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Buffalo Bisons

From BR Bullpen

Note: This page links to the minor league team from 1886-present. For the former National League team from 1879-1885, click here. For the team in the Players League in 1890, click here. For the former Federal League team from 1914, click here


Team History[edit]

Buster T. Bison

The Buffalo Bisons of the Triple-A International League and briefly in Triple-A East, were more affected by the COVID-19 pandemic than any other club that made it through MLB's 2021 Minor League Reorganization. The Toronto Blue Jays farmhands play their home games at Sahlen Field in Buffalo, NY - except when the pandemic upended things.

Like all affiliated clubs, they didn't play at all in 2020 - although Sahlen not only didn't sit empty but also got a renovation, because border restrictions made it impossible for the parent Blue Jays to play in Canada. However, no fans were allowed into any MLB games during the 2020 regular season.

2009-2012 logo

When the situation hadn't improved enough for the Blue Jays to start their 2021 home schedule in Canada, they played their April and May home games at their spring training home in Dunedin, FL. That term was decided in increments, and the Jays never wanted to play there into the summer - which in Florida means oppressive heat and continual threat of rain. For the next part of the campaign, they again settled on Sahlen. Forced to find another home, the Bisons moved to Trenton, NJ - playing when at "home" as the "Trenton Thunder". That gave Trenton - which had just lost its Double-A team in the reorganization - a last hurrah, and in the top tier: Triple-A. The Thunder, now in the MLB Draft League, were again displaced - playing their home games at Rider University. The Bisons did play as the Bisons on the road, and their statistics are listed under "Buffalo".

The Jays' second tenure at Sahlen required more renovations. The first had a short-time window but no need to address hosting fans; the second allowed more time but needed to accommodate fans - presumably more than usual as time went along and Coronavirus restrictions were relaxed. As a result, after the dust had settled, the bumped-around Bisons had the solace of having the finest ballpark in the minors.

The Jays, hoping to return to Toronto later in the season and given the fluidity of the situation, made only incremental commitments to playing at Sahlen Field. Five days before the last was to expire on July 21st, the Canadian government approved the Jays' request to return to Rogers Centre starting on July 30th. The Bisons, on the road from July 27th through August 8th, had said previously they would need about two weeks to transition back, and after the official announcement about the Jays' return to Toronto, the Bisons explained that they hoped to return to Sahlen Field for their homestand starting on August 10th. The collegiate Trenton Thunder then announced they would play their last 2021 homestand - August 3rd through 8th - at Trenton Thunder Ballpark.

The current Bisons franchise moved from Wichita, KS, during baseball's 1984-1985 off-season, where they played as the Wichita Aeros of the American Association. This returned Buffalo to the ranks of Triple-A teams. (Don't tell 'em the plural of "bison" is "bison" - they know!)

From 1924 through 1960, the Buffalo Bisons played at Offermann Stadium, and in 1961, the club moved to War Memorial Stadium. However, the park was located in a downwardly mobile neighborhood in East Buffalo and became downright dangerous after the riots that occurred in the summer of 1967. The Bisons switched most of their night games to Hyde Park in Niagara Falls, NY, for the following seasons, as attendance dwindled to a trickle. On the verge of bankruptcy, the franchise was awarded in June 1970 to its parent Montreal Expos, who immediately moved it to Winnipeg, MB, to play as the Winnipeg Whips. The Expos' plan to move the Whips into the Pacific Coast League failed, and the franchise eventually moved back east, to Virginia.

1998-2008 Logo

Left without baseball for the next eight full seasons, Buffalo received a new team in 1979 when the Jersey City A's of the Double-A Eastern League folded. The new team was an instant success at the gate, as the area around War Memorial Stadium had begun to recover, leading to the city moving up to the Triple-A American Association in 1985. Since 1988, the Bisons have played their home games in Sahlen Field (known under a variety of names during that period). Since moving to their present home, the team has become one of only two minor league clubs to draw over a million fans in a season. The Bisons have done it six times, while the Louisville Redbirds - who did it first - never repeated the feat.

The Bisons saluted history in a different and unique way in 2022, signing 100-year-old Roy Kinyon to a one-day contract starting and ending on July 4th. The 1942 Bisons recruited Kinyon, a two-sport star, but he instead joined the U.S. Navy and fought in World War II. Eighty years later, the man Bisons General Manager Anthony Sprague calls a "true American hero" appeared in uniform - Bisons, not Navy - and threw out the ceremonial first pitch and then participated in the evening's Independence Day festivities.[1][2]

Year-by-Year Record[edit]

