January 29, 1960 -- Baseball fever broke out throughout Western New York on this date. Briefly.
The Continental League announced that its eighth franchise had been awarded to Buffalo. You may not have heard of the circuit, because it never played a game.
The Continental League was organized by legendary baseball executive Branch Rickey. The idea was to set up eight expansion teams who had their own league within the structure of major league baseball. That way there wouldn't be pressure to keep up with the Yankees and teams like that. Call it something of a back door method of expansion. The idea was to get into the majors, which had been at 16 teams since the previous turn of the century.
A Buffalo group was formed and was the final team to be accepted. Robert Swados, who later became involved in the original ownership group of the Buffalo Sabres, was one of the key figures in the baseball group locally.
After lots of posturing and jockeying, the major leagues decided it would be easier to expand by four teams in 1961/62 than to start an entirely new league. So teams went to Los Angeles, Washington, New York and Houston. That left Denver, Dallas, Atlanta and Buffalo out. (Minneapolis was one of the original Continental League teams, but the Senators moved there and were immediately replaced by an expansion team.)
The biggest legacy to the Continental League might be that the Buffalo Bisons moved from Offermann Stadium to War Memorial Stadium, in part because of its larger seating capacity. Some old-timers are still upset about that one.
--- Budd Bailey