Sunday, September 07, 2008

Old School Weekend Warrior

By Tim Wendel

Autumn means colorful foliage to some, the start of the football season to others. But what I wax nostalgic about during this time of year is what we used to call our “Buffalo Sports Weekends.”

From 1974 to 1978, I was an undergraduate at Syracuse University. The football team was about as good as it is now. In other words, lousy. But that didn’t stop us from religiously cheering on the Orange Saturday afternoons. This was before the Carrier Dome went up, so we hunkered down in Archbold Stadium, which bore a striking resemblance to the old Rockpile.

Several times each fall, we’d go right from the SU game and drive to Buffalo in time to catch the Braves at the Aud. Of course, it was early in a new NBA season and, at least in 1974-75-76, the sky seemed the limit for a squad with Bob McAdoo (pictured above), Randy Smith, Ernie DiGregorio on the floor and Jack Ramsay calling the shots.

I’ll admit that early on the Braves were a way to flesh out Buffalo Sports Weekends. Usually we’d go to the Bills game Sunday afternoon and finish things off with the Sabres, back at the Aud, Sunday nights. Then we’d race back down the Thruway in time for class Monday morning. I didn’t take the best of notes those days, but I was there. I made it to class.

But during those years, the Braves won me over. I loved watching them play and was crestfallen when they left town.

When I tell people about those days, hitting the Braves, Bills and Sabres in 24-plus hours, they think I’m crazy. “How’d you pull that off?” they ask. Indeed, it seems hard to believe now. But sometimes that’s how the best of times roll out. You don’t realize how special things were until decades later.

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