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12/12/2008 1:39 PM ET
Ken Oberkfell Named Bisons Manager
16-year major league vet to lead Herd

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The Buffalo Bisons are pleased to announce that the New York Mets have selected Ken Oberkfell as the Herd's manager for the 2009 season. The 16-year major league veteran and World Series Champion is the Bisons' 15th manager in the team's Modern Era.

Oberkfell will be joined on the Bisons' staff by pitching coach Ricky Bones, hitting coach Luis Natera, athletic trainer Brian Chicklo and strength and conditioning coach Ken Coward.

"The Bisons are fortunate to have such a well-established leader as Ken Oberkfell to guide the team in 2009," said Mike Buczkowski, Bisons Vice President/General Manager. "With his extensive experience as both a major league player and a minor league manager, Oberkfell has proven himself a winner on the field and off."

Oberkfell, 52, is entering his 13th season as a minor league manager and his fifth at the helm of the New York Mets' Triple-A team (Norfolk Tides: 2005-06, New Orleans Zephyrs: 2007-08). In 2008, he split the season between New Orleans and New York after being named the Mets first base coach on June 17.

Oberkfell is 812-803 (.503 winning percentage) in his previous 12 seasons as a manager. He has led his team to the post season in four of his last five full campaigns, a stretch that began with a Florida State League (A) title with St. Lucie in 2003.

Oberkfell began his coaching career in 1997 in the Philadelphia Phillies organization, leading Piedmont (A) of the South Atlantic League for three seasons before moving onto Clearwater (A) of the FSL in 2000. In 2001, he joined the Mets organization to lead Capital City (A) for one season. He was promoted to St. Lucie in 2002 for two seasons before moving up to Double-A Binghamton in 2004.

Oberkfell's 16-year major league career included eight seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals. He played 137 games with the Cardinals in 1982 and helped the team to a World Series Championship. A lifetime .278-hitter with 29 home runs and 446RBI in 1,602 games, Oberkfell also played with Atlanta, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Houston and California. He led all National League second baseman in fielding percentage in 1979 (.985) and topped all NL third baseman in defense in 1982 (.972) and 1983 (.960). Oberkfell finished with more walks than strikeouts in 13 of his 16 seasons, with career totals of 546 walks to only 356 strikeouts.

Pitching Coach - Ricky Bones
Bones has spent each of the past two seasons serving as the pitching coach of the Double-A Binghamton Mets. Last season, the B-Mets finished 2nd in the Easter League in saves (41), 4th in fewest walks allowed (471) and 5th in team ERA (4.17). In 2006, his first year coaching in the Mets system, Bones won a Florida State League Championship with the St. Lucie Mets. He was also a minor league pitching coach in the Montreal/Washington organization for two seasons, 2004-2005. Bones pitched 11 seasons in the major leagues with San Diego, Milwaukee, New York-AL, Cincinnati, Kansas City, Baltimore and Florida with a career record of 63-82 and a 4.85ERA in 375 games. He was an American League All-Star with Milwaukee in 1994 and won 10+ games in three consecutive seasons with the Brewers (11 -1993, 10 -1994, 10 -1995).

Hitting Coach - Luis Natera
Natera is entering his 18th season in the Mets' organization and his first as the hitting coach for the Triple-A team. Last year, he held the same position for the Double-A Binghamton Mets. Under Natera, the B-Mets finished 4th in the Eastern League in stolen bases (109) and 6th in team batting average (.266). In 2007, he was the hitting coach of a St. Lucie Mets team that led the South Atlantic League with a .273 batting average. Natera also spent seven seasons as a manager of the Mets' Dominican Summer League team (1992-1997, 2002) with a combined record of 270-160 (.628). His teams never finished below second place in the division. Natera was originally signed by the Mets as a non-drafted free agent in 1984 and spent five seasons as an infielder in the organization. He hit .222 (211-949) before retiring as a player in 1989.

Athletic Trainer -Brian Chicklo
Chicklo is entering his eighth year as the Mets' Triple-A trainer and his 10th year in New York's organization. Last year, he was named Pacific Coast League Trainer-of-the-Year while with the New Orleans Zephyrs. Chicklo graduated from Shenandoah University in 1995 with a BS in Kinesiology and earned an MS Degree in Sports Injury Management from UNLV in 1998.

Strength and Conditioning Coach -Ken Coward
Coward spent the past seven seasons as the Mets assistant strength and conditioning coordinator for the minor leagues. He is certified as a strength and conditioning specialist by the National Strength and Conditioning Association. He is also a Level One United States weightlifting club coach with the US Weightlifting Association. Coward owns an online personal training company named Total Human Elevation.

-herd-