don’t fit because they wore two different numbers during their career (Brad May, I’m thinking of you.) And I’m willing to give extra credit to some obscure Buffalo numbers, like my pick for No. 19. I tried to mention someone from almost every relatively major team that’s called Western New York home.

I did something like this more than 20 years ago, and the reactions were fun to read. One guy from Arizona wrote to yell at me for not including more athletes who were well-known before 1960. He didn’t give his age. But yes, the more recent players are more likely to be picked. Others apparently liked to play along this time around, based on some of the reason. I found that the list got much stronger, as some of the weaker numbers have been filled in during that time.

By the way, the last addition to the "others" list was Roy Hobbs of the New York Knights. 

Not sure when I will try this again - I don't think there's a book in it. But you never know.

0 – Tony Meola, Blizzard. He was the goalie on three U.S. World Cup teams, and signed with the Blizzard during the 1994-95 season. However, Tony left the team after two months to star in an off-Broadway play. “Tony and Tina’s Wedding.” He can be heard on satellite radio as a soccer commentator now.

00 – Martin Biron, Sabres. The then-rookie wore Double-0 in 1995-96. Soon after that, the NHL’s computer system wouldn’t allow an entry of 00 into its database. Biron switched to #43 for the rest of his time in Buffalo. Always a good interview, he now talks for a living as a broadcaster.

1 – Roger Crozier, Sabres. We usually associate this number with goalies, and Crozier was the first one the Sabres ever had after acquiring him from Detroit. Injuries cut short his career, but his acrobatics were entertaining while they lasted. Others: Don Edwards, Sabres; Jim May, Stallions; Jhonas Enroth, Sabres; Stephanie Reid, UB; Bobby Olive, Destroyers.

2 – Tim Horton, Sabres. He played less than two years before his death in an auto accident, but his impact on a young team was immense. That’s why his number is hanging at the top of the KeyBank Center. Tim played 24 years in the NHL and is in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Others: Steve Christie, Bills; Dan Carpenter, Bills; Ian Llord, Bandits.

3 – Pete Gogolak, Bills.  He only played two seasons with the Bills, but he started two revolutions. Gogolak was the first soccer-style kicker in pro football, and within 20 years everyone was doing it. Then when he jumped to the NFL’s Giants, he sped up the process that led to the merger. Others: Billy Dee Smith, Bandits; Phil Scaffidi, Niagara; Jaylen Adams, St. Bonaventure.  

4 – Jerry Korab, Sabres. The rugged defenseman came into his own when he was acquired from Vancouver, and was part of several good teams in the 1970s. Jerry also finished his career in Buffalo, returning here after his trade to Los Angeles. Others: Rhett Warrener, Sabres; John Kidd, Bills; Ernie Buriano, Stallions.

5 – Mike Ramsey, Sabres. The defenseman arrived in Buffalo in 1980 fresh from winning a gold medal for the U.S. Olympic team. He stayed through 1992-93, and might be the best all-around defenseman in franchise history. Others: Tyrod Taylor, Bills; Jason Woolley, Sabres; Jim McMillian, Braves.

6 – Ollie Carnegie, Bisons. He joined the Bisons in 1931 and stayed through 1942 – 1,273 games. Yes, the rules were different then. Ollie remains the International League’s all-time leader in runs batted in, and his Buffalo number is retired. Others: Phil Housley, Sabres; Jim Schoenfeld, Sabres; Chris White, Bandits.

7 – Rick Martin, Sabres. A No. 1 draft choice of the Sabres in 1971, he took no time to become one of the league’s best goal scorers. Martin had two 50-goal seasons in Buffalo. Only a knee injury kept him out of the Hall of Fame. Others: Doug Flutie, Bills; Emily Pfalzer, Beauts; John Tucker, Sabres; Art Clark, local auto racing.

8 – Brian Moorman, Bills. A member of the Bills during the early 2000s once said the team’s best athlete was the punter. Moorman was a track star in college, and a two-time All-Pro for the Bills (2005 & 2006) during a long career. Others: Doug Bodger, Sabres; Jim Lorentz, Sabres; Tony McKegney, Sabres; Marvin Barnes, Braves.  

9 – Randy Smith, Braves. He wore No. 32 as a basketball player at Buffalo State, but switched to No. 9 during his time in the NBA here. Smith eventually became an All-Star. Randy was one of the best athletes in a league that was filled with them. Others: Mark Steenhuis, Bandits; Derek Roy, Sabres; Rudy Pikuzinski, Stallions; Roy Hobbs, Knights.

