The Nitros consider themselves a revival of an extensive organized baseball tradition in Allegany County, New York. In 1942, the Wellsville Yankees were established as members of the minor-league "PONY League" (now known as the New York–Penn League). The team changed names (and affiliations) numerous times in its 23 seasons of existence, being variously known as the Senators (1950), Rockets (1951–52), Braves (1953–61) and Red Sox at various points in its existence; although the team typically held the name of the parent club with which it was affiliated, the professional team also used the name Wellsville Nitros from 1947 to 1949, an apparent reference to nitroglycerin or trinitrotoluene, both explosives used in natural gas exploration (the Nitros' logo includes a flaming derrick). The New York–Penn League left Wellsville after the 1965 season; the former Wellsville franchise is still active, now playing as the Connecticut Tigers.
Wellsville's PONY/NYPL franchise won the league title in 1943, 1956, 1959 and 1960. They played all of their games at Tullar Field, which was mostly destroyed in the flooding associated with Hurricane Agnes in 1972 and rebuilt as a smaller facility.
The current version of the Nitros was founded in 1998 by John Rigas. Rigas, the founder and CEO of Adelphia Communications Corporation and owner of the Buffalo Sabres, founded the team as a way to restore organized baseball to Wellsville. Shortly after Rigas was embroiled in an embezzlement scandal that ultimately led to his imprisonment, he gave up the team, which rebranded as the Allegany County Nitros after the team relocated to the nearby village of Scio.
- John Rigs throws first pitch at Nitros game. Olean Times Herald. Retrieved June 15, 2016.