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Offermann Stadium

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Offermann Stadium
Former namesBison Stadium (1924-1935)
LocationBuffalo, New York
Capacity14,000
Field sizeLeft Field—321 feet (98 m)
Left Center—345 feet (105 m)
Center Field—400 feet (120 m)
Right Center—365 feet (111 m)
Right Field—297 feet (91 m)
Surfacegrass
Construction
Opened1924
Demolished1962
Tenants
Buffalo Bisons (IL) (1924-1960)
Buffalo Bison/Rangers (NFL) (1924-1929)

Offermann Stadium was a stadium located in Buffalo, New York. It was primarily used for baseball and was the home of Buffalo Bisons of the International League. The ballpark had a capacity of 14,000 people and opened in 1924. It was located on the block bounded by East Ferry Street (north, third base), Masten Avenue (east, left field), Woodlawn Avenue (south, right field) and Michigan Avenue (west, first base).

History

The site on the corner of East Ferry and Michigan Avenue had been in use as a baseball venue since 1889. Olympic Park (II) was constructed on the site in that year, replacing Olympic Park (I) as the Bisons' home ballpark.[1][2] In 1907 the club began calling their home "Buffalo Baseball Park", with the name "Olympic Park" slowly fading from use over the years. The wooden stands, which had been transported from its predecessor, served as the Bisons' home stadium through the early part of the 1923 season. Construction of a new steel-and-concrete structure was well under way by the end of the 1923 season, and the finished stadium opened in the spring of 1924. It was initially called Bison Stadium, and was renamed in memory of owner Frank J. Offermann following his death.[3] The name "Buffalo Baseball Park" continued to be used, as a subheading to the ballpark's primary name above the gates, and appeared under that name in Buffalo city directories as late as 1957.

The first night game at Bison Stadium was played on July 3, 1930. According to one source, this was the first high-minor league night game, in a year in which many minor league teams resorted to lights during the heat of summer as a means of boosting attendance as the Great Depression began to take effect (the majors would not begin using lights until 1935).[4]

The ballpark had fairly cozy dimensions, caused in part by buildings to the east and west of the ballpark on the block. It was on a rectangular block, with the diamond tilted somewhat counterclockwise relative to the streets. Consequently, although the right field foul line was shorter than the left, the right field power alley was deeper than the left. Left field was 321 feet, left center 345, center 400, right center 365, right field line 297. Also, it was reportedly only 33 feet to the backstop. This added up to a hitters park, and several sluggers took advantage, especially Luke Easter, who in the mid-1950s led the International League in home runs despite being over 40 years old. Earlier, in May 1938, the much-traveled Bob "Suitcase" Seeds had hit 7 home runs in two days here.

Easter became the first player to hit a home run over the center field scoreboard at Offermann Stadium, doing so twice in 1957 and again in 1958. On June 14 he cleared the board, and newspapers reported the blow as an estimated 500 feet.[Rochester, New York, Democrat and Chronicle, June 15, 1957, p.21] On August 15, he hit the board near the top, and it went through a space between the board and a sign just above it.[Rochester, New York, Democrat and Chronicle, August 16, 1957, p.26]

The ballpark went out with a bang and a whimper in 1960, its final season, as the Bisons made it to the Junior World Series but lost the final game, at home. The next year, they moved about ten blocks straight south on Masten to take up shop at War Memorial Stadium.

Thus the "permanent" version of the ballpark lasted 36 seasons, whereas the "temporary" wooden version had survived for 35. The stadium was eventually demolished and in 1962, Woodlawn Junior High School (eventually renamed Buffalo Traditional School) opened on the site's grounds. In 2008, the site became the new home of the Buffalo Academy for Visual and Performing Arts. In August 2012, a historical plaque was dedicated at the site in remembrance of over 72 years of baseball played on the grounds. Local Buffalo sports historian John Boutet spearheaded the project and raised the funds through the Facebook group Buffalo Sports Museum, the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame and the Buffalo Bisons.

The Buffalo AME Church, on the west edge of the block, was built in 1953 and still stands. It is visible in some aerial photographs of the ballpark.

Preceded by
Olympic Park
Home of the
Buffalo Bisons

1924-1960
Succeeded by
War Memorial Stadium

Sources

  1. ^ Buffalo Bisons History bisons.com accessed 19-APR-2008
  2. ^ When Baseball came to Richmond Avenue richomndavenue.org Archived 2008-08-28 at the Wayback Machine accessed 19-APR-2008
  3. ^ "Montreal Gazette" Feb 4, 1935
  4. ^ Buffalo Courier Express
  • Ballparks of North America, by Michael Benson, McFarland, 1989
  • Lost Ballparks, by Lawrence S. Ritter, Penguin, 1992
This page was last edited on 21 May 2019, at 15:59
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