The three best sports journalists in Buffalo, my hometown, in my lifetime, were all connected by their coverage of the once, brief, but mighty Buffalo Braves (now, not so mighty Clippers) of the NBA.
Van Miller was the play by play announcer for WBEN radio. Miller continued to broadcast the Bills for decades after the Braves left town, just as he had for many years pre—dating the Braves era. He was also the senior sports anchor for WBEN and later (name change) WIVB Channel 4, Buffalo's CBS affiliate.
But Miller's special gift was play by play. The recently retired Miller combined intelligent language, sports cliche and more than a little of his own spontaneous poetry as he painted a vivid enough picture of action on the court or the field to make a blind person think he or she was viewing the game.
Phil Ranallo, columnist for Buffalo's now defunct Courier—Express (morning newspaper) was a local icon not well known outside of Buffalo because he wasn't syndicated, but he was a brilliant writer who happened to cover sports, and he loved the Braves as much as any fan.
His columns "What's New Harry?" were hard to find after the newspaper shut down but Tim and Chris Wendell have managed to piece together a series of Ranallo's columns in their newly released book, 'Buffalo, Home of the Braves', Sun Bear Press. These columns along with fantastic photos from the Buffalo Evening News photographer Robert Smith, go a long way to tell the story of this wonderful yet star-crossed team.
Milt Northrup covered the Braves for the Buffalo Evening News. When former Brave and Buffalo sports icon Randy Smith recently passed away, I noticed an article at The Buffalo News website about Smith written by Northrup. He still has the gift.
I'm certain I read every one of Northrup's game recaps, each day-after. Again, not well known outside of Buffalo, Northrup could keep up with the best in his field. Had he lived in New York he would have won the honor of covering the Knicks for the Times.