Major League Baseball returns to Buffalo

Blue Jays play in front of empty stadium, walk it off in the bottom of the tenth

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The Spectrum

Major League Baseball returned to Buffalo in a big way Tuesday night.

For the first time in 105 years, the Queen City hosted a big league game, with the Toronto Blue Jays hosting the Miami Marlins at Sahlen Field, home of the Triple A Buffalo Bisons. 

Sahlen Field is a 16,000-seat stadium in downtown Buffalo that typically hosts the Blue Jays’ top minor league affiliate. But with a cancelled MiLB season and the Canadian government prohibiting entry to baseball players, the Jays were forced to scramble for a new ballpark.

The Jays had looked at a number of cities, including Pittsburgh and Baltimore, before deciding to play most of their home games at Sahlen, which is the first retro-classic park in the world, designed and built for a potential MLB expansion franchise.

In 1992, the same company that designed Sahlen Field constructed Camden Yards in Baltimore, which launched a wave of retro-classic ballparks in the major leagues.

Buffalo had been without a major league team since 1915, when the Buffalo Blues participated in the Federal League for two seasons. The Buffalo franchise did not have an official team name during the 1914 season, when they went 80-71-4. The following year, the Blues adapted a team name and finished with a 74-78-1 record.

With games taking place across the state — in addition to Buffalo, both the Mets and Yankees were at home — Tuesday marked the first time in more than a century that MLB games were played in three different New York ballparks.



And the Blue Jays delivered in dramatic fashion.

Coming into the game with a 5-8 record, the Jays battled all night long. Marlins third baseman Brian Anderson hit a home run — the first ever MLB home run at Sahlen — in the second inning, to give the Fish a 1-0 lead. Blue Jays shortstop Bo Bichette, who spent time in Buffalo as a member of the Bisons, responded with a three-run homer of his own in the sixth to give the Jays a 3-1 advantage.

The Jays tacked on another run in the seventh, before the Marlins tied the game on a Francisco Cervelli home run to force extra innings. Then, in the bottom of the tenth inning, Blue Jays infielder Travis Shaw walked it off on a single, much to the delight of an empty stadium and some very excited onlookers.

The Blue Jays played their first home game of the season Tuesday night, after spending their first 14 contests on the road. Sahlen Field needed upgrades — new infield grass, fresh paint, new lighting — before the Jays could play their games in the Queen City.

Alexander Brown is the multimedia editor and can be reached at alexander.brown@ubspectrum.com