Athletics in upstate New York

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Upstate New York is a storied region in North American athletics.



Although now largely discredited, the report of the 1905-1907 Mills Commission, charged with investigating the origins of baseball, named Cooperstown as the place where baseball was invented in the 1830s or 1840s by Abner Doubleday. Cooperstown is the home of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.


The first away game in the sport of basketball was played at the Albany YMCA gymnasium in 1892, the year after the sport was invented in nearby Springfield College in Massachusetts.[1]

Major league teams[edit]

Upstate New York was once the home of major league sports teams such as the Troy Trojans and the Syracuse Stars of the National League, the Buffalo Braves, Rochester Royals and the Syracuse Nationals of the National Basketball Association, the Buffalo Blues of the short-lived baseball Federal League and several teams of various sports named the Buffalo Bisons.[clarification needed]

The only teams in North America's major leagues that call Upstate New York home are the NFL's Buffalo Bills and the NHL's Buffalo Sabres.

Rochester boasts three top-level teams in sports not considered as "major" in the U.S. Two lacrosse teams call the city home—the Rochester Rattlers in Major League Lacrosse (outdoor) and Rochester Knighthawks in the National Lacrosse League (indoor). In women's soccer, the Western New York Flash of the National Women's Soccer League also play in the city.


The New York Pro Football League was an informal circuit of teams based in various cities across upstate New York; they would compete primarily in local circuits before participating in what is believed to be the first playoff tournament in professional football, which culminated in a Thanksgiving championship at Buffalo Baseball Park. The NYPFL was one of several regional leagues that foreshadowed the formation of the National Football League; several NYPFL teams joined the NFL over the course of the 1920s. As of 2012, the only professional football team in the territory is the Buffalo Bills of the NFL. Although the region has hosted indoor football teams in the past, no teams currently play in the region.

Collegiate athletics[edit]

The collegiate sports programs at Syracuse University (Syracuse Orange, football and basketball) and Cornell University (Cornell Big Red, primarily hockey) attract significant regional attention. In Western New York, the UB Bulls are the most widely known college football team, while in basketball, the regional "Big 4" rivalry between UB, the Canisius Golden Griffins, the Niagara Purple Eagles and St. Bonaventure Bonnies takes prominence. Siena College, Loudonville, NY, Men's Basketball team in 2008 (Vanderbilt) as a 13-seed and in 2009 (Ohio St.) as a 9-seed, upset major programs to advance to second of their respected NCAA Tournaments. The St. Bonaventure women's basketball team reached the Sweet 16 of the 2012 NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Tournament, the farthest any Western New York team has ever advanced into the tournament. Upstate's numerous SUNY colleges compete in the State University of New York Athletic Conference, at Division III in the NCAA; the SUNYAC houses several college ice hockey powerhouses, including the Oswego Lakers and Plattsburgh Cardinals, who share a heated rivalry.

Minor league teams[edit]

Rochester is home to several Minor League sports teams, including hockey's Americans (or "Amerks" as known locally) and baseball's Red Wings. Other Upstate New York minor league professional sports teams include the Syracuse Chiefs of the Triple-A baseball International League, the Binghamton Rumble Ponies of the Double-A baseball Eastern League, the Binghamton Senators, Syracuse Crunch and Adirondack Phantoms of the American Hockey League (AHL), the Elmira Jackals of the ECHL, the Albany Patroons of the Continental Basketball Association; and the Auburn Doubledays, the Tri-City ValleyCats and the Batavia Muckdogs of the Class A baseball New York–Penn League (NYPL). Another Upstate team, the Jamestown Jammers, played in the NYPL before moving to Morgantown, West Virginia in 2015. The Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League and New York Collegiate Baseball League operate within upstate New York.

Native American teams[edit]

The Iroquois Nationals are the national lacrosse team of the Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy that competes in international competition; it represents the Iroquois reservations in the United States, the Grand River reservation in Ontario and the Seven Nations in Quebec.[2] The team was admitted to the International Lacrosse Federation (ILF), since superseded by the Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL), in 1990 and is the only Native American/First Nations team sanctioned to compete in any sport internationally.[2]

Auto racing[edit]

In auto racing, Watkins Glen International Speedway is the major race track in the area[citation needed] and hosts annual races in the NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series as well as the Sports Car Club of America. Holland Speedway in Holland hosts races in the Whelen All-American Series. In addition, numerous smaller speedways and dirt tracks exist in Little Valley, Freedom, Humphrey, Granby (serving the city of Fulton), Oswego, Lancaster, Ransomville and numerous other cities and towns.


"Hacksaw" Jim Duggan – professional wrestler of Mid-South, WWF and WCW fame. Glens Falls native

  • Dave LaPoint – retired Major League Baseball pitcher and 1982 World Series champion; owner of Dave LaPoint's

Dave Palmer – retired Major League Baseball pitcher; born in Glens Falls

Athletic events[edit]

Athletic leagues[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Austin N. O'Brien (n.d.). "National Register of Historic Places Registration: Young Men's Christian Association Building". New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Retrieved 2010-10-13.  See also: "Accompanying six photos" (Java applet). 
  2. ^ a b Fryling, Kevin (2006-07-27). "Nike deal promotes Native American wellness, lacrosse". University of Buffalo Reporter. Archived from the original on 6 September 2006. Retrieved 2006-07-28.