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Buffalo connections

HowardbuffST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The only ex-Bisons on the World Series rosters are Phillies backup catcher Chris Coste and reliever Chad Durbin but we've seen a ton of players from both the Phillies and the Rays over the last 10 years in Dunn Tire Park.

Check out my column today to get your memory banks stirred. The Bisons staged six playoff series against the Durham Bulls (Rays) and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons (Phillies) from 1998-2004, and the Red Barons easily became their biggest rival in that time. Big names like B.J. Upton, Carl Crawford, Rocco Baldelli, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino, Ryan Howard, Carlos Ruiz and Pat Burrell were all regular visitors. In fact, Howard's last Triple-A game was in Buffalo in 2005; Howard played in the afternoon, Jim Thome got hurt that night and Howard was gone from the minors for good the next morning.

Rays backup outfielder Jonny Gomes, who was front and center in the Coco Crisp brawl with the Red Sox in June, was in the middle of the jaw-flapping as the Bisons and Bulls nearly brawled during the 2004 playoffs. Buffalo infielder Brent Abernathy had the best line when he accused Gomes of "swinging wet newspapers" with all his trash talking.

Keep it here all day as we'll bring you more info as the players from both sides stage their first official Series workouts and meet the media. And be sure to join our live Series chat Wednesday at 11 a.m.

---Mike Harrington

(Photo: Ryan Howard bats against the Bisons in 2005 for Scranton with Chris Coste on deck/John Hickey-Buffalo News)

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