Jeff Manto

Jeff Manto

Buffalo Bisons Home Run Leader

Should Western New York baseball fans be given the opportunity to create their all-time starting line-up of the most exciting hitters in the Buffalo Bisons’ long and storied history, one name that unanimously would surface to the top of the list is that of Jeff Manto. During four seasons with the Bisons, Manto kept fans on the edge of their seats with each trip to the plate, providing excitement, nail-biting anticipation and often delivering awesome at-bat drama.

A native Pennsylvanian, Manto entered Temple University as a pitcher and ended up playing four different positions for the Owls. By the time he graduated he held numerous school baseball records, was selected to the East Region All-Star Team, was a member of two Atlantic 10 Conference championship teams and played in two NCAA tournaments.

In 1985 he was selected in the 14th round of the amateur draft by the California Angels and played nine seasons in the major leagues with eight different ball clubs. He left his mark indelibly in the majors in 1995 when he hit four home runs in four at-bats, totaling 17 home runs for the year in 89 games with the Baltimore Orioles – alongside Cal Ripken who, that year, broke Lou Gehrig’s consecutive games played record. Manto was a member of the 1993 National League Champion Philadelphia Phillies and played for the 1999 World Champion New York Yankees.

Spanning 16 years in baseball, Manto was the International League’s Most Valuable Player in 1994, one of four such titles in his career. As a Bison, teammates listened and learned from the respected Manto and in turn, Manto spoke loudly with his bat. He hit 79 home runs in 276 games, averaging a home run every 11.7 at-bats. For his career, 48 percent of Manto’s minor league hits were for extra bases.

In 1997 Manto rose to legendary status in Buffalo when over the course of two months, he homered 20 times in 54 games, rallying the Bisons from a 4½ game deficit to a 7½ game advantage in the American Association East before getting the call to Cleveland on August 1st. The Bisons went on to win their first league title that year, as Manto’s Indians claimed the American League championship. Manto was the first Bison player to hit three home runs in one game and had back-to-back 20 home run seasons in 1997-98.

Inducted into the Temple University Athletic Hall of Fame and the Buffalo Baseball Hall of Fame, Jeff Manto ranks second in the Bisons’ modern era with 207 RBIs, and along with Ollie Carnegie and Luke Easter, is one of only three former Bisons out of more than 2,600 to have his uniform retired.