Today is a big day in Buffalo sports storytelling because it marks the launch of Seasons of Buffalo Baseball 1857-2020. Back in August, Paul Langendorfer wrote about the coming of the book, which is an update and revision of Joe Overfield’s 100 Seasons of Buffalo Baseball covering the yeas 1885 – 1985. From Langendorfer:
The work is not only a chronological look at the year by year history of the teams, but even more so a look into those stories that are uniquely Buffalo. Stories like that of Buffalo being one of the first teams to have a black baseball player in 1887, future Hall of Famer Frank Grant, and of voting AGAINST the 1887 ban of black players from baseball. Buffalo was also the first minor league team to install a permanent lighting system for night games in 1930, to have home and away radio broadcasts of their games in 1931, and to have television broadcasts in 1951. Buffalo also set a record that will most likely never be broken when the Bisons in their new home of then named Pilot Field drew over a million fans for those six consecutive seasons between 1988 – 1993.
The book also continues the story of what may be the most unusual and odd year in professional sports in 2020. For the first time since 1979 there has not been Bison baseball downtown. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Toronto Blue Jays have made Sahlen Field their home away from home for this year, bringing Major League Baseball back to the city for the first time in 105 years.
As part of the official unveiling of the book, a virtual launch is taking place today (Tuesday, December 8) starting at 7 pm ET. Buffalo and baseball fans are invited to register (for free) at SeasonsBuffaloBaseballLaunch.
This highly anticipated virtual launch will be chock full of world renowned and revered sports broadcasters and authorities, including Bob Costas, an eight-time National Sportscaster of the Year and the recipient of 28 Emmy awards.
“Baseball in Buffalo has a rich history and it is well documented in The Seasons of Buffalo Baseball,” Costas said from his California home studio for the Major League Baseball Network. “I look forward to talking about some of that history with Pete Weber, Greg Brown and launch host, Mike Billoni, during Tuesday’s launch event.”
Bob Costas kicks off book launch with half hour opener – the presentation is 90 minutes, starting at 7pm.
For those that might not be familiar with Pete Weber, he’s considered one of the most respected voices in sports, who started with the Bisons, and is now the voice of the NHL Nashville Predators. As for Greg Brown he’s Weber’s former broadcast partner in Buffalo and is now the voice of the Pittsburgh Pirates. That’s a heavy hitting crew, who will of course pay tribute to the legacy of Joe Overfield and the history of Buffalo baseball.
“In 1985 when my father wrote The 100 Seasons of Buffalo Bisons Baseball, it encouraged widespread interest in the team’s history,” stated James Overfield, who is Joe’s son, and who edited the new release. “His plan had always been to write an update, but sadly he passed in 2000 before accomplishing that objective. After going through his boxes of notes and memorabilia on the subject, I decided to take on my father’s book editing and writing challenge. The release of this book is truly the culmination of my father’s dream and my tribute to him and his passion for Buffalo baseball.”
The hardcover baseball book, three years in the making, contains more than 150 images, rare illustrations and cartoons, and 400 pages of baseball facts and follies, all highlighting a 163-year love affair between the City of Buffalo and the grand old game.
“This update and revision of Joe Overfield’s original book means a lot to me because I worked closely with Joe on getting it to print,” noted publisher Mike Billoni, who is also a member of the Buffalo Baseball Hall of Fame. “I look forward to keeping Joe’s legacy alive through a portion of our book sale proceeds and sponsorships funding through the Joseph M. Overfield Memorial Baseball, Softball, Soccer and Mentoring Program. It’s a collaboration with Omega Mentoring and the Willie ‘Hutch’ Jones Education and Sports Program that will operate out of the Johnnie B. Wiley Amateur Athletic Sports Pavilion, formerly War Memorial Stadium, which is where Joe threw out a first pitch to launch his book during the 1985 Bisons season.”
The Seasons of Buffalo Baseball 1857-2020 Virtual Launch will take place Tuesday, December 8th beginning at 7 pm ET. It is a free-to-the-public event with registration required via this link: SeasonsBuffaloBaseballLaunch.
Special guests appearances at the launch will be made by former Buffalo Bisons slugger, Rick Lancellotti, the 1979 Eastern League MVP who led the league with 41 home runs and 107 runs batted-in, former Bisons pitcher Morris Madden, who today runs The Carolinas Metro Reds, a Charlotte, NC-based youth baseball program that uses baseball as a vehicle for academic and life skills development, and recent Buffalo Baseball Hall of Fame inductee catcher, Brian Dorsett, one of the few Bisons to have played at both War Memorial Stadium and the team’s downtown ballpark. James Overfield, Seasons of Buffalo Baseball 1857-2020 editor, Brian Frank, assistant book editor and founder of HerdChronicles.com, Michael J. Billoni, book publisher and former Vice President/General Manager of the Bisons, Marta Hiczewski, former Bisons Assistant Manager and Rawlings Woman Executive of the Year, and Brad Bisbing, Buffalo Bisons Assistant General Manager, will also be on hand to join in the conversation. Overfield notes the launch as the culmination of his father, Joe’s, baseball dream.
The Seasons of Buffalo Baseball 1857-2020 is available at the following retail locations:
Made in America Stores 1000 West Maple Ct., Elma, 6041 Transit Road, Depew, 3701 McKinley Mall, Hamburg.The BFLO Stores, 130 Main St (in the Explore & More Ralph C. Wilson Children’s Museum lobby), Eastern Hills, McKinley, Galleria and Boulevard Malls. The Buffalo History Museum, One Museum Ct., Buffalo. The Bookworm & BW Gifts, 34 Elm St., East Aurora. Bases Loaded Sports Collectables, 794 French Road, Cheektowaga. Riverside Men’s Shop and S&E Jewelers, 6470 Transit Road, Depew. Olde Editions Bookshop & Gallery, 954 Oliver St., North Tonawanda. Dog Ears Bookstore & Café, 688 Abbott Road, Buffalo. Talking Leaves Book Store, 951 Elmwood Ave. Buffalo, The Buffalo Holistic Center, 39 Delaware Road, Kenmore. Native Pride Travel Plaza Convenience Store, 11359 Southwestern Blvd, Irving. Thin Ice, 719 Elmwood Ave, Buffalo and Niagara Frontier Publications, 1859 Whitehaven Road, Grand Island. The book can be ordered online through the Buffalo Bisons at BisonsBuySeasonsofBuffaloBaseball.