Buffalo Bisons

Sahlen Field Toronto Blue Jays International League
Infinite Construction - STEAM
Buffalo Bisons
Founded in 1979
Buffalo, New York
Team logo
Minor league affiliations
ClassTriple-A (1985–present)
Previous classesDouble-A (1979–1984)
LeagueInternational League (1998–present)
Previous leagues
Major league affiliations
TeamToronto Blue Jays (2013–present)
Previous teams
Minor league titles
League titles (3)
  • 1997
  • 1998
  • 2004
Division titles (9)
  • 1991
  • 1992
  • 1996
  • 1997
  • 1998
  • 2000
  • 2001
  • 2004
  • 2005
Wild card berths (1)
  • 2002
Team data
NicknameBuffalo Bisons (1979–present)
ColorsScarlet red, reflex blue, white[1]
MascotBuster T. Bison (1983–present)
Sahlen Field (1988–present)
Previous parks
Robert E. Rich Jr.
ManagerKen Huckaby
General ManagerAnthony Sprague[2]

The Buffalo Bisons are a Minor League Baseball team of the International League (IL) and the Triple-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays. They are located in Buffalo, New York, and play their home games at Sahlen Field, the highest-capacity Triple-A ballpark in the United States.

The current franchise was founded in 1979 and assumed the history of previous franchises that also used the Buffalo Bisons name, most notably the 1886–1970 Buffalo Bisons minor league franchise, and the 1879–1885 Buffalo Bisons major league franchise.

Forbes valued the Buffalo Bisons at US$34 million in 2016, making it the 15th-most valuable Minor League Baseball franchise.[3]


Sahlen Field, home of the Bisons since 1988

In 1979, by which point the Braves had left town, the Double-A Eastern League's Jersey City A's were forced to leave their city due to the decrepitude of that city's Roosevelt Stadium and opted to move to Waterbury, Connecticut, a city that already had an Eastern League team. With Mayor Jimmy Griffin, Canisius College baseball coach Don Colpoys, broadcaster Stan Barron[4] and WNY umpire Peter Calieri leading the effort, the league awarded the extra franchise to Buffalo, and the Bisons (taking on the previous team's name and history) returned to the field. Robert E. Rich Jr. purchased the team in 1983.

After six seasons in the Eastern League, the Bisons rejoined the Triple-A ranks in 1985, joining the American Association when the Wichita Aeros' franchise rights were transferred to Buffalo. The team moved to the newly built Pilot Field (now Sahlen Field) in 1988. When, as part of a reorganization of Triple-A baseball, the American Association folded after the 1997 season, Buffalo joined the International League.

Since their return to Triple-A baseball in 1985, the Bisons have qualified for the playoffs several times. In 2004, although the Bisons were 10 games behind the first-place team in June, the Bisons won their division. Buffalo won its first-round playoff, against the Durham Bulls, and advanced to the Governors' Cup Finals, in which they had home field advantage over the Richmond Braves. The remnants of Hurricane Ivan caused major flooding problems in Richmond and the entire series was played in Buffalo. The Bisons defeated the Braves in four games and won the Governors' Cup for the second time since 1998. In 2005, Buffalo won the North Division and played the Indianapolis Indians in the first round, winning the first two games in Indianapolis, but losing all three remaining games. With many of its players shuffled to the Cleveland Indians throughout the final months of the season, the Bisons failed to qualify for the playoffs in 2006. In 2007, Buffalo again failed to clinch a playoff spot, marking the first time since Buffalo was parented with the Pittsburgh Pirates that the Bisons missed the playoffs in back-to-back seasons. The team has not reached the playoffs since then.

After the 2008 season, Buffalo parted ways with Cleveland, as the Indians signed an affiliation agreement with the Columbus Clippers beginning in 2009. The Bisons then signed a two-year agreement to be the top home for New York Mets prospects.[5]

On December 16, 2008, the Mets officially announced that Ken Oberkfell would be the Bisons new manager for 2009. At the same press conference, the Bisons also unveiled their new logo. The logo paid homage to baseball's history in the city of Buffalo with the city's skyline in the background. The logo, along with the new colors of blue and orange, closely resemble that of the team's new parent club, the Mets.[6]

In the 2009–2010 off-season, the Bisons were chosen to host the 2012 Triple-A All-Star Game to celebrate 25 years at Coca-Cola Field. The game was played on Wednesday, July 11, 2012.

