It is with great excitement to share the announcement that Rich Entertainment Group’s President of Rich Baseball Operations, Mike Buczkowski has been inducted into the John Timon Society! This is the highest recognition given by Bishop Timon High School for their alumni for career and community achievements. Mike has been working with Rich Baseball Operations for over 35 years, and his tenure as Bisons General Manager spanned 26 seasons, the longest tenure of any general manager in the 135-year history of the franchise. During that period, the club led their league in attendance seven times, including the International League’s all-time attendance record set in 1998. In 2020, Mike united Toronto Blue Jays management with local and State elected officials in a successful effort that brought Major League Baseball to Buffalo for the first time in 105 years.
Beyond running Rich’s Baseball Operations, Mike has spent his career supporting the community at large. Mike is a board member for Western New York United Against Drug & Alcohol Abuse Foundation, the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame, the Buffalo Bisons Charitable Foundation and is also a member of the Board of Trustees for Villa Maria College. The Buffalo Bisons Charitable Foundation supports hundreds of local organizations and causes each year, such as stepping in to help a local youth sports group after its equipment was stolen, donating $20,000 to City of Buffalo’s COVID-19 initiatives, and together with the MLB, supporting a local youth athletic program located in the neighborhood of the Buffalo mass shooting.
Mike has been instrumental in the expansion and development of Rich’s three minor league baseball teams. His dedication to the company has ensured our baseball operations stay true to our company mantra; bringing friends and families together through unique and memorable experiences.
With this historic induction and an impressive career with Rich’s, I had the privilege of interviewing Mike Buczkowski. We talked about his time with Rich Baseball Operations, what inspires him, and advice he could share. Here’s what he had to say.
This historic achievement is the highest recognition given by Bishop Timon High School for their alumni for career and community achievement. How does that make you feel?
It’s very humbling to be recognized by my high school which has a 75-year tradition of higher education and successful people. I never thought I’d be recognized this way and I’m beyond honored.
Who had the biggest impact on you during your time at Bishop Timon St. Jude High School?
I feel that so many people had an impact on me during my time at school. I remember the great teachers and coaches that left lasting impressions. I especially appreciate my classmates, many of which are lifelong friends.
Tell us about your very first job and what you learned from it.
My first “real job” was working at the Trico plant helping to assemble windshield wipers and various other automobile parts while in college. While there I came to the realization that I needed to focus more on my studies and my quest to work in a field that I really enjoyed.
With more than 35+ years with Rich’s, what are some lessons learned along the way.
It’s astounding the amount I have learned about business, baseball, leadership, and innovation since working at the Bisons. I’ve had a great opportunity to learn from Bob and Mindy Rich, two people that I respect more than I can articulate.
What is your “Why”? What gets you up in the morning?
To continue to work with people who have a passion to strive to make our teams – Bisons, Naturals & Black Bears – a vital part of the communities we live in as well as my love of the great game of baseball.
Tell us about your career path at Rich’s and how that led to becoming president of Rich Baseball Operations?
I was afforded tremendous responsibility and trust by the leaders of our organization at an early stage of my career. I started with the Bisons during an historic and unique time, we were playing our last season at War Memorial Stadium and getting ready to open a new ballpark downtown while also working to land a MLB expansion team for Buffalo. My responsibilities were public & media relations and helping to communicate the record-breaking success of the team during that time. This afforded me opportunities to learn the importance of thoughtful strategy, goal setting and what it takes to commit to a greater good.
What is a typical day like for you?
There really isn’t such a thing in baseball and especially now, working with 3 teams. There are many things within our control but also much that can’t be controlled like play of the teams and especially weather. We always say, it’s a game of adjustments and while it’s important to have a plan, it’s just as important to be able to pivot when things don’t go as planned.
What has been the most significant challenge in your career?
I think the most significant challenge in my career has been the transition from having overall responsibility for one team in Buffalo, to now having responsibility for three teams across the country. I now work with associates, community leaders and elected officials in Morgantown, West Virginia, Northwest Arkansas, and Buffalo.
Who would you say has had the greatest influence on you as a leader and why?
Very hard to name just one person but having the opportunity to work directly with Bob and Mindy Rich is at the top of my list. With that being said, I find myself constantly relying on the values that my parents taught me and the importance of treating people fairly and with respect.
What advice would you give someone going into a leadership position for the first time?
To never stop learning and understand there is always more than one way to achieve your goals. People are an organization’s best asset and nothing meaningful will be accomplished alone.
In one sentence, can you tell us what the most important thing about being a leader is?
Always strive to do what is right.
Mike, this next part is a fun game we play during our REG Leadership Roundtable Series. Answer the questions with your “First Reaction” in just one to three words only! Here we go:
In 2 words or less, what makes a successful company president?
Passion & Communication.
Describe Rich’s Baseball Operations in one word?
Describe Rich’s Baseball fans in one word?
What’s one attribute you look for when hiring an associate?
I look for people that are very good communicators.
What is the one word you want your customers / fans to say about Rich’s Baseball?
In three words or less, describe what it takes to be successful?
Compassion, innovation, and commitment.
What is the one word that you believe has the most power in the English Language?