Buffalo Bisons

Buffalo Bisons
This article is about the minor league baseball franchise, for other teams named Buffalo Bisons see Buffalo Bisons (disambiguation).
This article covers all modern incarnations but focuses on the Double-A team founded in 1979 and the Triple-A team that moved from Wichita, Kansas in 1984.
Buffalo Bisons
Founded in 1979
Buffalo, New York
Team Logo
Cap Insignia
  • Triple-A (1985–Present)
  • Double-A (1979–1984)
Minor league affiliations
Major league affiliations
  • Buffalo Bisons (1979–Present)
Minor league titles
League titles 1933, 1936, 1957, 1961, 1998, 2004
Division titles 1998, 2001, 2004, 2005
Owner(s)/Operated by: Bob Rich Jr.
Manager: Wally Backman
General Manager: Michael Buczkowski

The Buffalo Bisons are a minor league baseball team based in Buffalo, New York. They currently play in the International League (IL) and are the Triple-A affiliate of the New York Mets. The Bisons play at Coca-Cola Field in downtown Buffalo.

The current incarnation of the Bisons was founded in 1979, when Buffalo ownership interests purchased the Jersey City A's of the Double-A Eastern League and moved the team to the city.


Team history

The history of teams known as the Buffalo Bisons dates to a major league club, the Buffalo Bisons of the National League, who played from 1879 to 1885. In 1886, the Bisons moved into minor league baseball as members of the original International League. (An "outlaw" team also known as the Buffalo Bisons also played in the Players' League, an upstart third major league, in 1890, but that team is not currently considered part of the Bisons history.) This team joined the Western League in 1899, and was within weeks of becoming a major league team when the Western League announced it was changing its name to the American League in 1900. However, by the start of the 1901 season, Buffalo had been bumped from the league in favor of the Boston Americans; the Bisons returned to the minors that year.

This franchise continued in the IL (known as the Eastern League from 1891 to 1911) through June 11, 1970, when it transferred to Winnipeg, Manitoba as the Winnipeg Whips, due to poor attendance and stadium woes. In 1969, Héctor López became the first black manager at the Triple-A level while managing Buffalo Bisons—six years before Frank Robinson became the first black manager in Major League Baseball.[1] After stops in Winnipeg and Hampton, Virginia, the team was suspended after the 1973 season to make way for the Memphis Blues.

A Bisons game at Coca-Cola Field in July 2010

The Bisons name was revived when a Double-A Eastern League franchise moved to Buffalo in 1979. That team assumed the previous Bisons team history. 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. When, as part of a reorganization of Triple-A baseball, the American Association folded after the 1997 season, Buffalo joined the International League.

In their current incarnation, the Bisons have made the playoffs twice. In 2004, the team came back from being 10 games out of first-place in late June to winning their division by a convincing 9½ games. 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 failed once again 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 Mets era

After the 2008 season, Buffalo parted ways with the 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.[2]

On December 16, 2008, the Mets officially announced that Ken Oberkfell will be the Bisons new manager for 2009. At the same press conference, the Bisons also unveiled their new logo. The logo pays homage to baseball's 123 year 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.[3]

In the 2009–2010 off-season, the Bisons were picked to hold the 2012 Triple-A All-Star Game to celebrate 25 years at Coca-Cola Field.

In late July 2010, it was announced that the Bisons and Mets agreed on a two-year extension that will carry their agreement through the 2012 season.[4]

The 2010–2011 off-season saw changes to the Bisons couching staff. Bisons manager Ken Oberkfell was promoted to the Mets as bench coach returning Oberkfell to the big leagues.[5] 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.[6]

The 2011-2012 off-season once again saw coaching changes. Tim Teufel was promoted to 3rd base coach on the Mets. He was replaced by Wally Backman.[7] He was introduced on November 17, 2011.

Year-by-year 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 John Upon 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 Gomez
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


The Bisons have won the Governors' Cup, the championship of the IL, 6 times, including the inaugural Cup, and played in the championship series 10 times.

Since 1998 the Bisons have won the IL North Division four times (1998, 2001, 2004, and 2005). They have also won the Thruway Cup, a regular-season competition between Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse, six times since its inception in 1998.