In late July 2010, the Bisons and Mets agreed on a two-year extension that carried their agreement through the 2012 season.[7]

Wally Backman, manager of the Bisons in 2012

The 2010–2011 off-season saw changes to the Bisons coaching staff. Ken Oberkfell was replaced by Tim Teufel, who was a member of the 1986 Mets team. Teufel was introduced on Friday January 21, 2011, as the 16th manager in the Bisons' modern era.[8]

The 2011–2012 off-season once again saw coaching changes. Tim Teufel was replaced by Wally Backman.[9] He was introduced on November 17, 2011.

The Bisons' agreement with the Mets ended after the 2012 season due to Bisons' management being dissatisfied with their drop in attendance and poor performance during the Mets era. The Bisons enjoyed only one winning season out of the four years that they were affiliated with the Mets.[10] Consequently, the Bisons signed a player development contract with the Toronto Blue Jays on September 18, 2012.[11][12] The Blue Jays are geographically the closest MLB team to Buffalo and such a partnership would build on other international fan base efforts in the region, such as the now-defunct Bills Toronto Series in football.

As part of the rebuilding efforts, the Bisons announced a new uniform (a throwback uniform using a modernized variant of their 1980s logo and colors) and the return of former Bisons manager Marty Brown in November 2012.

On April 18, 2013 the Bisons scored 27 runs on 29 hits against the Syracuse Chiefs, setting records for the most runs and hits in an International League game since 1973.[13][14]

In 2016, the Bisons and Blue Jays agreed to again extend their player development contract, extending their relationship through the 2018 season.[15] On May 4, 2018, the Bisons and Blue Jays agreed to another two-year extension of their player development contract, extending their partnership through the 2020 season.[16]

The start of the 2020 season was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic before ultimately being cancelled on June 30.[17][18] Due to border restrictions stemming from the pandemic, the Blue Jays will play their 2020 season at Sahlen Field.[19]

Season by season records

Year Aff. League Div. Finish W L W% Manager Playoffs
1979 Pirates Eastern League 4th 72 67 .518 Steve Demeter League didn't hold playoffs
1980 Pirates Eastern League North 1st (first half)
3rd (second half)

5th (overall)
67 70 .489 Steve Demeter Lost in Semi-Finals, 0–2 (Millers)
1981 Pirates Eastern League North 4th (first half)
2nd (second half)

7th (overall)
56 81 .409 Johnny Lipon Did not qualify
1982 Pirates Eastern League North 4th (first half)
4th (second half)

