It's not Florida. It's Buffalo in March and Bisons hit the field preparing for Opening Day (2023)

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Mike Harrington

The first March season opener in franchise history comes Friday night in Moosic, Pa., and the home opener is next Tuesday, an April 4 date at Sahlen Field. So there was Buffalo Bisons manager Casey Candaele and his coaches leading their group on a first workout Tuesday through the blustery chill of the early spring.

No one connected to the organization could ever remember a team workout here in March. And we know there's never been a modern-era game in the month. But with Triple-A baseball now a 150-game season and more off days built into the schedule, you've got to start earlier.

After stint in Toronto, Casey Candaele to return to manage Bisons in 2023

A former Bisons utility man, Candaele is 122-89 in two seasons as Herd manager.

There were some pockets of rain Tuesday, enough for the Herd to not take batting practice on the field. But there was throwing and running and some groundballs. It's not spring training in Florida, but it's time to get real, too.

"I've played here before in April and I know it's just a matter of you just try and survive until it gets warm really," said Candaele, about to enter his third year as Buffalo manager. "You go out and just battle through everything. Everybody's in the same boat. If you can get the games in, it's great. (March) is something new that was happening. So we'll go out and we'll deal with it. Everybody's ready. I know that."

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Toronto's spring camp in Dunedin, Fla., was singularly focused on winning a World Series and not just building a competitive club. Candaele said that philosophy filters through to the minor-league levels.

"That's been the talk from the get-go there," Candaele said. "And our role is to go out and compete, perform well and get them people if they need it at any time to achieve their goals. We have some young players to develop but the ultimate is what goes on at the major-league level, and how we can help them with anybody here to make sure they're ready."

Friday's opener against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders is a 6:30 start. Veteran Casey Lawrence, Buffalo's most valuable pitcher last year after going 9-5 with a 2.79 ERA in 26 starts, is the scheduled starter. But his wife just had a baby at the end of camp and his status is uncertain.

The Bisons play three games against the RailRiders, are off Monday and start a six-game series against the Worcester Red Sox on Tuesday at 2:05 p.m.

Niagara connection

Former Niagara University star Wynton Bernard, who made his major-league debut last year for the Colorado Rockies, was back at the ballpark for the first time since 2016 with Toledo and is expected to be one of Buffalo's mainstays in the outfield.

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Mike Harrington: For Niagara coach Rob McCoy, seeing Wynton Bernard's MLB debut was a real treat

The Purple Eagles have two players in the major leagues at the same time for the first time since 1953 and have seen two of their own make their MLB debuts in the same year for the first time since 1923.

Bernard, a San Diego native, played at Niagara from 2009-2012, taking 2010 off after the death of his father to play at a California junior college. He spent 11 years in the minor leagues before his first big-league callup went viral last year due to a FaceTime call when he informed his mother of his promotion from Triple-A Albuquerque. Bernard hit .286 in 12 games for the Rockies and signed a deal with Toronto over the winter.

"That's pretty sweet. It's coming full circle," Bernard said. "Being back in Upstate New York area is pretty special. It's not home but I still consider it home because I was here for a couple years."

Bernard said he talked to several organizations but felt Toronto was an easy choice to make, and his feeling was backed up by what he saw in spring training.

"It was pretty cool, (Jays manager John) Schneider gave us a meeting on day one, he was like, 'It's all about doing the little things.' And you can see top down from rookie ball all the way to the major leagues, guys want to get better, do the (extra) 1%. So you've got everybody just doing little things every single day. And I think that's what makes a difference with the organization."

Bernard remains close with Niagara coach Rob McCoy and said he expects plenty of purple in the seats downtown.

"They tell me that they're gonna come all the time," Bernard said. "So I'm super excited."

It's not Florida. It's Buffalo in March and Bisons hit the field preparing for Opening Day (4)

More roster notes

The Blue Jays announced Tuesday that outfielder Nathan Lukes, the Bisons' most valuable player last year, has won the job in Toronto as the 26th man on the roster and won't start in Triple-A. Outfielder Vinny Capra and utility man Otto Lopez, who was a standout for Team Canada at the World Baseball Classic, have been returned to the Herd.

