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Talking Baseball: “Breaking Baseball’s Color Barrier”

On Monday, May 24  at 7pm, Michael J. Billoni and James Overfield, respective publisher and editor of The Seasons of Buffalo Baseball 1857-2020 (SOBB), will present a ground-breaking, virtual event inspired by the December, 2020 Major League Baseball decision to officially recognize the Negro Leagues as major league teams — 100 years after their creation. Talking Baseball: “Breaking Baseball’s Color Barrier,” will be a free virtual event broadcast from Dave & Adams Card World and according to Billoni, will tackle a topic not often considered in public discussion.

“When Major League Baseball announced it would officially recognize the accomplishments of Negro League Teams and players, the significance of that moment in the history of baseball and of our nation could not be denied,” Billoni stated. “Finally, after a century, all seven Negro Leagues of baseball’s pre-integration era (1920-1948) will have their statistics and records added to Major League Baseball’s history and record books. What makes this even more compelling for Western New Yorkers is that many of those Negro League players are in some way connected to Buffalo Bisons baseball. That’s why Jim and I decided to focus our second SOBB Talking Baseball virtual event on the teams and players who made history in the Negro Leagues and those who are ensuring that those stories will be told.”

The SOBB event is free and open to the public, with registration required via this link. Once a registration form is submitted, a ZOOM link will be provided via return email.  The evening will be co-hosted by Billoni and John Murphy, Buffalo Bills Play-by-Play Announcer and Buffalo Broadcaster Association’s Hall of Fame Member. 

Hank Aaron, who signed his first professional baseball contract in Buffalo, is seated in the Bison dugout in 1985 during an Old-Timers game here

Their guest line up leads off with an all-star—Bob Kendrick, President of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum (NLBM), located in Kansas City, Mo. Hendrick will be joined by Jim Overfield, editor, Seasons of Buffalo Baseball 1857-2020; Brian Frank, Assistant Editor; Howard Henry Jr., Author/Founder, Friends of Buffalo Baseball History, Morris Madden, former Buffalo Bison Pitcher (1988-89) and unofficial “official” Buffalo Bison National Anthem Singer, Dorn Taylor, former Buffalo Bison Pitcher (1988-1990); Willie “Hutch” Jones, President, Willie “Hutch” Jones Educational/Sports Program and Cedric Holloway, Director, Omega Mentoring Program.

During the broadcast, drawings will be held for giveaways of a $25 Dave & Adams Cards gift card and an autographed copy of The Seasons of Buffalo Baseball 1857-2020 to two lucky attendees. For more information contact Mike Billoni at

See Facebook event.

The Seasons of Buffalo Baseball 1857-2020 is available at the following retail locations: Dave & Adam’s Card World 8075 Sheridan Dr., Williamsville, NY 14221. 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. Thin Ice, 719 Elmwood Ave. Buffalo. Niagara Frontier Publications 1859 Whitehaven Road, Grand Island, is also selling the book with $5.00 from each sale going towards the Joseph M. Overfield Memorial Mentoring Program. The book can be ordered online at Amazon through the Buffalo Bisons and through the Buffalo News Online Store. 

Lead image: A young Henry “Hank” Aaron playing with the Indianapolis Clowns of the Negro League in Buffalo signed his first contract here in 1952

Photos courtesy of the Michael J. Billoni Collection

Written by Buffalo Rising

Buffalo Rising

Sometimes the authors at Buffalo Rising work on collaborative efforts in order to cover various events and stories. These posts can not be attributed to one single author, as it is a combined effort. Often times a formation of a post gets started by one writer and passed along to one or more writers before completion. At times there are author attributions at the end of one of these posts. Other times, “Buffalo Rising” is simply offered up as the creator of the article. In either case, the writing is original to Buffalo Rising.

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