8th (overall)
55 84 .396 Tommy Sandt Did not qualify
1983 Indians Eastern League 3rd 74 65 .532 Al Gallagher Lost in Semi-Finals, 0–2 (Sailors)
1984 Indians Eastern League 5th 72 67 .518 Jack Aker Did not qualify
1985 White Sox American Association East 3rd 66 76 .465 John Boles Did not qualify
1986 White Sox American Association East 2nd 71 71 .500 Jim Marshall Did not qualify
1987 Indians American Association 5th 66 74 .471 Orlando Gómez
Steve Swisher
Did not qualify
1988 Pirates American Association East 3rd 72 70 .507 Rocky Bridges Did not qualify
1989 Pirates American Association East 2nd 80 62 .563 Terry Collins Did not qualify
1990 Pirates American Association East 2nd 85 62 .578 Terry Collins Lost one-game playoff, 3–4 (Sounds)
1991 Pirates American Association East 1st 81 62 .566 Terry Collins Lost in Championship, 2–3 (Zephyrs)
1992 Pirates American Association East 1st 87 57 .604 Marc Bombard Lost in Championship, 0–4 (89ers)
1993 Pirates American Association East 2nd 71 73 .493 Doc Edwards Did not qualify
1994 Pirates American Association 8th 55 89 .382 Doc Edwards Did not qualify
1995 Indians American Association 2nd 86 62 .569 Brian Graham Won Semi-Finals, 3–1 (Royals)
Lost in Championship, 2–3 (Redbirds)
1996 Indians American Association East 1st 84 60 .583 Brian Graham Lost in Semi-Finals, 2–3 (Indians)
1997 Indians American Association East 1st 87 57 .604 Brian Graham Won Semi-Finals, 3–2 (Indians)
Won Championship, 3–0 (Cubs)
1998 Indians International League North 1st 81 62 .566 Jeff Datz Won Semi-Finals, 3–0 (SkyChiefs)
Won Championship, 3–2 (Bulls)
Lost World Series, 1–3 (Zephyrs)
1999 Indians International League North 4th 72 72 .500 Jeff Datz Did not qualify
2000 Indians International League North 1st 86 59 .593 Joel Skinner Won one-game playoff, 7–1 (Red Barons)
Lost in Semi-Finals, 1–3 (Red Barons)
2001 Indians International League North 1st 91 51 .641 Eric Wedge Lost in Semi-Finals, 2–3 (Red Barons)
2002 Indians International League North 2nd 84 54 .609 Eric Wedge Won Semi-Finals, 3–0 (Red Barons)
Lost in Championship, 0–3 (Bulls)
2003 Indians International League North 3rd 73 70 .510 Marty Brown Did not qualify
2004 Indians International League North 1st 83 61 .576 Marty Brown Won Semi-Finals, 3–2 (Bulls)
Won Championship, 3–1 (Braves)
2005 Indians International League North 1st 82 62 .569 Marty Brown Lost in Semi-Finals, 2–3 (Indians)
2006 Indians International League North 3rd 73 68 .518 Torey Lovullo Did not qualify
2007 Indians International League North 3rd 75 67 .569 Torey Lovullo Did not qualify
2008 Indians International League North 5th 66 77 .462 Torey Lovullo Did not qualify
2009 Mets International League North 6th 56 87 .392 Ken Oberkfell Did not qualify
2010 Mets International League North 3rd 76 68 .528 Ken Oberkfell Did not qualify
2011 Mets International League North 5th 61 82 .427 Tim Teufel Did not qualify
2012 Mets International League North 6th 67 76 .469 Wally Backman Did not qualify
2013 Blue Jays International League North 3rd 74 70 .514 Marty Brown Did not qualify
2014 Blue Jays International League North 3rd 77 66 .538 Gary Allenson Did not qualify
2015 Blue Jays International League North 3rd 68 76 .472 Gary Allenson Did not qualify
2016 Blue Jays International League North 5th 66 78 .458 Gary Allenson Did not qualify
2017 Blue Jays International League North 5th 65 76 .461 Bobby Meacham Did not qualify
2018 Blue Jays International League North 6th 61 77 .442 Bobby Meacham Did not qualify
2019 Blue Jays International League North 3rd 71 69 .507 Bobby Meacham Did not qualify
2020 Blue Jays International League North N/A Ken Huckaby Season cancelled due to COVID-19 pandemic


Notable alumni

Players named to the Bisons' "All 25 Seasons Team" are indicated by a double dagger (double-dagger)

Buffalo Baseball Hall of Fame members

National Baseball Hall of Fame members

Player/Manager[21] Year Inducted Years with the Bisons
Jim Thome 2018 1998

Retired numbers


Donald Palmer was an acrobatic batboy who performed for the Buffalo Bisons as "The Butcher" from 1979 to 1988.[22]

Earl Howze, Jr. was a beer vendor who performed for the Buffalo Bisons as "The Earl of Bud" from 1979 to 1997. He was known for dancing to the song "Tequila" atop the venue's dugouts, with a routine similar to the one made famous by Paul Reubens in the 1985 film Pee-wee's Big Adventure.[23] The Buffalo Bisons honored him at an August 2012 game, with every fan in attendance receiving a bobblehead of his likeness.[24]

