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.The Buffalo Bisons (Pronounced 'BI-zons' [bɪzəns] by locals) are a minor league baseball team based in Buffalo, New York which plays in the International League (IL). They are the Triple-A affiliate of the New York Mets. The Bisons play in Coca-Cola Field stadium, located in downtown Buffalo.
The team originally known as the Buffalo Bisons actually dates to a major league club, the Buffalo Bisons of the National League (1879–1885). In 1886, the Bisons moved into minor league baseball as members of the original International League. 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/Peninsula 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.
After six seasons in the Eastern League, the Bisons joined the Triple-A ranks in 1985, joining the American Association when the Wichita Aeros' franchise rights were transferred to Buffalo. When the American Association folded after the 1997 season, Buffalo (along with the Indianapolis Indians and Louisville RiverBats) found refuge in the International League, while their former American Association opponents joined the Pacific Coast League.
In the past five seasons, 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.
After the 2008 season, Bisons parted ways with the Indians, as the Tribe signed an affiliation agreement with the Columbus Clippers beginning in 2009. The Herd then signed a two-year agreement to be the top home for New York Mets prospects. The deal contains an option for a third season.
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.
|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)
|67||70||.489||Steve Demeter||Lost in Semi-Finals, 0–2 (Millers)|
|1981||Pirates||Eastern League||North||4th (first half)|
2nd (second half)
|56||81||.409||John Upon||Did not qualify|
|1982||Pirates||Eastern League||North||4th (first half)|
4th (second half)
|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|
|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||Ken Oberkfell|
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)
(former Bisons players or coaches who have been active for at least one MLB game in 2008)
|Player/Manager||Year Inducted||Years with the Bisons|
|Joe Tinker||1946||1930 (Coach)|
|Gabby Hartnett||1955||1946 (Manager)|
|Ray Schalk||1955||1932–1937, 1950 (Manager)|
|John Montgomery Ward||1964||1877|
|Jim Galvin||1965||1878–1885, 1894|
|Bucky Harris||1975||1918–1919, 1944–1945 (Manager)|
|Jim Bunning||1996||1953, 1955|
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.
Buster and Chip wear Bisons jerseys and caps. Buster's number is the last two numbers of the season (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 was another mascot for the team. She was a mime. 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 in the 1997 season.
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.
There is also the "K-man." K-man is a fan with season tickets, who sits in the upper deck, and hangs a green "K" sign everytime a Bisons pitcher records a strikeout. He puts the sign up backwards when the batter is called out looking, just as in baseball scorekeeping.
All Bisons games can be heard on WWKB-AM in Buffalo and many games are televised on Time Warner Cable throughout Western New York. Ben Wagner handles play by play while veteran Duke McGuire is color commentator.