What it looked like Wednesday: Getting beers at Pilot Field, late ’80s

By Steve Cichon

Regardless of what the temperature is or how much snow is in the forecast, the Bisons’ first home game is as sure a starting point for Buffalo’s spring as any other measure.

Buffalo News archives

Part of what makes a trip to the ballpark so enjoyable is the communal nature of thousands of baseball fans getting beers from the same vendors for decades.

Buffalo News archives


One of Buffalo’s all-time most popular sports personalities, Conehead — known as Tom Girot when deconed — has been wandering the stands of Buffalo sporting events with ice cold beer since the early ’70s. His all-time record sales day came at a Bisons exhibition game at the Rockpile. Fans tossed back 59 cases, all served up with the Conehead guarantee, as the Bisons played the World Series Champion Pittsburgh Pirates in 1979.


Buffalo News archives

The Earl of Bud:

Though he’s been gone from the stands for almost two decades, Earl “The Earl of Bud” Howze is still a household name and a testament to how much Buffalo loves its beer and beer vendors.

He started hawking beer to Bisons fans in 1979, the same year the team returned to the field after a decadelong hiatus. For almost two decades, it was his style as much as his product which endeared him to a generation of thirsty sports fans. His white tuxedo tails with his nickname emblazoned in red were sponsored by Heidie’s Tuxedo.

Even my unflappable, no-nonsense grandfather — a longtime season ticket holder for the Bills and the Sabres, a man who was rarely impressed with any notion of pageantry or exhibition beyond what the game on the field or the ice, was really impressed with The Earl of Bud.

“They should get rid of that Pee-Wee Herman,” grumbled Gramps, “This guy is 10 times the dancer.”

Of course, as little as Grandpa Coyle liked nonsense, he loved ice-cold beer — which likely explains it all.


Buffalo News archives

There have always been beers on the concourse, too. In fact, that’s where most of Buffalo knows they can find Conehead at the arena these days. In 1989, choices on the concourse were limited to only a few bottled varieties not carried around the park by roving vendors.

Today, the selections include a dozen or more local craft brews if that Blue or Blue Light — even served by the Conehead — doesn’t get the job done for you.

The Butcher and Preservation

By Steve Cichon | steve@buffalostories.com | @stevebuffalo

I was saddened to hear of the death of Donald Palmer, forever etched in Buffalo’s memory as “The Butcher.” He will remain forever one of Buffalo’s sports and pop culture icons. Rest in Peace. -Steve Cichon 11/22/16

BUFFALO, NY – I love preservation and giving current context to Buffalo’s old stuff. My attic is a testament to my single handed efforts at saving our city’s past.

Sometimes, though, I’m frustrated that we don’t celebrate things as a city until they are moments from the wrecking ball.

The Bisons have been here forever. They aren’t going anywhere. They have beer and peanuts and baseball. And a giant TV screen. Do we have to wait to show them massive amounts of Buffalove until they decide to move to Carolina with Carborundum or Arizona with Teds?

It’s hard to believe that the Bisons just wrapped up the 26th season of baseball at PilotNorthAmericareDunnTireCocaColaJimmyGriffin (sorry if I left one out) Field.


The Bisons’ Most Famous “Bat Boy”: The Butcher at War Memorial Stadium, “The Rockpile,” in 1986.

Also hard to believe: if any good Buffalonian were on Family Feud, and RichardDawsonRayCombsLouieAndersonTheGuyFrom-HomeImprovementJohnOHurleySteveHarvey (sorry if I left one out) asked, “Name a Bisons’ Bat Boy,” we’d all have an immediate number one answer.

No other baseball city in the country has a bat boy turned bat man who lasted through two baseball stadiums and became an icon like our Butcher, shown above in 1986 at War Memorial Stadium.

We love our Bills and Sabres, but our Bisons are a much more Buffalo organization at the heart of it.

Mayor Griffin’s brass ones built the ball park. He just started building it, and sending some of the bills to Albany. And they paid.

The most famous Bisons of the last few decades include the Butcher, Conehead, The Earl of Bud, Larry the peanut guy, and Irv from the 7th inning stretch.

For the record, that’s beer, beer, peanuts, and shouting obnoxious things in unison during Gary Glitter’s Rock’N Roll Part 2. There’s some genuine, real article Buffalove.

It’s too late now, but maybe next season we can get all hipster and act like we just unearthed this amazing gem that is soooo Buffalo that we need to go and look at it, and drink beer. It’s at Washington and Swan.

Our grandfathers and great-grandfathers worked in grain mills or steel plants and nothing will bring them back. But guess what? They also watched the Bisons at Offerman Field.

And many of us went with our dads to the Rockpile. And the “new” ballpark.

It’s like preservation, without having to strap yourself to anything!

I love finding new-old stuff to rally behind, but I like the old-old stuff, too.

So, I hope I’m not alone in grabbing my Red&Blue/Green&Red/Blue&Orange/backtoRed&Blue (sorry if I left one out) Bisons gear, and looking forward to opening day at a home grown institution that screams Buffalo by screaming “WHO NEEDS A BEER…”


Originally appeared on Trending Buffalo on September 3, 2013