Saturday, November 22, 2008

A Bigger Voice

by Chris Wendel

Last spring, we began working with "A Bigger Voice" an organization organized by Carol Ross of Louisville, Colorado. I credit my friend Dave Murphy with the introduction. As a fan 1970's NBA basketball, Dave recognized that the story of "Buffalo, Home of the Braves" had significance for people outside of Western New York and put us in touch with "A Bigger Voice".

Over the past few months the book project became a pilot project for the "A Bigger Voice" team, that helped us make huge strides in developing an online following and building our own web community. To learn more, take a look at our wrap up interview.

Book update: The "Farewell, Old Friend" tour of Buffalo last week was a resounding success in pre-selling copies of the book and making great connections with those who fondly remembered the Braves. Several mysteries were solved including the location of the Braves early training camp location (ECC-North) and exactly what happened when Dolph Schayes was dismissed as the Braves coach the second game into season two.

The combination of last week's event honoring Memorial Auditorium and the "A Bigger Voice" relationship spiked the hits on both of our blogs to unprecedented highs for the week ending November 22nd.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

One Last Time

by Chris Wendel

This is the weekend I want to call the "Rip VanWinkle Experience". The "Farewell, Old Friend" event at the Buffalo Convention Center was the final chance to celebrate Buffalo's Memorial Auditorium and realize again how quickly life and time can pass one by.

It seemed like more then a coincidence that the Aud was conceived the last time our country was going through a horrific economic struggle. The building was built as a WPA project driven by the Roosevelt Administration to to put people to work and stimulate a dead economy during the malaise of the Great Depression. This time around the circumstances were a bit different; a new arena has already been built and the now obsolete Memorial Auditorium is slated for the wrecking ball.

The events this weekend centered around the auctioning off of leftover Aud blue section seats and portions of the dasher boards, along with autograph sessions with former Buffalo Sabres, Braves, and Stallions. I never figured out where in a rec room or basement the dasher boards would fit in and I don't know if I would make it through a half of any game watching at home in the wooden chairs. Still it was intriguing to see the seats that were nicely refinished and purchased for up to $750 (for four).

We set up a table along side other card and memorabilia vendors. Although we had no product in hand to sell (yet), we passed out postcards with book information to hundreds of interested fans and many former Braves season ticket holders. Several former team employees stopped by and revealed antidotes of the Braves that I had never heard before.

Ernie DiGregorio, Randy Smith, and Dolph Schayes were also in the house today signing autographs. All three stopped by our table afterwards to look over the book chapter excerpts and like the other fans, they are anticipating the book release in February.

Hall of Famer Schayes spent a good ten minutes looking at pictures of his first year as the Braves coach, telling compelling stories and talking to fans in an incredibly polite and patient manner. Age the age of 80, it was amazing to see someone voted to the list of NBA's top 50 players work the crowd so well, even when many younger fans lacked the historical perspective to know exactly who he was.

As the live auction event in the other part of the hall wrapped up, former Sabre Danny Gare told the story of his first game in the Aud, when he scored 18 seconds into the contest. After hearing his short but moving speech of how he remembered the Aud, it was obvious that Gare is a true fan of the old building like the rest of us.

So now that the final celebration and acknowledgments are over, we all have our physical or mental pieces of Buffalo's Memorial Auditorium. May the old arena rest in peace.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Celebrating the End of the Aud

by Chris Wendel

I'm in Buffalo and contradicting some of my earlier thoughts on the demise of the Buffalo's Memorial Auditorium. As Richard Nixon used to say: "We received new information", which is a diplomatic way of saying that I changed my mind about embracing the old building one more time.

To meet more prospective buyers of the book and to see how the eminent demolition of the Aud will be celebrated, we are setting up an informational booth at the "Farewell, Old Friend" event at the Buffalo Convention Center.

So here's the latest deal on the book. With the extensive editing, recently uncovered photos and my recent marriage, the revised and realistic release date is now the end of January 2009. We made the decision in the beginning not to sacrifice on the quality of the book. In other words, it is better to take the time do it right than to produce a sub par product.

If you're heading to today's event in Buffalo, stop by and say hello. We have a special event promotion and plenty of chapter exerts to view.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Who do you Root for? Part 2

by Tim Wendel

Kevin Collins, a good friend of Buffalo, Home of the Braves, has come up with an intriguing answer to my question about what current NBA team to root for? Kevin reminds me that in light of the bizarre franchise swap of 1978, “the old Braves are the new Celtics and the old Celtics are the Clippers.”

So does that mean we can revel in winning last year’s title? Probably not. I don’t any parade preparing to head down Main Street. Still, I like the idea of the Braves living on as a championship club. Perhaps that’s what has always bothered me about the Braves’ institutional memory and storied history simply being passed off on the woebegone Clippers.

At their best the Braves had plenty of personality and top-flight talent. Already I can hear the mantra in my head – McAdoo, Ramsay, Ernie D., Randy, etc., etc., etc. As we all know, with a bit of luck and another wide body under the boards (where for art thou, Moses Malone?) the Braves could have been champions in their own right, in their own time.