1917 Buffalo Baseball
by Scott Hollander
University at Buffalo Libraries
Lead once again by Coach George “Heinie” Smith, eighteen games, including eight at home, were booked for the 1917 U.B. baseball team in early February. (see “U.B. Books Strong Array of Colleges for Baseball Team” Buffalo Courier, 7 February 1917)
Charley Thill, mainstay pitcher for the past two seasons, was expected to continue his dominance on the mound with returning varsity catcher “Dewey” Erwin supporting him behind the plate.
But on April 6, 1917, the United States entered World War I as Congress declared war upon the German Empire. Despite wartime conditions, Manager Driggs quickly announced that baseball at U.B. would continue.
Military authorities had advised schools that athletics should be continued so that the men would be in the best of condition should they be called upon to give aid to their country.
Although rain again caused havoc to their schedule, Buffalo did play some games including a 23-6 drubbing of Hobart College. But by mid-May, the University of Buffalo Athletic association announced that all the remaining scheduled games were cancelled. Most of the other schools on Buffalo’s schedule had already disbanded their teams due to lack of players. Buffalo simply didn’t have enough collegiate opponents left to play. A promising U.B. baseball team never got to display it’s talents as the country went to war in earnest.
The 1917 squad would be the last official team at the University of Buffalo for over 30 years as baseball would not reappear until 1949.
U.B. BOOKS STRONG ARRAY OF COLLEGES FOR BASEBALL TEAM
Rensselaer Poly and Hiram Get Places — Meet Cadets Again.
ANGLING FOR CORNELL
The University of Buffalo is making marked progress in the minor college baseball world and rapid strides toward building a foundation upon which it may soon rest its claims for admission into the realm of the major colleges and universities.
Under the guidance of Coach George (Heinie) Smith, former leader of the Bisons, the varsity has come within a stone’s throw of the intercollegiate series. Its success is significant from many angles because it means the other live sports—football, basketball and track are profiting by the advance of the team on the diamond.
Manager Irving Driggs yesterday announced the 1917 schedule, which shows a formidable array of teams which the team, under the leadership of Eddie Burns, will be forced to combat in order to defend its right to recognition. Many of last year’s opponents are booked together with some new faces.
Rensselaer Poly and Hiram college are two new prominent faces. Each team is a strong foe, one in the east, the other in the west. The West Point cadets, who were forced to travel eleven innings last year to beat the varsity, are again on the schedule. Efforts are being made to book Cornell for a game here on June 8, commencement day. A game with Colgate is also pending. Eighteen games, eight at home, have been booked. The complete schedule follows:
April 14 – Niagara University at Niagara Falls.
April 21 – Rensselaer Poly Institute at Buffalo.
May 2 – Hobart College at Geneva, N. Y.
May 6 – Niagara University at Buffalo.
May 9 – Rochester University at Buffalo.
May 11 – Clarkson Tech. Institute at Buffalo.
May 12 – Carnegie Institute Technology at Buffalo.
May 16 – St. Bonaventure at Olean, N. Y.
May 17 – Hiram college at Hiram, Ohio.
May 18 – St. Ignatius College at Cleveland, Ohio.
May 19 – Michigan Aggies at East Lansing, Mich.
May 23 – Hobart College at Buffalo.
May 26 – St. Lawrence University at Buffalo.
June 2 – St. Bonaventure at Buffalo.
June 4 – Clarkson Inst. Technology at Potsdam, N. Y
June 5 – St. Lawrence University at Canton, N. Y.
June 6 – West Point at West Point, N. Y.
June 7 – Rensselaer Poly. Inst. at Troy, N. Y.
June 8—Commencement day game, Cornell at Buffalo (pending).
— Buffalo Courier, February 7, 1917