A bronze statue honoring the late Buffalo Mayor Jimmy Griffin now stands outside the downtown ballpark he helped build.
Th statue was unveiled Friday afternoon outside of Coca Cola Field in the area known as James D. Griffin Plaza at the corner of Swan and Washington streets.
Griffin, who served as mayor for 16 years from 1978 to 1993, died in 2008. He was considered instrumental in getting what was then Pilot Field constructed in 1988.
"He was a fan. He loved baseball," said Bisons Vice President and General Manager Mike Buczkowski. "He was here, a season ticket holder up on the club level, fighting to catch foul balls."
Fellow South Buffalo Democrat Congressman Brian Higgins says Griffin and the landmark ball field will be forever linked. He says the statue is a fitting tribute to a man who loved the game.
"In the South Bronx, the original Yankee Stadium was nicknamed 'The House That Ruth Built.' And while Pilot Field has had several names over its history...in the hearts and the minds of people of Buffalo and Western New York, it will be forever known as 'The House That Jim Griffin Built,'" Higgins said.
While his dream of a major league team never materialized, Higgins says area baseball fans got "a first-class stadium that is renowned throughout the nation as a great, great place to enjoy professional baseball."
Higgins joked that the foundation for the 800-pound statue, which was poured just this morning, was finished on-time and under budget, typical of a Jimmy Griffin project
The statue, an action pose taken from a photograph that shows the left-handed Griffin throwing a pitch at the ballpark in 1986, was created by local artist William Koch.
"In this [photo] he's really trying to throw the ball," says Koch. "He was, at the time, really trying to bring Buffalo out of the blues because of the down economy. He thought this stadium would help rectify that and get things kick-started to start the city moving again. I thought the pose was indicative."
Griffin's son Tom Griffin says the tribute represents the eternal optimism his father had about the City of Buffalo.
"As people continue to flock to this beautiful downtown ballpark, this statue now stands as a symbol of hope. It's more than just a legacy and an honor to my father. My father believed, as we all believe, that Buffalo's best days are still ahead of it."