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Buffalo Baseball T-shirts support the Joseph M. Overfield Memorial Baseball, Softball, Soccer and Mentoring Program

Jim Overfield, left and Mike Billoni with the cover of The Seasons of Buffalo Baseball image when the book was announced last month at the Johnnie B. Wiley Amateur Sports Pavilion

I recently found myself talking to Del Reid, a co-founder of 26 Shirts and one of the founders of Bills’ Mafia, about the soon to be published book, The Seasons of Buffalo Baseball 1857-2020. We discussed how Editor Jim Overfield and I wanted to create a legacy in honor of his father, the late Joseph M. Overfield, who authored The 100 Seasons of Buffalo Baseball in 1985.  Our book is a revision and update of Joe’s original book.

For his legacy, we are creating the Joseph M. Overfield Memorial Baseball, Softball, Soccer and Mentoring Program on the East Side of Buffalo at the Johnnie B. Wiley Amateur Sports Pavilion, the former War Memorial Stadium. The sports and mentoring program will be run in partnership with Omega Mentoring and the Willie “Hutch” Jones Educational and Sports Program.

Charitable proceeds from the shirts go towards the Joseph M. Overfield Memorial Baseball, Softball, Soccer and Mentoring Program

Del wanted to get involved and the result is a Vintage Buffalo Baseball unisex t-shirt, long sleeve shirt, sweat shirt and hoodie that are on sale until November 1st at www.26shirts.com.

It is so great to see a for-profit company like 26Shirts, whose mission is to help those in need with a sizable donation from each sale, survive and prosper in Buffalo, truly the City of Good Neighbors.

Supporting our community was the premise behind the creation of 26 Shirts in 2013 when Reid teamed up with Dan Gigante, owner of You and Who, to create t-shirts with a message and a cause.  The concept is simple—every two weeks they sell a different limited edition sports tee for two weeks.  For every shirt sold a donation of $8 each is made to a designated family in need or a charitable cause.

To date, 26Shirts has donated more thank $920,000 to charitable causes and as a businessman totally aware of the licensing of sports’ brands, Reid has never mentioned Bills, Sabres, Bisons or other teams in the promotion of his shirts nor does he use their marks.

When the Toronto Blue Jays called Buffalo’s Sahlen Field its summer home, 26Shirts created what turned out to be its most successful shirt to date—Buffalo Baseball with print, color and images that may resemble the Jays but do not infringe on its logo.  The good news, more than $60,000 was split between the Buffalo and Toronto food banks during this pandemic at a time when both agencies need support.

“Western New York, we are known as the city of good neighbors for a reason,” Reid told me recently.  “And I really believe a majority of our sales come not just from the great designs we put on the shirts that we are very proud of, but also more so the desire to help people in need.

“We’re contacted by so many people who need help, and sometimes the resulting waiting list means that a person or family in need are waiting months before we’re able to do a shirt campaign for them. We’ve been steadily gaining more recognition in the WNY area, and we want to make sure that support from the Buffalo community translates into helping even more people, and at a faster rate,” said Reid, who now plans on launching a new 2 week campaign every week!

Written by Michael J. Billoni

Michael J. Billoni

A journalist for nearly 50 years who was an award-winning sports reporter for the Buffalo Courier-Express until it closed in 1982. He was the former vice president/general manager of the Buffalo Bisons and a member of the Buffalo Baseball Hall of Fame. Handled the promotions and publicity for Buffalo’s undefeated heavyweight boxer, “Baby Joe” Mesi. Founder and is managing partner of Billoni Associates. He authored and managed “Robert E. Rich—Memoirs of an Innovator,” the biography of the founder of Rich Products Corp; published 'All In," the memoir of businessman Ronald Zoeller and is currently publishing The Seasons of Buffalo Baseball, the most comprehensive history of professional baseball in the city. It will be released April 17, 2020.

Mike and is wife Debbie love Western New York and always try to help others and encourage positive thoughts

View All Articles by Michael J. Billoni
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