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The stick-boy who was called into action as a pro goalie

Unknown Stories of WNY: Porky Palmer's night in the spotlight

BUFFALO, N.Y. — A couple of weeks ago the sports world was electrified when a zamboni driver stepped into the net and won a game for the Carolina Hurricanes.Well, Buffalo had its own version of the David Ayres story more than 50 years ago when a guy named Porky Palmer went from stick-boy to goalie for the old Buffalo Bisons, the hockey team that preceded the Sabres.

Porky was a stick boy, a skate sharpener, assistant equipment manager, and on November 20, 1964, the stick boy would add another job title to his resume.

"It's a regular work day on a Friday at the Pepsi Cola plant," Palmer said. 

Porky is retired these days and living in Las Vegas, but he remembers that game like it was yesterday. After working his 7 - 4 shift at the Pepsi bottling plant, he went down to the Aud to help the Bisons prepare for their road game in Rochester.

"So I got down there after working 8 hours, and we're loading the bus and Phil Watson, who was coaching the team, said hey why don't you bring your equipment," Porky said. "I said what!?! He said hey ya never know what's gonna happen."

Sure enough, after he wolfed down a sub sandwich on the bus,

"All the sudden five minute mark, Chadwick gets sat on, I think by our own defenseman," Porky said. 

Bisons star goalie Ed Chadwick has to leave the game with a concussion. Rochester Coach Joe Crozier offers the Bisons coach the services of his emergency goalie.

"So (Bisons Coach) Phil Watson looks them right in the eye and says, 'no I'm going to use the little fat guy over there.' I had a decent game I stopped 28 shots," Porky said. 

He even forced the game into overtime. 

"In the overtime I stopped the first shot," Porky said. "But the second one, Less Duff put it between my pads and that was it."

That left him with a loss, but a great story to last a lifetime, a spot in this re-taken team picture and his own chapter in the unknown stories of Western New York.

Porky began working for the Bisons in 1953, and became one of the Buffalo Sabres very first employees when the NHL came to town. He worked for the team until 1995.

Many also may remember Porky's son, Donald 'Butch' Palmer, better known as 'The Butcher.' He was a mainstay as a bat boy and showman for the baseball Bisons in their final years at the Rockpile and the early years at the ballpark downtown.

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