Tom Girot is a beer vendor who has performed for the Buffalo Bisons as "Conehead" since 1979.[25] The Buffalo Bisons honored him at a July 2018 game, with a beer launched in his likeness called Conehead IPA by Resurgence Brewing Company.[26]

Buster T. Bison has been the official mascot of the Buffalo Bisons since 1983.[27] He was later joined by his cousin Chip in 1994, and his future wife Belle in 2006.[28][29]

Tracey B. Wilson was an actress who performed for the Buffalo Bisons as the mime "Loud Mouth" from 1993 to 1999.[30]

Buffalo Bisons games since 2011 have featured the Wing, Cheese & Carrot mascot race between costumed representations of various local foods just prior to the sixth-inning.[31]

Fight songs

"Stampede" has been the official fight song of the Buffalo Bisons since their inaugural season at Sahlen Field in 1988.

Tina Turner's cover of "The Best" from her 1989 album Foreign Affair is played after every Buffalo Bisons home victory at Sahlen Field.[32]

A parody of the Gary Glitter song "Rock and Roll Part 2" featuring lyrics referencing Irv Weinstein was played at Sahlen Field during the seventh-inning stretch of Buffalo Bisons games in the 1990s.[33]

Radio and television

Sahlen Field with its press box overlooking the diamond

The Bisons Baseball Network broadcasts all Buffalo Bisons games. The flagship station is WWKB, a clear-channel station in Buffalo. Select games are broadcast on CJCL, the flagship station of the Toronto Blue Jays. Pat Malacaro serves as the team's play-by-play announcer, having taken over the position full-time in 2018[34] after serving as a fill-in in the years prior; he is teamed with color commentator Duke McGuire, who has been with the Bisons since 1979.[35] Until the 2016 season, a network of Western New York stations including WSPQ in Springville, WGGO in Salamanca and WOEN in Olean carried Bisons games, all of which have since ceased independent operations.

Jim Rosenhaus, a Bisons broadcaster for 11 years, is now a Cleveland Indians broadcaster. His predecessor Pete Weber, who was the Bisons play-by-play broadcaster for 13 years, currently serves in that role for the Nashville Predators. Stan Barron spent many years as the Bisons' broadcaster and was a major factor in preventing a proposed relocation in 1956 and returning the team to Buffalo in 1979.

Ben Wagner served as play-by-play announcer from 2007 to 2017. On March 27, 2018, Wagner was hired by the Blue Jays to replace Jerry Howarth as their radio play-by-play announcer.[36][37]

The Bisons broadcast select television games on WNLO, mostly games on Saturday nights.[38]


