Buffalo baseball has Hall of Fame legacy
Stars Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette and Nate Pearson are now calling Buffalo home after their team, the Toronto Blue Jays, were compelled by the Canadian government to find a new address for fear of spreading COVID-19 among its populace.
In this pandemic-shortened 60-game season, the Blue Jays’ home games take place at Sahlen Field, the home ballpark of Toronto's Triple-A affiliate since 2013. Buffalo hosted its first game – with no fans in attendance – on Aug. 11, the first time the city hosted a major league game in more than 100 years.
Buffalo’s previous taste of big league ball came more than a century ago, first as a member of the National League from 1879 to 1885, then a single season in 1890 with the Players League, and, lastly, as a part of the Federal League from 1914-15.
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It was during the early days of the National League – a loop that began play in 1876 – that during a four-year period from 1881 to 1884, a team most commonly referred to today as the Buffalo Bisons had on its roster four future members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame: Outfielder/first baseman/third baseman Deacon White (Class of 2013), third baseman/outfielder Jim O’Rourke (Class of 1945), first baseman/outfielder Dan Brouthers (Class of 1945) and pitcher Pud Galvin (Class of 1965).
Amazingly, despite the fact that the Bisons were a star-laden squad and had winning seasons every season from 1881-84 while compiling an overall mark of 206-169, the team never finished above third place in an eight-team NL. But their perceived underachievement can’t be thrust upon the four Hall of Famers, who all put up tremendous numbers during this period.
“Buffalo had good teams during that time with four third-place finishes and the four future Hall of Famers playing for them. And they were a successful franchise until that 1885 season when things fell apart,” Frank said. “But the big thing to me was those four Hall of Famers were all really in their prime at that time. It’s amazing. None were youngsters and none were veterans just hanging on. They were all stars and played like it and are in the Hall of Fame because of it.
“I think with the Blue Jays playing here now, local baseball fans are now realizing there was a National League team that played in Buffalo. But if you asked people a month ago, your average fans wouldn’t have been aware.”
Bill Francis is the senior research and writing specialist at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum