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He's Back!

Marty Brown to lead the Bisons in 2013

In Buffalo’s baseball world, so much has happened since that press conference in September, when the Buffalo Bisons announced that they were signing a two-year affiliation with the Toronto Blue Jays as their new parent club.

In October, Blue Jays manager John Farrell was relieved of his contract obligations and allowed to join the Boston Red Sox as their new manager. Bench coach (and former Bisons player and manager) Torey Lovullo soon followed. And just like that, two key onfield personnel with a distinct Buffalo connection were gone out the door. Farrell had directed the Indians’ minor league development and was the architect of Buffalo’s powerhouse teams during their run here.

Would Marty Brown, who the Bisons front office was counting on to return to Buffalo, also leave the Blue Jays organization for opportunities elsewhere?

That question has been answered, as Brown, who managed the Bisons for three seasons, 2003-2005, was introduced as the new manager for the team. Brown was present at a news conference on Tuesday at Coca Cola Field, where the team also unveiled its new logo and colors for next season.

For the Bisons, the team gets a leader who managed three winning seasons while here in Buffalo, and led Buffalo to the International League championship, and its 6th Governors Cup, in 2004. The Bisons have not seen any playoff action since Brown departed after the 2005 season. “It’s great to be back. We had some great successes here in Buffalo and we’re looking forward to doing it once again,” said Brown.

For the 49-year-old Brown, it is a homecoming of sorts. Even though this will be is 17th season as a field manager, he enjoyed some of his greatest successes while wearing the Buffalo Bisons uniform. “I see a lot of similarities with the Blue Jays philosophy to that of Cleveland’s, and that is the importance of winning at the minor league level. I want to make sure that we have winning baseball, competitive baseball, every night I’m here.”

After his departure from the Herd, Brown spent five seasons in Japan managing two different teams, before returning to this continent at the invitation of Farrell to manage Toronto’s AAA team in Las Vegas. Brown led the Las Vegas 51’s to a respectable 79-64 record in 2012, despite having to field a team that was ravaged due to a horrific run of injuries at the big league level. Many thought that Las Vegas was set for a championship run last year before the callups took their toll.

The return of Brown to the Bisons was anticipated as early as 2011, when Brown returned to this continent. With the Mets’ fortunes falling in Buffalo, speculation began as early as last season that Toronto might be replacing New York when that affiliation agreement ended after the 2012 season. When interviewed in 2011, following a 51s’ game, in Reno, Nevada, Brown declined to speculate what might happen down the road with the Jays and his team. But when asked if he would jump at the opportunity to manage the Bisons again, he replied, “In a New York minute.”

The rumors just continued to be fueled during this past summer’s AAA All Star Game held in Buffalo. Brown was the manager of the Pacific Coast League squad, and drew a huge contingent of media and baseball officials during the onfield team practice. Brown clearly relished being in the spotlight, and spoke wistfully of his time and memories in Buffalo, none more special than parading around the field with the Governors Cup and partying with the fans after the team’s memorable championship run in 2004. He pointed out the Buffalo fans again in his remarks this week. “These are some of the best fans. And not just remembering them when I managed here, but when I played here, against the Bisons. It would be the seventh inning, we’d be up three runs, all of a sudden some music gets cranked up, ‘Bennie and the Jets,’ something like that, and the fans are pumped. I say, ‘Uh oh, this isn’t over with yet.’ Buffalo is truly a great baseball town. One of the finest I’ve ever been part of.”

There is much more happening with the Toronto Blue Jays this off season, and it has to do with several blockbuster trade acquisitions which just took place last week. The mega-deal between the Miami Marlins and the Jays brings all star shortstop Jose Reyes, pitchers Mark Buerhle and Josh Johnson, catcher John Buck, and outfielder Emilio Bonifacio to Toronto. The team did not stop there, then bringing in outfielder Melky Cabrera to the team. Just like that, Toronto becomes the offseason favorite to capture the AL East and return to the postseason for the first time since they won the World Series in 1993.

Brown dispeled any notion that the trades will hurt his team at AAA. “Some guys we’ll have to bring up sooner, some of those guys in the trade didn’t figure into Buffalo’s roster for next season. But we are stocked, and we’ll be fine,” Brown promised.

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