10 – Craig Ramsay, Sabres. He showed up during the 1971-72 season, and stayed through 1985. The left winger was one of the best defensive forwards in the league (winning the Selke Trophy in 1985), and he once played in 776 straight games. Others: Dale Hawerchuk, Sabres; Marta, Flash; Carli Lloyd, Flash; Guy Trottier, (hockey) Bisons; Pat McCready, Bandits.

11 – Gil Perreault, Sabres. The original Sabre was one of the most exciting offensive players of his era. The NHL Hall of Famer stayed through 1986, and he was crucial in making Buffalo a successful hockey franchise. Others: John Tavares, Bandits; Bob McAdoo. Braves, Scott Norwood, Bills; Drew Bledsoe, Bills; Steve Atkinson, Norsemen.

12 – Jim Kelly, Bills. The quarterback might be the most significant player in team history, leading the Bills to four straight Super Bowls during an 11-year career here. In a sense, the team is still trying to replace him. He was a first-year inductee into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Others: Joe Ferguson, Bills; Charlie Cordas, Stallions; Christine Sinclair, Flash.  

13 – Ken Murray Jr., St. Bonaventure. There are good reasons why his number is hanging above the Reilly Center court. Murray was the first 1,000-point scorer in school history, and was an All-American in 1950. The shooting guard was drafted by the Chicago Stags of the NBA. Others: Jim Horne, UB; Alex Morgan, Flash; Eusebio, Stallions.

14 – Rene Robert, Sabres. The right winger arrived in a very one-sided deal with Pittsburgh for Eddie Shack, and became a part of one of the last great lines in hockey, “The French Connection.” Rene stayed here until 1979. Others: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Bills; Bill Butler, St. Bonaventure; Frank Reich, Bills; Bird Averitt, Braves.

15 – Jack Kemp, Bills. The quarterback was acquired on waivers from San Diego, and guided the Bills to AFL championships in 1964 and 1965. Jack moved from the football field to Congress after the 1969 season. Others: Jack Eichel, Sabres; Ernie DiGregorio, Braves; Iubo Petrovic, Stallions.  

16 - Pat LaFontaine, Sabres. He brought offensive excitement when he was acquired from the Islanders in 1991. Pat scored 148 points in the 1992-93 season – still the team record. The KeyBank Center might never have been built without him. Others: Ric Seiling, Sabres; Rich Kilgour, Bandits; Drew Willy, UB.

17 – Mike Foligno, Sabres. Acquired from Detroit in deal involving popular players Jim Schoenfeld and Danny Gare, Mike carved out a niche of his own during a long stay here. Foligno wore No. 71 after he was traded to Toronto. Others: J.P. Dumont, Sabres; Ryan Benesch, Bandits; Floyd Smith, Sabres.

18 – Danny Gare, Sabres. This second-round draft choice started on the checking line with Don Luce and Craig Ramsay, and wound up as a two-time 50-goal scorer. Gare was sent to Detroit in a huge 1981 trade. After retirement, Danny did some work on Sabres’ broadcasts. Others: Michal Grosek, Sabres; Kyle Orton, Bills; Naaman Roosvelt, UB; Kay Stephenson, Bills.

19 – Johnny Bench, Bisons. The future Hall of Famer played one game here in 1966, breaking a finger on a foul tip at War Memorial Stadium. A year later, he hit 23 homers in 344 at-bats, and was off to the majors for good. Others: Tim Connolly, Sabres; James Starks, UB; Cory Conacher, Canisius; Zeke Sinicola, Niagara.

20 – Don Luce, Sabres. Acquired from Detroit, Don became one of the best two-way forwards in hockey. He and Craig Ramsay were superb penalty-killers; they were often called by the other’s name during their time together. Others: Joe Cribbs, Bills; Robert James, Bills; Abby Wambach, Flash.  

21 – Willis McGahee, Bills. He was a superstar coming out of U. of Miami, but a knee injury allowed him to slip to the Bills in the 2003 draft. He had three good years here, and was traded to Baltimore after he suggested the team should move to Toronto. Others: Brian Spencer, Sabres; Drew Stafford, Sabres; Christian Ruuttu, Sabres.

22 – Fred Jackson, Bills. He came out of minor-league and indoor football to sign as a free agent with the Bills in 2006. By 2009, Fred was a 1,000-yard rusher. Jackson spent eight seasons here, and was one of the most popular Bills of his era. Others: Lindy Ruff, Sabres; Nate Clemens, Bills; Willie Evans, UB; Tony Masiello, Canisius.  

