Located in New York’s Buffalo, International Fair Association Grounds was one of the most favored destinations for baseball enthusiasts during the “dead-ball era.” It took the baseball world by storm and hosted games for a few seasons between 1914 and 1915. But the baseball park’s most famous tryst with history came through its association with the rebel the Federal League.
Buffalo’s International Fair Association Grounds existed half a century before Buffalo Blues franchise occupied it as their home ground. The extensive arena, a few blocks away from the Buffalo Baseball Park, was originally a fairground hosting annual exhibitions since the 1850s. With a grandstand and tracks for horserace and bicycle events, the ground was a big attraction for the locals. However, real estate developers overtook the ground in the 1910s and named it Hamlin Park.
During 1913, there were efforts to start a third major league, and this culminated in the emergence of the Federal League. It led to the introduction of new baseball teams and the inauguration of new baseball stadiums. Buffalo Blues, the city’s Federal League franchise, opted for International Fair Association Grounds as their home. As a result, construction began soon and a part of the fair association grounds was converted to a concrete ballpark called the Federal League Park.
Buffalo Blues sold their shares at $10 each subsequently to raise money for the stadium construction. But the team was able to play their first game only a month into the league season after the ballpark became fully ready on March 23, 1914.
Buffalo’s International Fair Association Grounds were part of the national baseball season from 1914 to 1915. The home team hosted Chicago Whales, St. Louis Terriers, Pittsburgh Rebels, Kansas City Packers, Newark Peppers, Brooklyn Tip-Tops, and Baltimore Terrapins.
Higher pay enticed many established baseball players to join the home team and play at International Fair Association Grounds during the Federal League years. These include:
- Boston Red Sox starting pitcher and 1912 World Series winner Hugh Bedient.
- Celebrated baseball manager and Bucknell Hall of Fame catcher Walter Blair.
- Hal Chase, one of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players of All Time and listed as the best first baseman ever by Yankee great Babe Ruth, the man behind the 1923 Yankee Stadium.
- 1929 World Series winner Howard Ehmke.
- Boston Sox founding team member Harry Lord.
- Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame member Russ Ford, the father of the emery ball.
The End of An Era
After the 1915 season, the predatory policies of American and National Leagues made it difficult for the Federal League to survive. The end of the Federal League sealed the fate of International Fair Association Grounds as a baseball park. Meanwhile, other league leaders bought Buffalo Blues making the team and its home ground defunct.
After the Federal League became non-functional, the Buffeds tried to save their ballpark by offering the Buffalo Bisons to play there. However, Buffalo Bisons showed no interest and the owners of Buffalo Blues propose to sell the stadium to the local government. But it didn’t materialize, and the International Fair Association Grounds baseball park underwent demolition in 1916.
With Buffalo’s most famous baseball destination was closed in 1915, the city lost its place on the national baseball map. The park was subsequently demolished and replaced by a residential building. Still, a street called Inter Park Avenue signals the heritage status of the place in the annals of American baseball.
Purely Baseball Things To Know
- The closer of International Fair Association Grounds kept major league baseball match away from Buffalo for 105 years. It ended in 2020 when Toronto Blue Jays opted for Sahlen Field as their home ground.
- Buffalo Blues ended up in fourth and sixth positions in 1914 and 1915 Federal League seasons.
- The baseball park was among the few exclusive Federal League stadiums built and the list also included Chicago’s Wrigley Field opened on April 23, 1914.
Buffalo’s International Fair Association Grounds was the host for the 1914 New York Pro Football League championship.