Year Record Finish Manager Playoffs Notes
1878 27-10 1st George Smith
1886 50-45 5th Jack Chapman none
1887 63-40 2nd Jack Chapman none
1888 48-62 6th Jack Chapman none
1889 41-65 7th Jim White / Jack Rowe / Will White none
1890 8-16 (14-29 overall) -- Louis Bacon League folded July 10 Team moved to Grand Rapids June 11
1891 89-35 1st Pat Powers none League Champs
1892 53-60 6th Ecky Stearns / Dan Shannon
1893 61-50 4th Jack Chapman none
1894 64-61 5th Jack Chapman none
1895 63-61 5th Charles Morton
1896 70-53 2nd Jack Rowe Lost League Finals
1897 74-57 3rd Jack Rowe
1898 62-60 4th Jack Rowe none
1899 53-70 7th (t) Billy Nash / Jim Garry / Jim Franklin / Dan Shannon none
1900 61-78 7th Dan Shannon / Jim Franklin / Joe Franklin none
1901 40-73 6th Scoops Carey / Tom Burns / Walt Burnham / Jim Franklin / Joe Franklin
1902 88-45 2nd George Stallings none
1903 79-43 3rd George Stallings none
1904 88-46 1st George Stallings none League Champs
1905 63-74 5th George Stallings none
1906 85-55 1st George Stallings none League Champs
1907 73-59 2nd George Smith/Lew McAllister none
1908 75-65 4th George Smith none
1909 72-79 5th George Smith none
1910 69-81 6th William Smith none
1911 74-75 4th George Stallings none
1912 71-78 5th George Stallings none
1913 78-75 4th Bill Clymer none
1914 89-61 2nd Bill Clymer none
1915 86-50 1st Patsy Donovan none League Champs
1916 82-58 1st Patsy Donovan none League Champs
1917 67-84 6th Patsy Donovan none
1918 53-68 6th George Wiltse none
1919 81-67 3rd George Wiltse none
1920 96-57 3rd George Wiltse none
1921 99-69 3rd George Wiltse none
1922 95-72 3rd George Wiltse none
1923 83-81 5th George Wiltse none
1924 84-83 3rd George Wiltse (53-63) / Bill Webb (31-20) none
1925 78-84 4th Bill Webb none
1926 92-72 4th Bill Clymer none
1927 112-56 1st Bill Clymer none League Champs
1928 92-76 2nd Bill Clymer none
1929 83-84 5th Bill Clymer none
1930 74-91 6th Bill Clymer (31-30) / Jim Cooney (43-61) none
1931 61-105 8th James Cooney none
1932 91-75 3rd Ray Schalk none
1933 83-85 4th Ray Schalk League Champs
1934 76-77 5th Ray Schalk
1935 86-67 3rd Ray Schalk Lost in 1st round
1936 94-60 1st Ray Schalk League Champs
1937 74-79 5th Ray Schalk
1938 79-74 4th Steve O'Neill Lost League Finals
1939 82-72 3rd Steve O'Neill Lost in 1st round
1940 76-83 6th Steve O'Neill
1941 88-65 3rd Al Vincent Lost in 1st round
1942 73-80 7th Al Vincent
1943 66-87 7th Greg Mulleavy
1944 78-76 4th Bucky Harris Lost in 1st round
1945 64-89 6th Bucky Harris
1946 78-75 5th Gabby Hartnett
1947 77-75 4th Paul Richards Lost in 1st round
1948 71-80 6th Paul Richards
1949 90-64 1st Paul Richards Lost League Finals
1950 56-97 8th Frank Skaff (16-32) / Ray Schalk (40-65)
1951 79-75 4th Specs Toporcer (56-49) / Coaker Triplett (23-26) Lost in 1st round
1952 71-83 5th Jack Tighe (11-9) / Schoolboy Rowe (5-7) / Jack Tighe (55-67)
1953 87-65 3rd Jack Tighe Lost in 1st round
1954 71-83 6th Billy Hitchcock
1955 65-89 6th Dan Carnevale
1956 64-87 8th Phil Cavarretta
1957 88-66 2nd Phil Cavarretta League Champs
1958 69-83 7th Phil Cavarretta
1959 89-64 1st Kerby Farrell Lost in 1st round
1960 78-75 4th Kerby Farrell
1961 81-67 3rd Kerby Farrell League Champs
1962 73-80 6th Kerby Farrell
1963 74-77 8th Kerby Farrell
1964 80-69 3rd Whitey Kurowski lost in 1st round
1965 51-96 8th Sheriff Robinson (30-79) / Kerby Farrell (21-17)
1966 72-74 5th Red Davis
1967 63-76 7th Lou Fitzgerald (30-36) / Don Zimmer (33-40)
1968 66-81 7th Wayne Terwilliger
1969 58-78 7th Hector Lopez
1970 9-29 -- Clyde McCullough moved to Winnipeg on June 4
Year Record Finish Manager Playoffs Hitting Coach Pitching Coach Coach Most Valuable Player Most Valuable Pitcher