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Lukes hit .285 with 11 homers, 61 RBIs and 20 stolen bases in 111 games for the Bisons last season, leading the club in games, hits (122), homers and RBIs. The 28-year-old has played 626 minor-league games the last eight years.

"It's great for Lukey. He deserved to make the team," Candaele said. "He had another great spring. I think he was the last guy sent out last year. This year, different circumstances, he made the team and it's really good for him. He's had a great minor-league career and he's always put up good numbers. So it's really good to see that hard work, what he did last year and in spring has paid off. Really cool."

New Triple-A playoff format for '23

Major League Baseball unveiled a new split-season format for the International League and Pacific Coast League on Tuesday, which will culminate in a league championship series and a one-game Triple-A National Championship between the two league winners Sept. 30 at Las Vegas Ballpark.

The first half of the season opens Friday and runs through June 25. After two days off, the second half runs from June 28-Sept. 24.

The first-half winners will host the entire best-of-three LCS in each league from Sept. 26-28. The winners advance to Las Vegas for the title two days later.

Durham was the winner of last year's Triple-A title. A championship has existed in multiple forms over the years and Bisons last played in one in 1998, when they lost to New Orleans in four games in what was a best-of-five Triple-A World Series in Vegas. There was no overall title in 2004, the year of the Bisons' last IL title.



  • Buffalo Bisons
  • Toronto Blue Jays
  • Mlb
  • Milb
  • Casey Candaele
  • Wynton Bernard
  • Triple-a National Championship
  • Nathan Lukes
  • Otto Lopez
  • Las Vegas

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Mike Harrington

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A News staffer since 1987, I'm a Baseball Hall of Fame voter, a 2013 inductee into the Buffalo Baseball HOF and the Buffalo chapter chair of the Professional Hockey Writers Association. And I insist only Chicago & New York can come close to Buffalo pizza.


It's not Florida. It's Buffalo in March and Bisons hit the field preparing for Opening Day? ›

It's not Florida. It's Buffalo in March and Bisons hit the field preparing for Opening Day

Opening Day
Opening Day is the day on which professional baseball leagues begin their regular season. › wiki › Opening_Day
. Buffalo Bisons pitcher Thomas Hatch throws in the outfield during workouts at Sahlen Field on Tuesday, March 28, 2023.

What are the theme nights for bisons 2023? ›

This year's themes include **Guarantee Win Night (May 12), Hawaiian Night (June 2), Women in Sports Night (July 14), Christmas in July (July 28), Obscure Jersey Night (August 18) and more. Bisons homestands will also have a new leadoff hitter all season long.

Where will the Buffalo Bisons play? ›

Located in Buffalo, New York, the team plays their home games at Sahlen Field, the highest-capacity Triple-A ballpark in the United States.

Are the Bisons in the MLB? ›

The NL Bisons are included in the history of the minor-league team of the same name that still plays today; it is thus the only NL team from the 19th century that both still exists and no longer plays in Major League Baseball.

What is the record of the Buffalo Bisons? ›

The Buffalo Bisons of the International League is currently playing the 2023 season with a record of 31 wins and 38 losses, placing them eighth in the league's East Division. Latest statistics update: Click on column headings to sort.

What time of year is the bison rut? ›

The rut lasts each year from June to September, with most of the activity occurring between July and August. Breeding is strongly seasonal and very promiscuous. Bison are not monogamous, but rather polygynous, meaning bulls are will mate with more than one female, but females will only mate with one bull.

What is the tragedy of the bison? ›

The usual explanation of this rapid depletion of the bison – at least among economic historians – was the lack of ownership of them. Because no one owned the bison, the story goes, no one had an incentive to protect them, resulting in a “tragedy of the commons.”

What is the Buffalo Bisons schedule? ›

2023 Schedule/Results
Jun 17, 3:05 PMvs. Syracuse MetsW 10-6
Jun 18, 10:05 AMvs. Syracuse MetsL 4-7
Jun 20, 3:35 PM@ Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRidersScheduled
Jun 21, 3:35 PM@ Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRidersScheduled
79 more rows

What is the average attendance for the Buffalo Bisons game? ›

The Herd drew 575,296 fans to Coca-Cola Field over 70 home dates for an 8,219 per-game average. Both the total and per-game average ranked 8th among 176 minor league clubs.

