Photograph © Bob Gaver
"Despite a 66-74 record and a third straight year of missing the playoffs, the 50th anniversary and farewell season for War Memorial Stadium was a huge success. A mammoth stadium birthday party was held in August, honoring athletic greats from all the sports that had used the Rockpile. The final home game, a 7-5 loss to Nashville on Aug. 30 was a festive and memorable occasion, attracting a crowd of 25,412. Overall attendance came to a record-shattering 497,760 with the Beach Boys again setting the single-game record with 38,211 in the house for the July 26 game with Denver. The season started in disastrous fashion as Buffalo lost its first six games, and only got worse as the Herd gave up 37 runs in back-to-back April losses to Oklahoma City (22-6 and 15-3) in the Rockpile. On May 27 with the team 13-28 and 11 1/2 games out of first place, the parent Indians fired manager Orlando Gomez and replaced him with former big-league catcher Steve Swisher. The Bisons won their first four games under Swisher and 13 of their first 18, eventually pulling within two games of .500 before falling out of the playoff race. The Rockpile finale was typical of the season as Buffalo built a 4-0 lead that the pitching staff couldn't hold and turned into a 7-5 loss. Strangely enough, Tonawanda native Billy Scherrer earned the win for Nashville, a Cincinnati affiliate. Outfielder Dave Clark led the Buffalo attack with a .340 batting average, the best by a Bison since Frank Carswell's .344 in 1952. Clark also had 30 homers and 80 RBIs, one of several big years from a Buffalo hitter. Third baseman Eddie Williams (.291-22-85), outfielder Rod Allen (.302-17-92), first baseman Don Lovell (.292-19-69) and shortstop Jay Bell (.260-17-60) all thrived at the plate. The pitching staff, however, was brutal with a 5.58 team ERA. Bryan Oelkers had a staff-high 11 wins, a figure not nearly as impressive when you consider his 6.28 ERA. It was a one-year trip to Buffalo for the Indians. The Bisons announced a working agreement with the Pittsburgh Pirates that would commence in 1988 with the opening of Pilot Field." *Buffalo Bisons. The Bisons would go on to become the most successful Triple-A team in history at the new ballpark, breaking the all time record for attendance over and over again.