  1. ^ "Buffalo Bisons unveil new team logo". MiLB.com. MLB Advanced Media, LP. November 20, 2012. Retrieved July 12, 2018.
  2. ^ "Personnel News: High Point, Buffalo". Ballpark Digest. March 10, 2020. Retrieved March 10, 2020.
  3. ^ Klebnikov, Sergei (July 8, 2016). "Minor League Baseball's Most Valuable Teams – 15. Buffalo Bisons". Forbes. Retrieved September 23, 2016.
  4. ^ "Stan Barron – Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame". buffalosportshallfame.com.
  5. ^ "Buffalo Bisons and New York Mets sign player development contract" New York Mets. September 22, 2008. Retrieved on September 28, 2008.
  6. ^ "Bisons Unveil New Primary Logo" Buffalo Bisons. December 16, 2008. Retrieved on December 17, 2008.
  7. ^ [1] Archived July 25, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ "Teufel Named Bisons Manager". January 21, 2011. Retrieved September 4, 2016.
  9. ^ "Klapisch: Backman shows loyalty to Mets". NorthJersey.com. November 6, 2011. Retrieved March 2, 2013.
  10. ^ "Bisons, Jays officially open talks on affiliation – Sports". The Buffalo News. September 16, 2012. Retrieved March 2, 2013.
  11. ^ Buffalo Bisons (September 18, 2012). "Bisons and Blue Jays sign two-year player development contract | Buffalo Bisons News". Milb.com. Retrieved March 2, 2013.
  12. ^ 09/18/2012 1:05 PM EST (September 18, 2012). "Toronto Blue Jays and Buffalo Bisons sign player development contract | bluejays.com: News". Toronto.bluejays.mlb.com. Retrieved March 2, 2013.
  13. ^ Bisbing, Brad (April 18, 2013). "RECORDS fall in 27–9 Bisons win – Unforgettable team performance as Buffalo earns sweep". Buffalo Bisons. Retrieved April 20, 2013.
  14. ^ Parker, John (April 18, 2013). "Negrych cycles in Bisons' record rout". MLB.com. Retrieved April 20, 2013.
  15. ^ "Bisons, Blue Jays extend affiliation agreement through the 2018 season". bisons.com. April 12, 2016. Retrieved September 23, 2016.
  16. ^ "Bisons, Blue Jays announce extension of their partnership through 2020". MiLB.com. May 4, 2018. Retrieved May 4, 2018.
  17. ^ "A Message From Pat O'Conner". Minor League Baseball. March 13, 2020. Retrieved May 5, 2020.
  18. ^ "2020 Minor League Baseball Season Shelved". Minor League Baseball. June 30, 2020. Retrieved July 1, 2020.
  19. ^ "Toronto Blue Jays to play in Buffalo for 2020 season". WHEC. July 24, 2020. Retrieved July 24, 2020.
  20. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "Bisons 'All 25 Seasons' Team". milb.com. February 26, 2012. Retrieved March 30, 2014.
  21. ^ "Buffalo Baseball Hall of Fame." Buffalo Bisons. Retrieved on August 19, 2018.
  22. ^ https://www.milb.com/news/gcs-209407742
  23. ^ https://buffalonews.com/news/whither-the-earl-of-bud-local-sports-icon-left-town-like-a-ghost-in-1997/article_642ae412-9fd7-5d14-b108-5b4fa0cf2c6a.html
  24. ^ https://buffalonews.com/news/earl-of-bud-takes-his-act-to-tennessee/article_9c8c9f8d-4334-5694-a113-8d4c7c52bf40.html
  25. ^ https://www.milb.com/news/gcs-93703890
  26. ^ https://buffalonews.com/sports/baseball/professional/famed-vendor-conehead-gets-his-own-beer-at-buffalo-bisons-games/article_cc02bfdf-dee3-5503-87e3-07241e4614ea.html
  27. ^ http://www.buffalospree.com/Buffalo-Spree/October-2011/So-three-mascots-walk-into-a-photo-shoot-/
  28. ^ https://buffalonews.com/news/best-bets/article_b3087890-ff70-54c3-af1c-5921b5f12634.html
  29. ^ https://www.oursportscentral.com/services/releases/bisons-introduce-new-mascot-belle-the-ballpark-diva/n-3306933
  30. ^ https://buffalonews.com/news/just-asking/article_9ab27c53-0f33-5e6a-8c15-371a554ef7fd.html
  31. ^ https://www.milb.com/buffalo/fans/wccrace
  32. ^ https://buffalonews.com/news/simply-the-best-the-bisons-have-established-a-winning-tradition-since-hooking-up-with-the/article_84def3c7-f095-5c51-901e-22d03443b0f7.html
  33. ^ http://blog.buffalostories.com/tag/irv-weinstein/
  34. ^ Ingersoll, Ali (12 April 2018). "Meet Pat Malacaro: The new voice of the Buffalo Bisons".
  35. ^ "Bisons Broadcasting Information".
  36. ^ "Ben Wagner & Dan Shulman join Sportsnet's Blue Jays radio broadcast team". Sportsnet. March 27, 2018. Retrieved March 27, 2018.
  37. ^ Harrington, Mike (March 27, 2018). "Bisons radio announcer Ben Wagner promoted to Blue Jays' booth; Pat Malacaro named replacement". buffalonews.com. Retrieved March 27, 2018.
  38. ^ "Bisons and Nexstar Broadcasting partner to air 10-game schedule on The CW-23". WNLO. April 22, 2019. Retrieved April 22, 2019.