By Grace Wenner, Leah Chlewicki, Nick Pulinski
Sahlen Field is a stadium swaddled in the scrabble of skyway bridges and set amongst the developing rubble of urban construction, quaintly housing the Buffalo Bisons professional Minor League Baseball team.
A Triple-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays, The Bisons serve as a farm team for the Canadian Major Leaguers. Toronto, which stands as a northern metropolis, was once in identical size to Buffalo, which now has to climb the ladder of popularity amongst it’s municipal competitors.
Comparable to Buffalo’s growth of culture and community in the past decade, the Bison’s blessing of rookie players clawing at competitive success is proving Buffalo’s aspirations of economic and social prosperity, sealed with old American charm.
While baseball, or local sports of any nature, bring a competitive edge to the community’s entertainment industry, the residents of Buffalo recognize that there is much more color to the lifeblood of America’s favorite pastime.
Buffalo, built on the grass-roots idea of American Industrialization, is appropriately fitted with a ballpark parallel to the early start of blue collar American culture. With the revival of Buffalo city sophistication, the team has been gifted with prodigy players.
Notably, Vlad Guerrero Jr., son of Hall-of-Famer Vlad Guerrero Sr., has been described as a “rare, unique, once in a lifetime opportunity,” by Brad Bisbing, the Director of Marketing & Public Relations.
“There has been nobody like him in the 32 years of this ballpark,” Bisbing adds. “The month that he was on, the traffic that our website would see was almost more than the next two minor teams combined.”
Guerrero, as well as Bishette, are ballpark prophets. Pat Malacaro, the Media Relations Manager and announcer, or commonly called the “Voice of the Bisons”, made note of the attention the Bisons received online from Guerrero and Bishette.
“Everyone wants to talk to him [Guerrero],” said Bisbing. “We make sure the players have what they need, and the media members have what they need. The sense of cooperation and humanity displayed by this group embodies Buffalo’s tone as a whole.
Buffalo’s adored trademark beer vendor of 48 years, self proclaimed as “Conehead” provides observation of audience reaction. Conehead’s title is explanatory in his headpiece, a nod to SNL’s popular 70’s skit.
“Obviously the team is playing much better,” he said. “Last year, the month of August, it was phenomenal. The excitement the young guys create […] he’s [Guerrero] got hall of fame written all over him.”
The success is written in the stats. Bichette, aged 21, thrives with a batting average of .327 in his Minor League career. Guerrero, only aged 20, tops with an average of .331. They prove themselves as prospering players in the numbers.
An authentic anticipation of success shown to the rising players is no stranger to the overwhelming anticipation of Buffalo’s own success. The blessing of baseball legends in the making mirrors the influx of attention downtown has been receiving, specifically, the curating and crafting of Canalside as a booming tourist attraction. The Queen City and the Bison’s adamant growth continue to prove themselves as a testament to Western New York’s proud Rust Belt history, and the journey of achieving the American dream.