Will Buffalo get an MLB team? ›

The citizens of Buffalo have waited more than a century for top-tier baseball to return. It took a pandemic for the city to get the chance as the Blue Jays will play home games at Sahlen Field this season.

What is the closest baseball team to Buffalo? ›

The closest that any major league baseball team has come to Buffalo since then is Toronto (70 miles (110 km) away as the crow flies), where the Toronto Blue Jays have played since 1977.

Who is the owner of the Buffalo Bisons? ›

The Sahlen's name is synonymous with high quality service and products and we couldn't be happier to host our brand of family-friendly sports entertainment at Sahlen Field," said Bob Rich Jr., president and owner of the Buffalo Bisons.

How many hours is a baseball game? ›

Note: In the 2022 season, the average duration of an M.L.B. game was 3 hours 6 minutes. Source: M.L.B.

What is the biggest bison killed in the world? ›

The heaviest wild bull for B.b.bison ever recorded weighed 1,270 kg (2,800 lb) while there had been bulls estimated to be 1,400 kg (3,000 lb).

How many real bison are left? ›

Bison are not listed as a threatened or endangered species. Approximately 30,000 bison live in public and private herds in North America; they are managed for conservation goals. Approximately 400,000 bison are raised as livestock however, wild bison are rare.

What percentage of bison are left? ›

Years later, hunting laws and other protective measures allowed the remaining bison to live, thrive and multiply. Today their numbers have rebounded to around 350,000—about 1% of their original herd size—but enough to keep them out of the dangers of extinction.

What time of day are bison most active? ›

Bison are mostly active during the day and at dusk, but may be active through the night. They are social animals that often form herds, which appear to be directed by older females.

How far do bison move in a day? ›

Historically, these animals would have roamed the prairies finding areas of suitable resources year-round. Wild bison move two to three miles a day and about 200 miles per year.

Why do bison roll in the dust? ›

Bison will lie down and roll repeatedly onto their sides to stop insects from biting them. Rolling on the ground also creates a layer of dirt on the body that forms a defensive barrier from ticks and lice.

Which president killed all the bison? ›

In 1874, President Ulysses S. Grant "pocket vetoed" a Federal bill to protect the dwindling bison herds, and in 1875 General Philip Sheridan pleaded to a joint session of Congress to slaughter the herds, to deprive the Indians of their source of food. By 1884, the American Bison was close to extinction.

Who killed the most bison? ›

"Buffalo" Bill Cody, who was hired to kill bison, slaughtered more than 4,000 bison in two years.

How many humans have been killed by bison? ›

Per a 2019 report from Utah State University, of all the wildlife in Yellowstone, bison are the biggest threats to humans. For context: Between the years of 1978 and 1992, 56 people were injured and two people were killed by bison; from 2000 to 2015, 25 people were injured by bison.

What is the difference between a buffalo and a bison? ›

So how do you tell the difference between buffalo and bison? Bison have large humps at their shoulders and bigger heads than buffalo. They also have beards, as well as thick coats which they shed in the spring and early summer. Another simple way to tell a buffalo from a bison is to look at its horns.

How many bison roam free today? ›

Two small herds of pure, wild Yellowstone bison live at Fort Peck and Fort Belknap Indian Reservations. There are approximately 20,000 plains bison managed as wildlife and 5,000 of those are unfenced and disease-free.

What is the plural of bison? ›

bison /ˈbaɪsn̩/ noun. plural bison also bisons.

How much do Buffalo Bison baseball players get paid? ›

Blue Jays draftees who end up with the Bisons are paid a range between $2,150 and $2,700 per month depending on years of service, according to The Bisons did not return a request for information. Players who become minor league free agents can negotiate higher salaries.

What is the average salary for Buffalo Bisons? ›

Buffalo Hills Bison pays an average salary of $158,015 and salaries range from a low of $139,648 to a high of $179,020.

How many people are at the Buffalo Bills game? ›

Average regular season home attendance of the Buffalo Bills 2008-2022. In 2022, the Buffalo Bills recorded an average home attendance of 68,431 spectators. This figure represents the average number of fans who attended each game held at the team's home stadium during the regular season.

