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Sean Kirst: As Blue Jays near end of Buffalo stay, fans soak up the big leagues at Sahlen Field

1 10 0
20.07.2021

An overall as the Toronto Blue Jays play the Boston Red Sox during the sixth inning.

An overall as the Toronto Blue Jays play the Boston Red Sox during the second inning at Sahlen Field.

An overall as the Toronto Blue Jays play the Boston Red Sox during the second inning.

An overall as the Toronto Blue Jays play the Boston Red Sox during the second inning at Sahlen field on Monday, July 19, 2021.

Robert Benning, a former minor league pitcher, with his son Scott at the Blue Jays-Red Sox game.

The last step, as it so often goes, was the hardest. Robert Benning was on the absolute doorstep Monday of seeing big-league baseball in Buffalo for the first time in his life when his son Scott asked the security crew for a little help.

Robert Benning has a pacemaker. Scott Benning did not want his dad going through the metal detector at Sahlen Field, and workers hustled over to help. So Robert sidestepped the barriers and made his way in. On the concourse, he stopped to absorb the larger scene: more than 12,000 people pouring toward their seats to watch the Boston Red Sox defeat the Toronto Blue Jays, 13-4.

The tickets were a Father’s Day gift from Robert Benning's granddaughter, Chelsea, who did not want her dad or grandpa to miss Buffalo's big-league moment. Benning – who raised three children with his late wife, Adarienne – vividly recalled the last time he watched major leaguers play, in person. It was 1963, when baseball held an All-Star game in Cleveland, and Benning and a close friend from Orchard Park headed west for the chance “to see Mickey Mantle and all those guys, out on the field.”

Everything went fine until their brakes gave out, just as they got home.

Benning spent a career driving a truck for Bauer’s service station, a family business. As a child during the Great Depression, his first glove was for right-handers even though he threw lefty, because in those days you made do with whatever you could get. At first, he would catch the ball, switch hands, drop the glove and throw, but eventually he managed to find a glove for his left hand at Arthur's Hardware, a place that is still rolling.

Buffalo’s midsummer fling with the Toronto Blue Jays is all but over.

From day one, he loved the game. He grew up to be a skilled enough pitcher to play as a minor leaguer in the old New York Giants system, before he pitched for a........

© The Buffalo News


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