Field of dreams: Buffalo Bisons to sign WWII veteran, 100, to 1-day contract on July 4

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Roy Kinyon turned down the chance to sign with the Buffalo Bisons minor league baseball team 80 years ago so he could enlist in the Navy.

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On the Fourth of July, the 100-year-old World War II veteran will sign a one-day contract with the Triple-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays and throw out the ceremonial first pitch against the Syracuse Mets at Sahlen Stadium in Buffalo, New York, WKBW-TV reported.

Kinyon, who turned 100 on May 31 according to online military records, will take the mound at 6:05 p.m. EDT, the Bisons said in a news release.

“It’s not often a minor league general manager gets to add a true American hero to his club’s roster, but I am thrilled that we’ve come to terms with Roy on this one-day contract so that he can forever be part of the Buffalo Bisons team,” Bisons general manager Anthony Sprague said in a statement.

“We will give him a one-day contract here. Roy will sign it in front of everyone in the stands before the first pitch,” Brad Bisbing, the Bisons’ assistant general manager, told WGRZ-TV. “He will be able to get his jersey with his name and number on the back, and then be able to do the first pitch.”

According to his online yearbook from Barker High School in upstate New York, Kinyon was a three-year letterman for the Raiders and captained both squads.

His high school baseball team won the Niagara Orleans Championship two years in a row, WGRZ reported. Kinyon batted .741 his senior season and led his team to a 6-0 record, WIVB-TV reported. His gaudy statistics attracted baseball scouts.

Rather than sign with the Bisons, Kinyon joined the Navy.

“I said, ‘Oh, I’d like it, but I’m going to join the Navy tomorrow,’ so I left for the Navy,” Kinyon told the television station.

The Appleton native served overseas for four years and was involved in the Battle of Iwo Jima in the Pacific on Feb. 23, 1945.

“Do you ever have chills go up your back? On the fifth day, the flag went up,” Kinyon told WGRZ. “Then the Japanese blew it up. The flag went up a second time, and all the ships around the island blew their horns. That’s when I got the chills.”

Kinyon, an Appleton, N.Y. native, served in the Navy for four years and rose to the rank of Chief, Motorist Machinist, the team said. His vessel, the USS Shoshone, was an amphibious cargo assault ship active in the Pacific, they added.

After World War II, Kinyon spent 35 years working for General Motors’ Harrison Radiator and also coached his three sons in baseball and basketball, WKBW reported.

Iwo Jima gave Kinyon chills for the first time. Monday night’s game will rank near the top of Kinyon’s thrills, too.

“I’d say it’s my second thrill,” Kinyon told WGRZ. “My second thrill.”