Remembering the “Mayor of Coca Cola Field”
by Andrew Kulyk (@akulykUSRT) - posted 9:24 pm, June 11, 2015
It seems that everyone connected with the Buffalo Bisons has a story about Frank Mooney, the 93 year old beloved account executive who worked for the team for over a quarter century.
Frank passed away yesterday, and his departure made it a very sad day at the ballpark, as fans, stadium employees and front office coworkers reminisced about the man who many called “The Mayor of Coca Cola Field”.
I have my own story, and it goes back to 1989, the second year of the new downtown ballpark. I was a season ticket holder, sharing the seats in 113-V with two associates with what was a three way split of 24 games each. Like many, we anticipated that the arrival of Major League Baseball expansion to Buffalo was an inevitability, and we wanted to have the rights to those prime locations in the special reserved section once that MLB team came.
So here was the issue…Two season ticket holders who sat to our right at the end of our row were smokers. Heavy smokers. As in, light one cigarette off the previous one. Back then smoking was allowed in the seating bowl, and my mom, who herself was an ex-smoker and throat cancer survivor, was heavily affected by second hand smoke. It got to the point where she would have to stop attending games because of the deluge of nasty cigarette smoke.
So I contacted the Bisons. And at the next game who came to greet us and ascertain the problem but Frank Mooney himself. He actually sat with us for three innings and got the smoke barrage first hand and saw how bothersome it was. “Let’s see what I can do,” said Frank.
The solution came quickly enough… a week later he permanently relocated us to 109-G, and now we were in shouting distance of the batter’s circle. Upgrading these seats was no small feat in those days.. the Bisons had 9000 season ticket holders and all those infield special reserved seats were spoken for.
Frank would come by and visit from time to time… he got to know my mom, and they would talk about the second world war, she, a scared young girl growing up in Berlin, Germany as the bombs and war arrived at her doorstep. He, a soldier in the US Navy serving in the pacific, sharing his own tales of bravery, combat, and the things he experienced.
I became a member of the Bisons media corps in 2004 writing for Artvoice, and got to run into Frank all the time. He was always around, or so it seemed, with a warm greeting and often a good story to tell. The Bisons could not have had a finer ambassador.
At tonight’s doubleheader at Coca Cola Field, I departed the press box after the first game had concluded, to sit in the seats behind home plate, to stand in tribute and a moment of silence with the fans and the stadium employees, and remember Frank. And as I reflected, it hit me that going to Bisons games is far more than just enjoying the games. Being in the media is far more than a primo seat in the press box and getting to hob nob with players and the manager for interviews and such. It is being touched by some truly extraordinary people. Frank Mooney fits into that class.
Farewell Frank. Thanks for your camaraderie. I am a better person to have known you.