Robert E. Rich Jr.

Robert E. Rich Jr.

Buffalo Bisons Owner

While many Buffalonians associated the Rich name primarily with ownership of the Buffalo Bisons baseball team, Bob’s involvement in the team merely represents the logical culmination of a life-long love affair with sports and with active participation. Rich the owner is successor to Rich the athlete; the second would not have occurred without the first.

Rich the athlete has his beginnings on the streets of North Buffalo and at Nichols School, where he quarterbacked the football team and tended goal for the hockey team. Bob backstopped outstanding Nichols teams, and continued his success at Williams College. Rich was the last cut for the US Olympic hockey team in 1964. As a youth, Bob also acquired a taste for squash, capturing his first of four Buffalo squash titles in 1952 (he also won two City doubles titles). Bob’s thirst for competition throughout the years has been slaked by polo (as a participant in tournaments for over 10 years in New York and Florida), and big game fishing. Diving into angling with the same passion he has long displayed for other sports, Bob has attained membership in the South Florida Fishing Hall of Fame (it’s a small hall, with only two members).

Nontheless, Bob Rich Jr.’s enduring and endearing contribution to the Buffalo community has been his ownership of the Buffalo Bisons. In 1983, Bob stepped forward to purchase the struggling Double-A franchise, the first in a series of moves that enabled Buffalo baseball not only to survive, but flourish. Rich upgraded the franchise to Triple A in 1984, and his promotional efforts and dedication to the concept of affordable family entertainment produced astounding attendance figures (nearly 500,000 in 1987) at old War Memorial Stadium, and paved the way for the next stage of his dream- the construction of a new, state of the art home for the Bisons in downtown Buffalo.

Pilot Field opened in 1988, and attendance topped one-million six straight seasons. Fans flocked to see not only Buffalo’s jewel of a ballpark (whose design inspired major-league retro-parks such as Jacobs Field and Camden Yards), but to watch competitive, entertaining teams which produced league championships in 1997 and 1998 through affiliations with successful major league franchises such as the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cleveland Indians. Overall, the 20-year tenure of Rich ownership has produced nine playoff teams and a .541 winning percentage.

The philosophy which has made Rich Products successful — attention to the needs of the customer — applies equally to the Bisons operation, and has made the organization a model for operations throughout baseball. Buffalonians have enjoyed the modern era of Bisons baseball, and equally enjoyed the induction into the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame of the man who made it possible — Robert E. Rich, Jr.