Will Buffalo ever get an NBA team? ›

As of 2022, the Braves are the last New York State-based NBA team to be based somewhere other than New York City, where the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets play.

What state does not have a MLB team? ›

Though factors such as a low population can contribute to the lack of teams in certain states, places like Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Virginia, and Kentucky are examples of states with an impressive population but still no teams in the NFL, MLB, NBA, or NHL.

Are any MLB teams relocating? ›

MLB has gone the longest of the four major professional leagues in the U.S. since expanding. No team has relocated since the Montreal Expos moved to Washington D.C. and rebranded as the Nationals in 2005. The NFL, NBA, and NHL have all relocated franchises during that time.

Which MLB team do people from Buffalo support? ›

There are Jays Fans, There are Yankees fans. There are Boston Fans. We are typically not exactly a territory but if i have to say we are a Jays territory. Buffalo is the home of the Bisons with is the affiliate of the Jays.

What is the most popular sports team in Buffalo? ›

Buffalo only has the two major league sports teams, the NFL Bills and the NHL Sabres. Of the two, the Bills have higher attendance levels. In 2022, they pulled in 547,450 paying customers over just 8 home games. The Sabres pulled in 409,908 in 2021–2022 over 42 home games.

Who does Buffalo cheer for in MLB? ›

Enjoy baseball? Cheer on the Buffalo Bisons, a Triple-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays. If lacrosse is your sport, root on the Buffalo Bandits, our championship National Lacrosse League team.

How much is bison worth? ›

yearlings, $5000 to $5500. bred two-year-olds, $7000 to $9000. cows from good breeding stock herds, $10,000.

Have the Buffalo Bisons ever won a championship? ›

The Bisons have won the Governors' Cup, the championship of the IL, 6 times, including the inaugural Cup, and played in the championship series 10 times.

What NFL team has a bison? ›

Buffalo team (NFL)
Team historyBuffalo All-Stars (1915–1917) Buffalo Niagaras (1918) Buffalo Prospects (1919) Buffalo All-Americans (1920–1923) Buffalo Bisons (1924–1925) Buffalo Rangers (1926) Buffalo Bisons (1927–1929)
Team colorsBlack, orange, white
8 more rows

What is the fastest 9 inning game in MLB history? ›

At the end of the 1919 season, two teams from these cities that love to hate one another came together for a game that has no equal. On September 28, the Giants and Phillies played the fastest nine-inning game in major-league history.

Can a baseball game end in the 7th inning? ›

4-2-2 The game ends when the team behind in score has completed its turn at bat in the seventh inning, or any inning thereafter if extra innings are necessary. If the home team scores a go-ahead run in the bottom of the seventh inning, or in any extra inning, the game is terminated at that point.

What's the longest baseball game ever played? ›

Longest MLB game ever

The longest game in Major League history went on for a whopping 26 innings. The Brooklyn Robins vs. the Boston Braves game on May 1, 1920, took almost four hours.

Are there any 100% bison left? ›

The Wind Cave bison herd is a herd of 250–400 American bison in Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota, United States. As an active participant in the conservation of American bison, it is believed to be one of only seven free-roaming and genetically pure herds on public lands in North America.

What does bison taste like? ›

Bison tends to have a lighter, more delicate flavor than beef, a flavor some describe a slightly sweeter. Bison meat is considerably high in iron, too, which gives it a unique flavor that many people describe as “earthy” or “mineral.” This flavor is not overwhelming, though — bison is not “gamey” in the slightest.

How did natives hunt buffalo before horses? ›

Before they had horses, Indians hunted buffalo on foot. Getting close enough to kill a buffalo with a bow and arrow was not easy. As buffalo were afraid of people, they ran away when they saw hunters coming. One way to get close was to sneak up on a herd by dressing in animal skins.

Can bison and cows mate? ›

While there was some unintentional cross-breeding between cows and bison over the centuries, it wasn't until the 1970s that a reliable, fertile crossbreed was produced. The intent was to get the lean meat of bison into an animal that could be raised as easily as a cow.

Which states have the most bison? ›

Wyoming, Montana and Idaho: Where to Go to See Bison in the USA.

