It was the Buffalo Bisons' day to celebrate, as the minor league baseball team opened its 2015 International League season by hosting Rochester Thursday afternoon at Coca-Cola Field. Helping them celebrate was Buffalo's new football coach.
Rex Ryan, who was hired by the Buffalo Bills in January, threw a ceremonial pitch prior to the start of the Bisons game. When speaking to reporters immediately after the ceremony, he took the time to detail his love of baseball. He also spoke about his continued embrace of the greater Buffalo community since taking the Bills job.
"I feel like I've been here for years," said Ryan. "I lived in Toronto for eight years but I really do identify with this community. There's no question about it, and obviously the way everybody's treated me, I feel great."
While living in Toronto as a youth, Ryan attended the inaugural game of the Bisons' current Major League partner, the Toronto Blue Jays, who debuted in 1977.
"I skipped school that day with my twin brother, not that it was going to hurt the GPA or anything," Ryan said with a smile. "I remember it had every kind of weather known to man. It snowed. It did everything."
Ryan has on numerous occasions shared his enthusiasm for his arrival in Buffalo. The Bisons' general manager, Mike Buczkowski, told WBFO it took just minutes for the team to receive a reply to their request for Thursday's appearance.
"He told me he's going to come back during the season," Buczkowski said. "We invited him to come take some batting practice with the team."
Ryan told reporters he has enjoyed several local restaurants and establishments since coming to town and has enjoyed meeting Bills fans.
"It almost feels like a family," he said. "It's part of the family and I recognize that."
As for the game, the Bisons lost their season opener to Rochester, 6-3.