It's not often that you come across a Bills fan that can say they've been to 60 straight home openers. It's even more unlikely to find a Bills fan whose son has been to 50 consecutive openers with him. However, that's certainly the case for Bills original Season Ticket Member Peter Zaleski and his son Dave.
For anyone who knows Zaleski, the word "dedicated" doesn't even begin to describe his Bills fandom. Before his Bills tradition passed down to Dave, Zaleski had long been attending games. In fact, the Buffalo native is nothing short of a Bills encyclopedia book. Able to recall stats, facts and even starting lineups from the team in its infancy, Zaleski's passion for all things Bills dates back over 60 years.
When talking with him, he admitted "I have a very unusual memory, which you'll find out in a minute."
Impressive to say the least, Zaleski prides himself on his Bills knowledge.
"You can ask me a few things and I'd bet I'd surprise you," he said. "I can literally go back to the old Buffalo Bills – in the All-America [Football] Conference. I was 10 years old. I lived in the Kensington-Bailey section and the Bills practiced at UB. I'd go down there and watch them practice. I have George Ratterman's autograph…I have Rex Bumgardner's [autograph]. Those guys played for the Bills – [the] old Bills."
Having witnessed so much of Bills franchise history in person, it's no surprise that Zaleski fondly remembers so much, including his first-ever preseason game back in 1960 against the Patriots. It was July 30 and the 21-year-old recent Canisius College grad was the proud owner of four season tickets, which he purchased for $3 each. Thrilled by the game experience, Zaleski never looked back.
By 1970, he had another guest to bring along to the games – his five-year-old son, Dave. Even though he's made countless memories and enjoyed watching games such as the 1964 AFL Championship, it's the quality time with Dave that Zaleski cherishes most.
"Over these last few years especially, it's become just a wonderful family experience," said Zaleski of attending Bills games. "We have three generations coming on a regular basis. I have two grandsons and they're both going to join me opening day and my son Dave obviously. He's been going for 50 years – he's only 55."
For Dave, who has inherited his dad's tickets, the experience has meant just as much.
"This will be my 50th consecutive opener [and] I've been to every [single] one with my dad. So, [it's] kind of cool," he said prior to the game.
"It's amazing," he elaborated. "Everyone's busy in life and we work a lot. Even though we live 20 minutes away from one another, we don't see each other as often as you might think, but we can always count on the Bills games to just catch up. [It's] five hours together where we can just talk and reminisce. We always, it's a tradition, whenever the Bills win, I call my dad with what we call a 'victory call' and my son does that to me too. When he was away at college, he'd call me with a victory call."
With the Bills 60th season and the NFL's historic 100th in full swing, there's no better time to celebrate fandom as strong as Peter's, Dave's and that of their entire big Bills family.
The Buffalo Bills would like to thank Peter for his many years of being a loyal Bills Season Ticket Member and our Season Ticket Member of the Game. In addition to Peter being selected as a Season Ticket Member of the Game, he received a club seat upgrade to the Bengals vs. Bills matchup, an autographed item and select Bills merchandise.
If you would like to submit a nomination for a Bills Season Ticket Member of the Game, please fill out the form located here.
Photos of Bills fans smiling during Buffalo's home opener against the Bengals at New Era Field. Say Cheese is presented by Yancey's Fancy.