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Bisons GM Mike Buczkowski named IL Executive of the Year

Mike Buczkowski, the Buffalo Bisons longtime general manager and the president of Rich Baseball Operations, has been named the 2019 winner of the Dave Rosenfield Executive of the Year award by the International League.

Selected by fellow GMs and officials from the IL's 14 clubs, Buczkowski will receive the award at Baseball's Winter Meetings in December in San Diego.

Buczkowski, a product of Bishop Timon and Canisius College, just completed his 26th season as GM, the longest tenure in the 135-year history of the franchise. During that time, the Bisons have led the International League in attendance seven times and have drawn better than a half-million fans in each season.

Buczkowski's work with the team dates to 1987, its final season at War Memorial Stadium. He has been in the front office for all 32 seasons of Sahlen Field's existence.

“Mike’s talent was apparent when he started for us 30 years ago as a PR assistant and has only grown over time,” Mindy Rich, president of the Rich Entertainment Group, said in a news release. “It’s so satisfying to see him receive this well-deserved recognition from his colleagues.

“'Bucz' is a true ‘baseball guy’ with a passion for the hospitality side of the game and the art of customer service, as well. Bison players and fans alike have come to realize that, over the 30 years that he has been a part of our team. We are a far better club because of his leadership.”

Buczkowski was promoted to his role of president of Rich Baseball prior to the 2019 season. He now oversees the Bisons as well as the Double-A Northwest Arkansas Naturals of the Texas League and the Single-A West Virginia Black Bears of the NY-Penn League. Combined, the teams sold 866,416 tickets to their ballparks in 2019.

“The 2019 season was a special one in Buffalo for a number of reasons, including a new naming rights deal for the ballpark and new records in both sponsorship and group ticket sales and these successes are a testament to Mike’s vision,” IL President Randy Mobley said in the release.  “Mike continues to be a valued, highly respected leader in the International League boardroom and I am thrilled that his colleagues have honored him with this well-deserved recognition.”

The Bisons have been affiliated with the Toronto Blue Jays for the past seven seasons  and Buczkowski has led his staff to cast a wider net in sales, with nearly a quarter of the team's attendance now coming from Southern Ontario. Sahlen Field is also used for many non-baseball events, such as the National Chicken Wing Festival, the annual Taste of Country concert and the Sahlen Field Links, a fall showcase for golfers to drive from various spots in the ballpark on to the field.

Buczkowski is a board member of the Buffalo Bisons Charitable Foundation as well as the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame and the Western New York United Against Drug & Alcohol Abuse Foundation. He also serves on the marketing committee for Triple-A Baseball.

His  honor joins the list of major front office awards the team has won under Rich Products ownership.

The organization has twice been awarded the Baseball America Bob Freitas Award for overall operational excellence (1991, 2001) and was given the 1992 John H. Johnson Presidents’ Trophy for being the "Most Complete Franchise" after the fifth of its sixth consecutive seasons of selling one million tickets at then-Pilot Field.

Owner Bob Rich Jr. was the 1986 American Association’s Executive of the Year and the 1988 Sporting News Minor League Executive of the Year, the same year that Mindy Rich was named Rawlings Minor League Female Executive of the Year. Former vice president Marta Hiczewski won that same Rawlings award in 1991. In 2012,  account executive Frank Mooney was awarded the IL’s "Spirit of the International League" Award. Mooney passed away in 2015 at age 93.

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