23 – Calvin Murphy, Niagara. The 5-foot-9 guard was arguably the most exciting player in Western New York college basketball history. The three-time All-American averaged 33.1 points per game, and had a fine NBA career after graduation. Others: Chris Drury, Sabres; Steve Priolo; Bandits; Rudy Pikuzinski, Blizzard; Adam Jones, Canisius.

24 – Booker Edgerson, Bills. He was one of the defensive backs on the great Bills’ teams of the 1960s. Booker is a member of the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame and the Bills’ Wall of Fame. He earns points for community work. Others: Bill Hajt, Sabres; Stephon Gilmore, Bills; Harrison Browne, Beauts.

25 – Luke Easter, Bisons. The African-American slugger probably would have been a Hall of Famer had he been born a decade later. Even so, he hit 113 home runs in three seasons with the Bisons (1956-1958), and was immensely popular. Others: Dave Andreychuk, Sabres; LeSean McCoy; Bills; Roland Hooks, Bills; Essie Hollis and Earl Belcher, St. Bonaventure.  

26 – George Saimes, Bills. After a great career at Michigan State, Saimes became the best free safety in the history of the American Football League. George is on the Bills’ Wall of Fame and was selected for the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame. Others: Thomas Vanek, Sabres; Charles Romes, Bills; Derek Plante, Sabres.

27 – Michael Peca, Sabres. He was considered the heart of the Sabres teams that had some success during the late 1990s. Michael won a Selke Trophy as the NHL’s best defensive forward during the 1996-97 season. He was traded to the Islanders. Others: Larry Playfair, Sabres; Teppo Numminen, Sabres; Ken Irvin, Bills.

28 – Bob Sauve, Sabres. The goalie is best remembered for back-to-back playoff shutouts in Montreal in 1983. That feat has never been duplicated. Bob spent nine seasons in Buffalo, and won 119 games along the way. Others: Donald Audette, Sabres; C.J. Spiller, Bills; Thomas Smith, Bills.

29 – Jason Pominville, Sabres. He’s been part of the franchise since he was picked in the 2001 Entry Draft – if you don’t count those five years in Minnesota. Remember his short-handed goal in Ottawa to eliminate the Senators from the playoffs? Others: Mario Clark, Bills; Ken Montour, Bandits; Derrick Burroughs, Bills.

30 – Ryan Miller, Sabres. He was the team’s No. 1 goalie for almost nine years, and he might have been the best in the world for part of that time. The trade of Miller broke some hearts, and the team has yet to recover from it. Others: Tom Barrasso, Sabres; Ray Hall, Canisius; Jeff Manto, Bisons.

31 – Bob Lanier, St. Bonaventure. The greatest Bonnie of them all, he led the team to the Final Four of the NCAA basketball tournament in 1970. What if he hadn’t gotten hurt in the Regional? Bob had a great NBA career as well. Others: Daren Puppa, Sabres; Jairus Byrd, Bills; Swen Nater, Braves.

32 – O.J. Simpson, Bills. There’s never been a more exciting player in the history of the Bills, and his 2,000-yard season in 1973 will never be forgotten. Of course, his life after football has been a sad one for those who remember him as a player. Others: Rob Ray, Sabres; Jim Veltman, Bandits; Fred Hilton, Braves.

33 – Benoit Hogue, Sabres. This quick playmaker was drafted by the Sabres and spent three seasons as a regular. Then it was off to the Islanders in the Pat LaFontaine trade. He helped the Stars win a Stanley Cup in 1999. Others: Ronnie Harmon, Bills; Sam Gash, Bills; George Wilson Braves.

34 – Thurman Thomas, Bills. There wasn’t much Thurman couldn’t do on a football field. He could run, catch and block. No wonder he was the NFL’s Most Valuable Player in 1991, and is enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton. Others: Cookie Gilchrist, Bills; Jim Braxton, Bills; John Shumate, Braves.

35 – Matt Gantt, St. Bonaventure. The 6-5 forward was more than a supporting player for Bob Lanier with the Bonnies’ great 1969-70 team. A great leaper, he jumped center against Artis Gilmore at the start of the semifinal game. Others: Mika Noronen, Sabres; Carwell Gardner, Bills; Cornell Warner, Braves.