1979 72-67 4th Steve Demeter none
1980 67-70 5th Steve Demeter Lost in 1st round
1981 56-81 7th Johnny Lipon
1982 55-84 8th Tommy Sandt
1983 74-65 3rd Al Gallagher Lost in 1st round Jack Aker
1984 72-67 5th Jack Aker
1985 66-76 7th John Boles N/A Nardi Contreras Steve Christmas
1986 71-71 5th Jim Marshall N/A Dick Bosman Joe DeSa
1987 66-74 5th Orlando Gomez (13-28) | Steve Swisher (53-46) Mike Bucci Rick Peterson Dave Clark
1988 72-70 6th Rocky Bridges Stan Cliburn Jackie Brown Benny Distefano
1989 80-62 2nd Terry Collins N/A Jackie Brown Steve Henderson
1990 85-62 3rd Terry Collins Lost 1 game playoff for East title N/A Jackie Brown Mark Ryal
1991 81-62 1st Terry Collins Lost League Finals N/A Jackie Brown Rick Reed
1992 87-57 1st Marc Bombard Lost League Finals Doc Edwards Spin Williams Brian Dorsett
1993 71-73 4th Doc Edwards Don Werner Tom Dettore Russ Morman
1994 55-89 8th Doc Edwards Don Werner Tom Dettore Rich Aude
1995 82-62 2nd Brian Graham Lost League Finals Jack Mull Dom Chiti Bill Ripken
1996 84-60 1st Brian Graham Lost in 1st round Boots Day Gary Ruby Nigel Wilson
1997 87-57 1st Brian Graham League Champs Dave Keller Gary Ruby Richie Sexson & Bruce Aven
1998 81-62 1st Jeff Datz League Champs Dave Keller Bud Black Alex Ramirez
1999 72-72 9th Jeff Datz Bill Madlock Ken Rowe Bill Selby
2000 86-59 1st Joel Skinner Lost in 1st round Mario Diaz Ken Rowe David Roberts & Chris Nichting
2001 91-51 1st Eric Wedge Lost in 1st round Jack Mull Carl Willis Anthony Medrano Mike Bacsik
2002 87-57 2nd Eric Wedge Lost League Finals Jack Mull Carl Willis Chris Coste Dave Maurer
2003 73-70 8th Marty Brown Carlos Garcia Terry Clark Greg LaRocca Jason Stanford
2004 83-61 1st Marty Brown League Champs Carlos Garcia Terry Clark/Ken Rowe Jhonny Peralta Kyle Denney
2005 82-62 2nd Marty Brown Lost in 1st round Felix Fermin Ken Rowe Andy Abad & Ryan Garko Steve Watkins
2006 73-68 7th Torey Lovullo Bruce Fields Greg Hibbard Jason Dubois & Ben Francisco Jeremy Sowers
2007 75-67 6th Torey Lovullo Dave Myers Scott Radinsky Ryan Mulhern Aaron Laffey
2008 66-77 10th Torey Lovullo Dave Myers Scott Radinsky Todd Linden John Halama
2009 56-87 14th Ken Oberkfell Luis Natera/Bill Masse Ricky Bones Jesus Feliciano Nelson Figueroa
2010 76-68 6th Ken Oberkfell Jack Voigt Ricky Bones Lucas Duda Pat Misch
2011 61-82 12th Tim Teufel Mike Easler Ricky Bones Valentino Pascucci Chris Schwinden
2012 67-76 10th Wally Backman George Greer Mark Brewer Fred Lewis Matt Harvey
2013 74-70 6th Marty Brown Jon Nunnally Bob Stanley Mauro Gomez Justin Germano
2014 77-66 4th Gary Allenson Richie Hebner Randy St. Claire Kevin Pillar Bobby Korecky
2015 68-76 9th Gary Allenson Richie Hebner Randy St. Claire
2016 66-78 9th Gary Allenson Richie Hebner Bob Stanley
2017 65-76 11th Bobby Meacham Devon White Bob Stanley Aaron Mathews
2018 61-77 14th Bobby Meacham Corey Hart Bob Stanley Devon White
2019 71-69 7th Bobby Meacham Corey Hart Doug Mathis Devon White
2020 Season cancelled
2021 71-46 2nd Casey Candaele 8-1 Corey Hart Jeff Ware Devon White, Jake McGuiggan
2022 76-72 7th (t) Casey Candaele (43-42) / Jeff Ware (33-30) Corey Hart Jeff Ware Brendan Kelly, Devon White, Jake McGuiggan
2023 76-72 8th Casey Candaele Matt Hague Tim Norton Justin Echevarria, Carson Phillips, Jake McGuiggan
2024 Casey Candaele Ryan Long Drew Hayes Donnie Murphy, Anthony Gomez, Justin Echevarria

Further Reading[edit]

  • Howard W. Henry Jr.: Saving Buffalo Baseball: The 1956 Buffalo Bisons, NFB Publishing, Buffalo, NY, 2022. ISBN 978-1-9536-1022-5
  • James H. Overfield: The Seasons of Buffalo Baseball, 1857-2020, Billoni Associates, Buffalo, NY, 2020. ISBN 978-0-5787-5704-9

External Link[edit]