In the rare instances when the Rev. James J. Maher, C.M., isn't consumed with fulfilling his demanding duties as president of Niagara University, he enjoys cheering on the New York Mets.
On Tuesday night, Maher had an opportunity to do both simultaneously.
Approximately 25 NU alumni and friends joined Maher for a July 28 outing at Citi Field, the Queens-based home of the Mets. The group watched the game - a 7-1 Mets victory over the Philadelphia Phillies - from the owner's box, a luxury afforded through a friend of Maher's from his time at St. John's University.
Prior to the game, Maher spent a few minutes chatting with Mets manager Terry Collins, who posted a 246-186 record during his three seasons managing the Buffalo Bisons (1989-91). In 1971, Collins was an infielder for the Niagara Falls Pirates, the Single A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
A public greeting to the attendees from Niagara University was posted to the Citi Field scoreboard in the fifth inning.
"Terry Collins spoke very fondly of his time as manager of the Bisons and of his minor-league playing days in Niagara Falls," Maher said. "He was especially complimentary of the people in Western New York, and the way that he was welcomed with open arms. As a relative newcomer to the area, I wholeheartedly echo those sentiments."
Adding to the Buffalo connection, Tuesday night's winning pitcher, Bartolo Colon, remains the only pitcher to throw a no-hitter in the modern era of the Bisons. Colon completed that feat in 1997.
Maher will celebrate his first year as president of Niagara University this Friday, Aug. 1. Visitors to Maher's office on Monteagle Ridge will discover numerous Mets mementos, commemorating a fandom that has endured since his days growing up in Maywood, New Jersey.
Maher returns to the ballpark Wednesday evening, as Niagara University presents an event for alumni, students and employees at Coca-Cola Field in Buffalo. New athletic director Simon Gray will throw out the ceremonial first pitch before the Bisons take on the Indianapolis Indians.
For more information, contact Niagara University's Office of Alumni Engagement at 716-286-8787 or go online to www.niagaraalumni.com.
Pictured: Father Maher and Terry Collins