If you lived at War Memorial Stadium during the summer in the 1980s, there's plenty to ready about today in the wake of the sudden passing of Donald Palmer, better known as "The Butcher". As Bob DiCesare wrote in his appreciation, The Butcher defined an era.
The rotund batboy was one of the main personality points of the early days of the Bisons' modern era of Triple-A baseball, sprinting from the on-deck circle to try to scoop up the foul balls that rolled down the netting. You can't think about a day or a night in the Rockpile without thinking of him.
There was a lot of mustard on The Butcher's act and the crowd ate it up. From the voluminous archives of former radio announcer Pete Weber, listen to these clips -- and to the fans' response.
The Butcher even did a station ID for WBEN, circa 1986!
And, of course, he was a big part of the memorable War Memorial Stadium finale on August 30, 1987.
The end came when the team moved to then-Pilot Field in 1988. The Butcher was there on Opening Day, April 14, 1988, but it quickly became apparent that the opening of the gleaming new stadium would be the end for his act. And circumstances that first day dictated it too. The first foul ball went into the net and started to roll down, out ran The Butcher, the crowd started to yell ..... and the ball stuck on the net.
The crowd booed, The Butcher looked baffled and everyone realized there was a problem. A much gentler sloped netting at the new park meant far fewer plays and, really, no need for a batboy shagging the balls.
By May of 1988, it was clear the end was at hand for The Butcher, as Donn Esmonde wrote in this memorable column. RIP to one of Buffalo's great characters, baseball or not, from the 1980s.
— Mike Harrington (@BNHarrington) November 22, 2016