Can the bison still come back? ›

American bison, also known as buffalo, have bounced back from their near extinction due to commercial hunting in the 1800s. But they remain absent from most of the grasslands they once occupied, and many tribes have struggled to restore their deep historical connections to the animals.

Are bison worth more than cattle? ›

In a US study, it was shown that bison farming is generally cheaper (despite the higher upfront cost of purchasing animals) than equivalent calf-cow operations and that overall profits could be as much as 12 times higher per head.

How long do bison live? ›

Bison can live up to 20 years old.

The average lifespan for a bison is 10–20 years, but some live to be older. Cows begin breeding at the age of two and only have one baby at a time. For males, the prime breeding age is six to 10 years.

Do people eat bison meat? ›

Some people refer to bison as American buffalo or buffalo. Farmers rear bison as livestock, and people prepare and eat the meat in a similar way to beef. Although bison and beef taste similar, they have differences in their nutritional profile.

Is the bison population coming back? ›

American bison, also known as buffalo, have bounced back from their near extinction due to commercial hunting in the 1800s. But they remain absent from most of the grasslands they once occupied, and many tribes have struggled to restore their deep historical connections to the animals.

Are bison making a comeback? ›

A coalition of conservationists and scientists set about to recover the American bison. They began breeding formerly wild bison found on private ranches with the Yellowstone herd. As the population grew to almost 5,000, Yellowstone bison started crossing park boundaries.

Is bison Grass finished? ›

Like almost all commercially available meat, bison are usually finished in feedlots and given a grain ration to increase marbling and carcass weight. Unless you can find bison in the supermarket labeled "100% grass-fed" or "grass-finished" the animal was likely grain-finished in a feedlot.

How many games do the Bisons play? ›

Minor League Baseball is adding six games to the Triple-A regular season, with three additional home games for the Bisons. This brings the Bisons to 150 games next season, the most the teams played since the 1964 International League season. The Bisons' 2022 season begins April 5 against the Iowa Cubs at Sahlen Field.

Where is the largest bison herd in the United States? ›

Yellowstone bison are exceptional because they comprise the nation's largest bison population on public land. Unlike most other herds, this population has thousands of individuals that are allowed to roam relatively freely over the expansive landscape of Yellowstone National Park and some nearby areas of Montana.

What was the highest population of bison in the United States? ›

Yellowstone is the only place in the continental US where wild, free ranging bison have lived continuously since prehistoric times. It is also the largest bison population in the country.

Is it easier to raise cattle or bison? ›

Raising bison is similar (but not identical) to raising beef cattle. Bison are large, strong, and excitable animals. They require both special fencing and handling facilities if you want to farm them. However, bison don't require shelter even in northern climates, which can make them a bit easier to manage in that way.

What do bison do when a storm is coming? ›

While bison are similar in some ways to cattle, there are significant differences. For example, bison will turn into a snow storm rather than drifting with the wind because they instinctively know that walking into the storm will get them out of the weather quicker.

Is it OK to eat bison? ›

Cook all raw bison steaks and roasts to a minimum internal temperature of 145 °F as measured with a food thermometer before removing meat from the heat source. For safety and quality, allow meat to rest for at least three minutes before carving or consuming.

Is it legal to eat bison meat? ›

As the sale of game meat is illegal in most of the United States and Canada, many farms have started to farm bison to fulfill a demand for this meat. Many upscale restaurants sell bison as a luxury alternative to beef, and even some mainstream food markets sell bison in the form of jerky or other snacks.

Who eats buffalo meat? ›

Buffalo meat is the meat of the water buffalo, a large bovid, raised for its milk and meat in many countries including India, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Philippines, Bulgaria, Italy, Russia, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Australia and Egypt.

Who owns the Buffalo Bisons? ›

The Sahlen's name is synonymous with high quality service and products and we couldn't be happier to host our brand of family-friendly sports entertainment at Sahlen Field," said Bob Rich Jr., president and owner of the Buffalo Bisons.

Do the Bisons play in the rain? ›

If you open an umbrella during game action, you will be asked by an usher to close it. Just because we can't play on the field, doesn't mean you can't play indoors! If the Bisons have a rainout, make sure you take your game ticket to your favorite Bounce Magic location!


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