Remembering the Buffalo Clowns of the Negro American League
The Toronto Blue Jays are not the only baseball team, historically, to choose Buffalo, NY as their home to play baseball. The same is true of the 'Indianapolis Clowns', know locally in Buffalo as the 'Buffalo Clowns' from the famed Negro American League, as noted by Jeff Z. Klein of BuffaloRising.com.
The 'Buffalo Clowns' were a very successful team, as they were already the Negro League Champions upon arriving in Buffalo in 1951, and went on to win 2 more championships in 1952 and1955. Per BuffaloRising.com, during their 5 year span in Buffalo the Clowns played all of their games at home at Offermann Stadium on Michigan and East Ferry.
The 'Indianapolis (Buffalo) Clowns' were owned by Syd Pollock, and they were considered the 'Harlem Globetrotters of Baseball'. They came to be known as the 'Clowns' because they did tricks with the baseball and entertained the crowds beyond just the gameplay. According to a Buffalo News article, this is an account of what the Clowns did at their games:
They ran the bases backward, stole third base from first, and shot craps during the game. They would put a woman in the lineup or send a midget pinch-hitter to the plate.
Speaking of putting women on the plate, the Clowns were the first baseball team to hire a female player to a long-term deal. Per Brittanica.com Toni Stone was hired by the team in 1953. She was needed not only as a player on the team but also as a necessary attraction to replace another young star player who only played with the 'Buffalo Clowns' for 1 season before being scooped up by the Boston Braves.
This phenomenal young player, who began in Buffalo, NY, went on to make baseball history hitting 755 home runs in his career, according to History.com, and came to be known as Hammerin' Hank. Hank Aaron was 'The Home-Run King' until 2007 when Barry Bonds broke Hammerin' Hank's record. There'a whole story about Hank Aaron actually learning how to bat while in Buffalo at the start of his young career at 17 years-old--click the link below to check it out.
The historical record of the Negro Baseball League is scarce, but enough information remains such that it's amazing to read about. There are a few actual videos of some of the players with the following video featuring one of the Negro Baseball League Greats, Reece 'Goose' Tatum.
Reece 'Goose' Tatum was not only a star on the Buffalo 'Clowns' Negro League Baseball team, but he also played for 11 years and was a Star with the Harlem Globetrotters....well, that's an understatement...Reece 'Goose' Tatum was the Harlem Globetrotters, where he earned the world-renowned nickname, 'The Clown Prince of Basketball'.
Reece 'Goose' Tatum featured in this video in Buffalo, NY with the (Indianapolis) 'Buffalo Clowns':
For more on the 'Indianapolis' / 'Buffalo Clowns' story please click the link below.