August 1, 1983 -- It was an odd landmark in the history of Buffalo baseball, but one worth noting. That's because it qualifies even if someone writes a column called "This Day in Buffalo Entertainment History."
It's the day "The Natural" began filming in Buffalo.
The adaptation of the Bernard Malamud novel finally was headed to the big screen. An initial problem for the producers was finding a ballpark that could match the book's 1930's setting. When they heard about War Memorial Stadium, they came in for a look. The Bisons drove them right through the Stadium's tunnel and parked by home plate. It didn't take long to convince them that this was the place.
War Memorial Stadium received something of a $500,000 facelift for the movie's productions. A scoreboard was added in left field, with period billboards added. Extra seats were installed right behind home plate; fans never had a closer view than the ones who were lucky enough to sit there. A tunnel was added that connected into the visitors' dugout. Many of the seats were painted.
The movie's shooting schedule worked around the Bisons' home games, and it added a mystical feeling to the first year of ownership of the team by Rich Products. It all worked in a movie that is still a favorite of local fans.
--- Budd Bailey