36 – Matthew Barnaby, Sabres. He was an unforgettable character in Buffalo, a tough and emotional player. Matthew wore out his welcome eventually and was traded to Pittsburgh for Stu Barnes, but fans remember him well. Others: Pat Kaleta, Sabres; Randy Mearns, Bandits; Nick Vitucci, Stampede.

37 – Nate Odomes, Bills. The cornerback was a second-round pick in 1987, and he took part in all four of the Bills’ Super Bowl appearances. Odomes left as a free agent for Seattle in 1994, and finished an eight-year NFL career with 26 interceptions. Others: Curtis Brown, Sabres; George Wilson, Bills.

38 – Mark Kelso, Bills. The Eagles drafted the safety out of William and Mary in the 10th round in 1985, but he found a home for eight seasons with the Bills a year later. Kelso had 30 career picks. He’s now serving as an analyst on radio for the team. Others: Jeff Nixon, Bills; Adam Creighton, Sabres.

39 – Dominik Hasek, Sabres. He might be the greatest goalie in hockey history, and we saw him at his peak. The Dominator won two Hart Trophies here as the league MVP, and led the team to the 1999 Stanley Cup Finals. Other: Bill Gerrie, Bandits.

40 – J.D. Hill, Bills. The first-round pick of Buffalo in 1971 was a dangerous wide receiver during his five years here, averaging more than 14 yards per catch in each season. He would have been even more dangerous in today’s game. Others: Robin Lehner, Sabres; Troy Cordingley, Bandits; Ed Rutkowski, Bills.

41 – Stu Barnes, Sabres. The forward was dependable and consistent during his four years here. He had always worn #14 before, but couldn’t here. So he flipped the numbers on his back – but still wrote #14 on his equipment. Others: Phil Villipiano, Bills; Ken Sutton, Sabres; Jamie Mueller, Bills.

42 – Tom Stith, St. Bonaventure. He was a two-time All-American for the Bonnies, and was the second overall pick in the NBA draft in 1961. Sadly, his pro career came to an abrupt end because of tuberculosis. Others: Butch Byrd, Bills; Richard Smehlik, Sabres; Walt Hazzard, Braves.

43 – Darris Kilgour, Bandits. An original Bandit, Kilgour won three championships in his first five years of pro play. He went on to have a Hall of Fame playing career, and then coached indoor lacrosse for more than a decade. Others: Tony Greene, Bills; Martin Biron, Sabres; Juan Mendez, Niagara.

44 – Elbert Dubenion, Bills. The wide receiver came out of Bluffton College, and became a standout in the early years of the Bills. In 1964 he averaged 27.1 yards per catch. Elbert was memorably nicknamed “Golden Wheels.” Others: Alexei Zhitnik, Sabres; Andrew Nicholson, St. Bonaventure; Anthony Cosmo, Bandits; Larry Fogle, Canisius.

45 – John Hummer, Braves. The Princeton forward was the first draft choice in the history of the Buffalo Braves, as the team passed over local favorite Calvin Murphy. He was traded to the Bulls for Gar Heard. Others: Hagood Clarke, Bills; Dmitri Kalinin, Sabres; Derek Keenan, Bandits.

46 – Khalil Mack, UB. It’s fair to call Mack the greatest football player in Bulls’ history. Come to think of it, he is one of the top five defenders in the NFL right now. Khalil was the fifth overall pick by Oakland in 2014. Too bad he didn’t just move down the road to the Bills. Others: Leonard Smith, Bills; Keith Moody, Bills.

47 – Curtis Brown, Bills. The running back from Missouri went in the third round to the Bills in 1977. He needed a year to become a regular, but was part of a couple of playoff teams in 1980 and 1981. Later in life he suffered from dementia. Others: Zach Bogosian, Sabres; Kirby Jackson, Bills; Peter Tavares, Bandits.

48 – Daniel Briere, Sabres. He came to Buffalo in a deal with Phoenix for Chris Gratton, one of the all-time steals for the Sabres. Daniel peaked in 2006-07 with a 95-point season, and then left for Philadelphia as a free agent. Others: John Pitts, Bills; Roosevelt Leaks, Bills; Marty O’Neill, Bandits.

49 – Booth Lustig, Bills. He’s remembered as the place-kicker who replaced Pete Gogolak, who jumped to the NFL’s New York Giants after the 1965 season. One of the game’s great characters, Booth also kicked for the Dolphins, Steelers and Packers.

Go to Buffalo's Uniform Numbers - Part One

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