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
- Location: Buffalo, NY
- League: International Association 1878, 1888-1890; International League 1886-1887; Eastern Association 1891; Eastern League 1892-1898; Western League 1899; American League 1900; Eastern League 1902-1911; International League 1912-1970; Eastern League 1979-1984; American Association 1985-1997; International League 1998-2019; Triple-A East 2021; International League 2022-
- Affiliation: Cleveland Indians 1939; Detroit Tigers 1941-1949; Philadelphia A's 1950; Detroit Tigers 1952-1955; Kansas City A's 1957-1958; Philadelphia Phillies 1959-1962; New York Mets 1963-1965; Cincinnati Reds 1966-1967; Washington Senators 1968-1969; Montreal Expos 1970; Pittsburgh Pirates 1979-1982; Cleveland Indians 1983-1984; Chicago White Sox 1985-1986; Cleveland Indians 1987; Pittsburgh Pirates 1988-1994; Cleveland Indians 1995-2008; New York Mets 2009-2012; Toronto Blue Jays 2013-2019, 2021-present
- Ballpark: Olympic Park 1889-1900, 1902-1923; Offermann Stadium 1924-1960; War Memorial Stadium 1961-1987; Sahlen Field 1988-2019, 2021-present; Trenton Thunder Ballpark (Trenton, NJ) 2021 (temporarily, to allow the Toronto Blue Jays to use Sahlen Field, May 4 through July 25)
- Famous Alumni: Richie Sexson, Jay Bell, Moises Alou, Otis Nixon, Hal McRae, Tony Pena, Ron Kittle, Tim Wakefield, Cleon Jones, Johnny Bench, Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
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.
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.
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.
|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|
|1896||70-53||2nd||Jack Rowe||Lost League Finals|
|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|
|1904||88-46||1st||George Stallings||none League Champs|
|1906||85-55||1st||George Stallings||none League Champs|
|1907||73-59||2nd||George Smith/Lew McAllister||none|
|1915||86-50||1st||Patsy Donovan||none League Champs|
|1916||82-58||1st||Patsy Donovan||none League Champs|
|1924||84-83||3rd||George Wiltse (53-63) / Bill Webb (31-20)||none|
|1927||112-56||1st||Bill Clymer||none League Champs|
|1930||74-91||6th||Bill Clymer (31-30) / Jim Cooney (43-61)||none|
|1933||83-85||4th||Ray Schalk||League Champs|
|1935||86-67||3rd||Ray Schalk||Lost in 1st round|
|1936||94-60||1st||Ray Schalk||League Champs|
|1938||79-74||4th||Steve O'Neill||Lost League Finals|
|1939||82-72||3rd||Steve O'Neill||Lost in 1st round|
|1941||88-65||3rd||Al Vincent||Lost in 1st round|
|1944||78-76||4th||Bucky Harris||Lost in 1st round|
|1947||77-75||4th||Paul Richards||Lost in 1st round|
|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|
|1957||88-66||2nd||Phil Cavarretta||League Champs|
|1959||89-64||1st||Kerby Farrell||Lost in 1st round|
|1961||81-67||3rd||Kerby Farrell||League Champs|
|1964||80-69||3rd||Whitey Kurowski||lost in 1st round|
|1965||51-96||8th||Sheriff Robinson (30-79) / Kerby Farrell (21-17)|
|1967||63-76||7th||Lou Fitzgerald (30-36) / Don Zimmer (33-40)|
|1970||9-29||--||Clyde McCullough||moved to Winnipeg on June 4|
- 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
We're Social...for Statheads
Every Sports Reference Social Media Account
Site Last Updated:
Question, Comment, Feedback, or Correction?
Subscribe to our Free Email Newsletter
Subscribe to Stathead Baseball: Get your first month FREE
Your All-Access Ticket to the Baseball Reference Database
Do you have a sports website? Or write about sports? We have tools and resources that can help you use sports data. Find out more.