Buffalo Bisons superfan Mark Aichinger has been a fixture behind home plate at Sahlen’s field for more than 25 years. Known around the league as one of the most vocal homestead fans, Mark, the 59-year-old man from North Buffalo who is legally blind and deaf in one ear, was recently informed that he’ll be the featured character for a limited edition bobblehead giveaway offered free to the first 3,000 fans entering the ballpark on September 2, compliments of Farm Rich.
“Mark isn’t just a fan, he’s part of the Bisons experience, not only for our staff but for other fans and players as well,” said Bisons’ General Manager Anthony Sprague. “If you go to a Bisons game and Mark isn’t here, you don’t get the same experience as you would if he was here.”
Sprague went on to say that Bisons fans and players feed off Mark’s energy and passion. He even noted that when former Bisons players and coaches return to Buffalo, they look for Mark in the stands.
Mark can be found following all the on-field action closely from his seat in section 102 with a portable radio pressed to his ear. Mark entertains fans with his animated calls and enthusiastic cheers and jeers and brings a unique homefield advantage to the Herd from his regular perch behind home plate.
The newly designed bobblehead celebrates one of Mark’s signature moves – the figurine has its left arm in the air and its right finger under the armpit, the very pose Mark makes when he yells, “You stink!” at an opponent.
Bobbleheads have become a staple in the fan collectible space, however, as Sprague explained to Mark, many players go their entire career without being honored in this special way. While we don’t have exact count on the number of bobbleheads the Bisons have designed and distributed in franchise history, Brad Bisbing, Assistant General Manager/Marketing & PR, says the club has released one or two (up to a maximum of three) per season since the late 1990s.
“The non-athlete bobbleheads are pretty rare, other than mascots,” said Bisbing. “Our most notable one was in 2005 when we did a Tim Russert bobblehead giveaway and Tim was at the game with his dad and son.”
The only other bobbleheads Bisbing recalls that didn’t feature a player, manager, or mascot, honored two fan-favorite beer vendors at the ballpark, the ‘Earl of Bud’ and ‘Conehead.’
Bisons staff reported that fans are eager to join in the celebration on September 2 and plan to “pack the park” in honor of Mark as the team pays tribute to the incredible impact one fan can have on a team, a community, and a city. In fact, the Herd recently increased the giveaway from 2000 to 3000 bobbleheads, thanks to the cooperation and support from Novel-T-Shirts sports promotions.
Sprague has formed a strong bond with Mark over their shared time at the ballpark, and he told REG that Mark embraces his role as a superfan and takes great pride in the fact that everyone knows who he is at Sahlen Field. Sprague also said that while Mark loves it when the Bisons win, he simply enjoys being at the downtown ballpark. In fact, even though the Bisons are his #1 team, Mark cheers for the hometown team at any Buffalo sporting event, and takes great joy in the experience of attending games and being surrounded by people.
One of Sprague’s favorite moments at the ballpark was in 2006 when Torey Lovullo, team manager at the time, he invited Mark onto the field to stretch and practice with the team before one of the last home games of the season.
Checkout the heartwarming video tweeted from the Bisons of the moment when Sprague informed Mark that he was getting a signature bobblehead. The overjoyed superfan received a round of applause from front office staff and Mike Buczkowski, President of Baseball Operations, took time to congratulate Mark, and to point out that he doesn’t even have his own bobblehead.
The Herd recently announced additional activities planned for September 2, including:
- A ceremonial first pitch thrown by Mark.
- Mark will be available for photos prior to the game, from 5:00-5:30 pm, for fans wanting to meet the ballpark icon.
- Video Messages from current and former Bisons players and coaches sharing just what Mark’s support has meant for so many years.
The team will also be selling a limited edition ‘Hey, You Stink’ t-shirt on September 2 for $25 with 100% of the net proceeds to benefit the Beyond Support Network. This 501c3 non-profit organization is where Mark currently works and offers a multitude of services for children and adults with disabilities.
Join the Herd in celebrating this remarkable fan on Saturday, September 2, during the 6:05 game against Indianapolis Indians! Bobbleheads will be distributed at the Inspire Dental Gate at Swan St. (opens at 5:00 pm). Purchase your game tickets here.