We have long known that the Toronto Blue Jays were eying a return to Buffalo to play a portion of the 2021 regular season once the Gulf Coast of Florida becomes too hot and sticky to play baseball, but we were not certain how that would affect the Bisons until today. This morning, the Buffalo Bisons officially announced that the triple-A club will call Trenton, New Jersey home this season.
Trenton lost their Eastern League double-A team in the recent cull of minor league teams and were left without an affiliated club this season. They were set to host an MLB Draft League team this summer, but with the Bisons coming to town, that team will shift to another venue as the dominoes fall.
The stated reason for the move is that Sahlen Field will be undergoing some significant—and this time, permanent—multi-million-dollar renovations to improve the standards of the ballpark for the Blue Jays this season and the Bisons beyond. Upgrades that were listed include:
- Bullpens will be moved from on-field foul territory to beyond the right-centre field wall as a tiered bullpen
- New batting cages will be constructed beyond the outfield wall
- Renovations to the clubhouse and a new weight room
- Lighting to be replaced with LED bulbs
The Buffalo News’ Mike Harrington also reports that the home dugout will be moved from the first base to the third base side, matching the configuration at the Rogers Centre.
Like last year, two additional lighting poles will be temporarily installed while Major League games are played (and presumably removed when triple-A ball returns to Buffalo).
While the Buffalo Bisons play at their temporary home, they will be wearing Trenton Thunder uniforms and will be called the Thunder, according to the Thunder’s website. The Bisons name and gear will return for road games.
Having a home of their own, albeit far from Buffalo, is likely preferable to both players and Blue Jays brass than a potential home-sharing formula with the Rochester Red Wings, even though their home schedules align perfectly.
Interesting find: the Buffalo Bisons and Rochester Red Wings are never home on the same date this year.— Minor League Working Group Member (@Minor_Leaguer) February 18, 2021
Coincidence or by design to allow the Bisons to play home games at Frontier Field if the Blue Jays are playing at Sahlen Field? pic.twitter.com/42LbIQBlHI
The Trenton Buffalo Thunder Bisons’ season begins at the Trenton Thunder Ballpark on May 4 against the brand-new Worcester Red Sox on May 4. Attendance at the park has not been announced, but the Thunder have reported that they are working closely with local authorities to determine COVID guidelines and restrictions.
Four Fun Facts about Trenton
1. Eating Contest at the Ballpark
The Thunder Ballpark holds a pork roll eating contest every year. In 2019, world-famous competitive eating legend Joey Chestnut set a new world record by eating 61 and a half pork roll sandwiches in 10 minutes.
2. Slice, the Pork Roll Mascot
Pork roll, for those who may be unaware, is the pride of New Jersey cuisine. it is a cylindrical tube of processed packed pork meat product that is sliced and grilled before serving with a fried egg in a sandwich. The Thunder have a mascot named Slice, who is a slice of pork roll.
Fridays won't be the same without Pork Roll Fridays. During the 2018 season, the Thunder re-branded as the Thunder Pork Roll for Friday home games, joining in the MiLB trend of re-branded food based teams. The hats were cool since it sported Thunder mascot, Slice (on the right). pic.twitter.com/I52wu0Vard— Angel ⚾ ⚡ (@AngelPhotog) September 14, 2018
3. Bat Dogs!
The Thunder employ two bat dogs, named Derby and Rookie, who help players retrieve their bats.
4. Canada and Blue Jays Connections
The Trenton Thunder used to be the London Tigers until 1993. Former Blue Jay David Eckstein’s #2 is retired by the Thunder. Another Jays alumnus, Ken Macha, managed the Thunder in 1995 and 1996 before being succeeded by future Jays bench coach DeMarlo Hale.