Shuffle Off To Buffalo

Blue Jays home games in June will be played in Buffalo.

With the American-Canadian border shut until at least June 21st because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Toronto Blue Jays baseball games will be shifting to Buffalo, New York on June 1st. Toronto will be hosting a series of contests and some of the games are scheduled after the June 21st date which means Major League Baseball does not think it will be able to hold games in Toronto anytime soon. These games may be the final time Buffalo will host an MLB game. Buffalo had two chances at landing an MLB expansion team. One was in 1968 and the other in the early 1990s. Buffalo was passed over twice. Buffalo did have a National League team between 1879 and 1885. Buffalo had a team in the 1890 Players League and in the Federal League’s two years of existence in 1914 and 1915.

At one time Buffalo was a very wealthy city because of the Erie Canal and shipping. In 1900, the city had the wherewithal to have a successful Major League Baseball team. The Western League was about ready to evolve into the American League and claim major league status. Ban Johnson who ran the enterprise looked at the Buffalo market and decided Buffalo did not fit into his business plan. In 1967, Kansas City A’s owner Charles Finley moved his team to Oakland which prompted Congress to think about reviewing antitrust business exemption given to Major League Baseball in 1922. To counter that, the Lords of Baseball decided to expand by four teams. The National League granted franchises to San Diego and Montreal but there was a stadium issue in Montreal. Buffalo might have been in line to get the franchise if Montreal’s stadium situation could not be worked out. Montreal did get a stadium. Buffalo struck out in a 1991 expansion bid. Buffalo today is too small a market for MLB.

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Storm clouds approach during the fourth inning of a baseball game between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Tampa Bay Rays, Saturday, Aug. 15, 2020, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)