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The Seasons of Buffalo Baseball - 1857-2020

Edited by James H Overfield, 'The Seasons of Buffalo Baseball' is an update and revision of the out-of-print "100 Seasons of Buffalo Baseball" written in 1985 by James' father, noted historian and Buffalo Baseball Hall of Famer, Joe Overfield. This book chronicles the more than 150 years of professional baseball in Buffalo with yearly recaps as well as amazing stories of former games, players and ballpark personalities.

The book will be available in October, 2020. Save 10% when you reserve your copy by October 1!

A portion of book sale proceeds will support the unique Joseph M. Overfield Memorial Baseball, Softball and Mentoring Program, a collaboration with Omega Mentoring and the Willie "Hutch" Jones Education and Sports Program at the Johnnie B. Wiley Amateur Athletic Sports Pavilion.!

Photos Courtesy of John Boutet Collection

Reflections on The Seasons of Buffalo Baseball

by James H. Overfield

My dad, Joe Overfield, who in his spare time became a nationally recognized authority on Buffalo's rich baseball history, wrote many dozens of articles and reviews, but his masterpiece, the publication of which he was most proud, was The 100 Seasons of Buffalo Baseball. Published in 1985, this 300-page book included capsule summaries of each and every Bisons season from 1877 to 1984, profiles of several all-time great Buffalo players, and a number of short pieces on Buffalo's place in baseball history. It concluded with statistical summaries (games played, batting averages, home runs, won-lost records for pitchers) for every player who wore the Buffalo uniform. It was the product of endless hours of gathering information from old baseball guides and newspapers. It was published locally and sold well.

But like every history book, it began to be out of date the moment it appeared. Until he passed away in 2000, he was frequently asked if he planned to bring out an updated, new edition. Although he continued his research and writing, he never returned to the project. After he died, I began receiving calls and emails from folks asking if I had any copies I wished to sell. The best I could do was direct them to Amazon or some other book-selling website, warning them, however, that if they found a copy for sale and made the purchase, they likely would be disappointed to find that the book would be in pieces because of its aged and brittle binding.

I also had contacts from several individuals who were interested in preparing a new edition and wanted to make sure it was ok with me. I encouraged them to take up the project, but in the end nothing happened. After I retired from a career of teaching history at the University of Vermont in 2007, a few relatives, one cousin in particular, began asking, "Why don't you take on the project?" Until two years ago, my answer was no.

In the fall of 2016, however, I discovered a box, in the corner of my basement, that contained copies of The Bisongram, a Bisons publication that appeared four times a year from the late 1980s to the early 1990s. My dad was a regular contributor to The Bisongram, with a series of articles-"BisonsTales"-- on different aspects of Buffalo-area baseball history. They incorporated material from research he carried out after 1985 and gave him an opportunity to write about personalities and events that were part of Buffalo's remarkable baseball renaissance in the late '80s and '90s.

I was impressed by the breadth and quality of his Bisongram articles but was disappointed to discover that copies of the publication were rare, bordering on extinction. None of the local libraries had copies. The ball club found a few, and the Baseball Hall of Fame had an incomplete set. So my thought was to collect and edit an anthology of The Bisongram pieces as a tribute to my dad and as a way to preserve and showcase his work.

When Paul Langendorfer, the author of an excellent book, Baseball in Buffalo (2014) got word that I was working on such a project, he asked, why not try something more ambitious, an update of The 100 Seasons of Buffalo Baseball. Although skeptical at first, I decided to take on the challenge, and the result will be a book, Seasons of Buffalo Baseball 1857-2020.

Many people have helped with the project: John Boutet, the Bisons curator of the Bisons' Hall of Fame Room and whose collection of Buffalo-related sports memorabilia is remarkable. John also wrote the foreward in The Seasons of Buffalo Baseball, 1857-2020. Paul Langendorfer, the author of Baseball in Buffalo; Brian Frank, who maintains the high quality website The Herd Chronicles; the staff of the Buffalo History Museum; Mike Buczkowski, president of Rich Baseball Operations and Brad Bisbing, the club's assistant general manager. Last, but not least, Mike Billoni, the club's former Vice President/General Manager and a member of its Buffalo Baseball Hall of Fame. He has devoted many, many hours to the project.

Frank, Langendorfer, and Billoni have all written stories for the book, as have Sal Maiorana of the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle; Mike Harrington, the premier baseball writer for the Buffalo News; Budd Bailey, former Buffalo News sportswriter; and former WGRZ Channel 2 sports reporter, Jonah Javad.

The Seasons of Buffalo Baseball 1857-2020 will be much different from my father's orginal book, which was published in 1985. The book will be 8X10 inches and over 400 pages with more than 150 black and white and color photographs, cartoons, and images throughout. Our book designer, Daniel J. Middleton, creative director of Scribe Freelance Book Design (scribefreelance.com), has done an excellent job.

My dad, a member of the Greater Buffalo and Buffalo Baseball Hall of Fames, truly loved baseball. He enjoyed going to Bison games downtown in what is now Sahlen Field and his last eighteen years were filled with pride over the new ballpark and the success of the team. He so much enjoyed being part of the big crowds and having a chance to discuss baseball with Cy Williams and his other baseball friends. We truly believe dad will be proud of the sequel of his book, as we continue to chronicle the amazing history of baseball in the Queen City of the Great Lakes.

Available October 2020

James H. Overfield
Editor

Michael J. Billoni
Project Manager, Assistant Editor

Brian Frank
Assistant Editor

Contributors

John Boutet
Mike Harrington
Paul Langendorfer
Budd Bailey
Sal Maiorana
Jonah Javad
 

A revision of a Buffalo classic