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12 honored as Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame inducts Class of 2016

Bud Carpenter was quite athletic growing up.

He played football, basketball, baseball and ran track and field at Allegany High School. He also played volleyball in the Air Force.

But those feats aren’t why he was among the 12 being inducted into the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame on Thursday night at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center.

The reasons he received the distinguished honor:

• His award-winning work as head trainer for the Buffalo Bills the past 20 years.

• His dedication to high school sports, specifically Western New York wrestling as president of the Ilio DiPaolo Scholarship Fund.

• His willingness to give back to the community.

“To be inducted means a great deal to me,” said Carpenter, who has worked with the Bills for all but one year since 1981. “I feel like I’m representing the organization but more importantly I feel like I’m representing a lot of outside organizations like the Ilio DiPaolo Scholarship Fund, Kids Escaping Drugs, Center for Handicapped Children, the DARE Program of Orchard Park. … I feel like that’s why I’m here.”

The hallowed shrine of Western New York sports welcomed its newest members during its 26th annual dinner-induction ceremony. Other honorees included Reggie McKenzie, Benjamin “Benji” Bluman, Don Bosseler, Sal Buscaglia, Alexander Mogilny, Ed Michael, Cindy Wyatt, Bob Westphal, Frank Rustich, Frank Offermann and Carl Brandt.

Carpenter has done a lot for the area he’s called home his whole life, but his dedication to the physical conditioning of Bills players is the reason he’s joining many of them in the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame.

Carpenter and his training staff have been honored as NFL Training Staff of the Year twice (2007 and 2014). The first commended the work of the team’s entire medical staff in helping ex-Bills tight end Kevin Everett recover from a potentially life-threatening and altering injury (fracture and dislocation of the cervical spine) suffered in an on-field collision on special teams.

From Hall of Famers like Thurman Thomas to the current generation of Bills, players consider Carpenter’s training advice as gospel.

He is just the second person to serve as head trainer for the Bills. Like his mentor Eddie Abramoski, he has done hall-of-fame work.

“To be able to follow in the footsteps of my mentor and really good friend, it can’t be any sweeter than that,” Carpenter said. “To be here, it’s kind of awe inspiring because I’ve been in the audience so many times. ... It hasn’t sunk in yet. I’m not sure it’s going to until I walk off that podium.”

McKenzie spent 11 seasons with the Buffalo Bills and earned First Team All-Pro honors twice, including 1973 when he helped pave the way for running back O.J. Simpson’s 2,000-yard season. He started a team record 134 games after being a first-round pick of the Bills in 1972.

He played during an era when Buffalo had franchises in the three major sports (NFL, NHL and NBA’s Braves). He recalled how he made friends with athletes from the other two teams and maintains friendships with Danny Gare and Rene Robert.

He joins them in the Hall.

“Coming here and being part of this is more than special,” McKenzie said.

Bluman is one of the top scholastic basketball officials in the area, often drawing the assignment to work the biggest games. He’s set to begin his 43rd season in two months, but before becoming an official, he was a three-sport standout at Riverside and played baseball and basketball at Buffalo State. He also starred in slo-pitch, earning Slo-Pitch Player of the Year honors in 1980 and ‘81.

Bosseler starred at Batavia High School and then University at Miami (Fla.) en route to playing eight seasons in the National Football League with Washington. With the Hurricanes, he earned first team All-American honors in 1956 and MVP laurels at the Senior Bowl.

Buscaglia coached women’s basketball for 39 years, guiding teams to NCAA Tournaments appearances at both the Division III and Division I levels. He coached Hilbert from 1977-90, winning 235 games and leading the Hawks to eight national tournament appearances. After helping the University at Buffalo transition to the Division I era – winning 23 games in its first D-I season, he coached at Manhattan and Robert Morris, leading the Jaspers to one NCAA Tournament and the Colonials to the NCAAs thrice. He went 712-369 in his career.

“I grew up in the West Side … To be recognized by the city you grew up and spent most of your life is humbling and it’s extremely exciting for myself, the players, my family and friends,” said Buscaglia, who still has a home in Buffalo. “They all share in this. To be recognized by the city is something.”

Mogilny starred for the Buffalo Sabres, forming a lethal scoring tandem with Pat Lafontaine during the 1992-93 season in which he scored a team-record 76 goals and finished with 127 points. The fast, slick stick-handling winger amassed 211 goals and 444 points in his 381 games with the Sabres and finished his 16-year career with 473 goals and 1,032 points in 990 games. He was part of the New Jersey Devils’ Stanley Cup-winning team in 2000.

Michael coached wrestling at UB for 21 seasons, coaching 39 All-Americans and guiding the school to the NCAA Division III title during the 1977-78 season. He led the Bulls to seven state championships.

Wyatt was track and field standout in the shot put and discus, so good she qualified for the 1964 U.S. Olympic Team in the shot. She won silver at the Pan-American Games in the discus in 1963, won indoor national titles in both in 1961 and ’63. She also won three national outdoor titles in the shot (1958-59, ’61) and two in the discus (1958 and ’61). She won national women’s powerlifting championships from 1976-79, setting 20 world records along the way.

• Those honored posthumously included Westphal, the “Father of Youth Hockey” and founder of the Buffalo Regals in 1954. He coached 55 seasons, teaching the sport to more than 10,000 youths and helping the Regal teams compete for several state and league titles. Though not in the game it to coach future professionals (he just wanted to teach kids the values of hard work, pride and teamwork in a safe, fun environment), those he helped make the NHL include fellow Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame members Aaron Miller and Todd Marchant.

• Rustich, a former Lackawanna and Canisius College athlete, was a respected football and boxing official who worked 227 professional fights, including the Muhammad Ali versus Ken Norton title fight in which Norton broke Ali’s jaw en route to the victory.

• Offermann owned and served as team president of the Buffalo Bisons from 1928-35. He brought night games to the sport five years before the first Major League Baseball primetime game in Cincinnati. He also cultivated fans as the Bisons were among the first minor-league teams to broadcast games on the radio and hold game-day giveaways for fans. The Bisons’ Stadium was renamed for him after his death in 1935.

• Brandt passed away in 1954 but was a former track star at Hutch-Tech, winning the national indoor junior 600-meter championship in a then record of 1 minute, 15.4 seconds. Born in 1896, Brandt set several other local, national and world records over a span of four decades.

email: mrodriguez@buffnews.com

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