Photograph © Bob Gaver
May 3rd 1961 began the new War Memorial Stadium era of Bisons baseball and it also would be the 2nd half of a 4 year Player Development Contract with the
Philadelphia Phillies. 20,619 fans piled into War Memorial Stadium in their inaugural game here to watch the Bisons defeat the Puerto Rico Marlins, 4-3. The tie-breaking run was scored by Jim Frey (17 2B, 10 HR, .263), future major league manager for Kansas City and Chicago. The 1961 Bisons featured three "24 HR hitters", so it seemed the short porch in LF would make this ballpark a Home Run haven like Offerman Stadium was (Don Mincher (13 2B, 24 HR, 66 RBI, .257), Felix Torres (32 2B, 24 RBI, 97 RBI, .278) Ted Savage (29 2B, 24, HR, 65 RBI, 31 SB, .325) who led the league in hitting and was the winner of the I.L. MVP Award) Tony Curry (21 HR, .285) also hit over 20 HR. The Bisons finished the season at 85-67 (.559) and made the playoffs. There, they bucked their usual trend of making it to the finals and losing and into the "Little World Series" where they swept Louisville 4 games to 0. The Bisons had only won 3 Minor League Championships (1933, 1936, 1957) at Offerman Stadium so this was a pretty big deal. Would the novelty of playing at the new ballpark and the massive amount of capacity be able to outdraw their previous season at Offerman Stadium?