Former Bisons manager Marc Bombard and ex-Buffalo GM Don Labbruzzo will be inducted into the International League Hall of Fame as part of a three-man class this summer, the league announced today.
The third inductee is former Tidewater and Columbus first baseman Marshall Brant, who slugged 122 home runs from 1978-1983. The trio was selected by a vote of living IL Hall of Famers, longtime league executives, broadcasters, and members of the media (full disclosure: I have a vote).
Bombard's vote actually didn't take into account his 1992 season with the Bisons because it was in the American Association. Bombard quickly became a favorite of fans and forever a friend of the front office after posting an 87-57 record and Association East Division championship. The Bisons, however, suffered a four-game sweep to Oklahoma City in the Association finals.
The parent Pittsburgh Pirates fired Bombard after the season for "philosophical differences" and didn't have a winning season in their final two years here before being jettisoned by the Bisons to Calgary. He returned the next season with Indianapolis still reeling from his dismissal. Bombard went on to win the 1994 Association title at Indy and 700 games in the IL, including a record of 574 wins with the SWB franchise that stood until being surpassed by Dave Miley in 2014.
Bombard's Scranton teams appeared in four straight playoffs from 1999-2002, splitting memorable first-round series with the Bisons in 2001 and 2002. The '02 Red Barons suffered a stunning three-game sweep to Buffalo but remain the last IL team to win 90 games in the regular season.
Bombard, 65, coached in the big leagues for Cincinnati and Philadelphia and retired after managing Triple-A Round Rock in 2008 and 2009.
Labbruzzo worked in the IL for parts of 15 seasons with the Bisons, Syracuse and Rochester. He was the Herd's GM from 1958-60, a period highlighted by the team being awarded the 1959 Larry MacPhail Promotional Trophy winners for excellence in the area of promotions. The Bisons' combined attendance of more than 1 million over those three seasons had never been done in Triple-A, but Labbruzzo was let go by team President John Stiglmeier in a front-office power play.
The Bisons were in the process of moving out of Offermann Stadium and into War Memorial Stadium, which was pretty much the start of the franchise's decline in the 1960s. Labbruzzo became the GM in Syracuse for the next nine seasons and then returned to Buffalo to try to save a dying club in 1970.
It was a failed venture. The IL forfeited the Buffalo franchise to Winnipeg in June, 1970 and Labbruzzo took heavy losses by using his own money and borrowing on life insurance to pay bills. He later worked in Rochester and Louisville.
Labbruzzo was a 1987 inductee of the Buffalo Baseball Hall of Fame. He died in 1999 at age 81.