Buffalo Bisons rosterview · talk · edit
Players Coaches/Other






  •    Vacant


Injury icon 2.svg 7-day disabled list
* On New York Mets 40-man roster
∞ Reserve list
§ Suspended list
‡ Restricted list
# Rehab assignment
Roster updated October 21, 2011
More rosters

Notable alumni

Former Bisons in the majors in 2011

(former Bisons players who have participated in at least one MLB game in 2011)

Buffalo Bisons in the National Baseball Hall of Fame

Player/Manager[8] Year Inducted Years with the Bisons
Connie Mack 1937 1890 (played for the outlaw PL Bisons)
Charles Radbourn 1939 1880
Jimmy Collins 1945 1893–1894
Jim O'Rourke 1945 1881–1884
Dan Brouthers 1945 1881–1885
Joe Tinker 1946 1930 (Coach)
Herb Pennock 1948 1916
Gabby Hartnett 1955 1946 (Manager)
Ray Schalk 1955 1932–1937, 1950 (Manager)
Joe McCarthy 1957 1914–1915
John Montgomery Ward 1964 1877
Pud Galvin 1965 1878–1885, 1894
Lou Boudreau 1970 1939
Bucky Harris 1975 1918–1919, 1944–1945 (Manager)
Johnny Bench 1989 1966–1967
Ferguson Jenkins 1991 1962
Jim Bunning 1996 1953, 1955
Frank Grant 2006 1886–1888


Buster on the field energizing the fans‎

The main mascots of the team have traditionally been Buster T. Bison along with his cousin Chip, but as of 2006, a new mascot named Belle the Ballpark Diva has appeared, along with flamboyant reporter Johnny $tyles. Buster and Belle pursued a love interest, and were married following the August 26, 2007 game against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees.

The Most popular and athletic Mascot in the Buster Bison Mascot history was performed by a local gymnast, Rick McKay. He had a big following with both the kids and the fans alike. He regularly did break dancing to Michael Jackson music between innings. Also, he performed gymnastic stunts throughout each game. He was the last Mascot in the Bison's old War Memorial Stadium, and the first to perform at the then new, Pilot Field. Buster and Chip wear Bisons jerseys and caps. Buster's number was the last two numbers of the season up to 2009,however, as of the 2010 season his number is 83.(in 2007 his number was 07). Chip's number has always been 1/2. The Bisons have had a number of other mascots in the past. MicroChip, who was smaller and presumably "younger" than Buster and Chip, wore a Bisons jersey as well. His number was 1/4. Loudmouth, a mime played by actress Tracey B. Wilson, was another mascot for the team. The other official mascot of the Bisons was Howie the Ump. He wore a costume much like Buster and Chip, but it was a costume of a human umpire, with an umpire's uniform and mask. He was very short lived, existing only during the 1995–1997 seasons, and was played by local improvisational comedian Randy Reese.

Other unofficial Bisons include Conehead, a beer vendor who wears a rubber conehead hat, and The Earl of Bud, another beer vendor, who during the third inning would climb on the dugout and dance. His last appearance was at the 20th Anniversary game for Dunn Tire Park in August 2007. Also a longtime challenged fan named "hamburger" can be seen behind home plate making his opinion known throughout the ballpark.

There is also the Kevin the "K-man." Kevin is a fan with season tickets, who sits in the upper deck, and hangs a green "K" sign every time a Bisons pitcher records a strikeout. He puts the sign up backwards when the batter is called out looking, just as in baseball scorekeeping.

Media/game broadcasts

All Bisons games can be heard on WWKB-AM in Buffalo and many games are televised on Time Warner Cable SportsNet throughout Western New York. Ben Wagner handles play by play while veteran Duke McGuire is color commentator.

In 2010, Justin Sheinis was added to the broadcast team. He will call some play-by-play and color commentary as well as host nearly every pre- and post-game show for the season. He will also put together video package and write feature articles for the Bisons team website, bisons.com. New for 2010, Friday games will air as a Game of the Week package on WGR. These games will be a simulcast of those airing on WWKB.

Also, Buffalo Bisons games are sometimes aired on SportsNet New York, which is co-owned by Time Warner Cable and the New York Mets (as well as Comcast).


External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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