Frank: How the Buffalo Bisons played a game on Grand Island in 1893

From SABR member Brian Frank at on March 25, 2019:

The story about how the Bisons ended up playing a game on Grand Island is as fascinating as the game itself. It’s a story that includes blue laws, rowdy crowds, a petition, boats across the Niagara River, and a posh Grand Island resort.

Buffalo’s home field in 1893 was Olympic Park, located at Michigan Avenue and East Ferry Street, the future site of Offermann Stadium. But, in an effort to escape the city’s blue laws, which prohibited playing baseball on Sundays, the team played Sunday games a bit further out of town, at City Baseball Park, located at Genesee Street by the Belt Line tracks and Barthel Street. As Joe Overfield wrote in The 100 Seasons of Buffalo Baseball, “Sunday ball was illegal in those days, but the law was not always enforced, except at Olympic Park, which was built near a church.”

A chaotic game at City Baseball Park in late July 1893 helped trigger the events that led to the Herd playing on Grand Island. The day began with a seven inning City League game that lasted about two hours, followed by the Bisons being drubbed by the Albany Senators by a score of 30-20. The game featured 43 singles, 17 doubles, three home runs, and an astounding 26 walks, 13 by each team’s pitcher. As the Bisons game wore on, the estimated 2,500 fans in attendance began to grow unruly.

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Originally published: April 1, 2019. Last Updated: April 1, 2019.