Nashville Sounds

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Nashville Sounds
Founded in 1978
Nashville, Tennessee
NashvilleSounds.png NashvilleSoundsCap.png
Team logo Cap insignia
Class-level
Current Triple-A (1985–present)
Previous Double-A (1978–1984)
Minor league affiliations
League Pacific Coast League (1998–present)
Conference American Conference
Division South Division
Previous leagues

American Association (1985–1997)

Southern League (1978–1984)
Major league affiliations
Current Milwaukee Brewers (2005–present)
Previous

Pittsburgh Pirates (1998–2004)
Chicago White Sox (1993–1997)
Cincinnati Reds (1987–1992)
Detroit Tigers (1985–1986)
New York Yankees (1980–1984)

Cincinnati Reds (1978–1979)
Minor league titles
League titles 1979, 1982, 2005
Conference titles 2003, 2005
Division titles 1979, 1981, 1982, 1990, 1993, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007
Team data
Nickname Nashville Sounds (1978–present)
Colors red, black, white
              
Ballpark Herschel Greer Stadium (1978–present)
First Tennessee Park (2015-future)
Owner(s)/
Operator(s)
MFP Baseball / Nashville Sounds Baseball Club
Manager Rick Sweet
General manager Brad Tammen

The Nashville Sounds are a minor league baseball team of the Pacific Coast League (PCL), and the Triple-A affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers. They are located in Nashville, Tennessee, and are named for the city's association with the music industry. The team plays its home games at Herschel Greer Stadium, which opened in 1978 and holds 10,300 fans. In 2015, the Sounds will leave Greer and move to a new facility two miles north (First Tennessee Park), near the former site of Nashville's historic Sulphur Dell ballpark.

Established as a Double-A team in 1978, the Sounds were replaced by a Triple-A team in 1985. The Triple-A Sounds carried on the history of the Double-A team that preceded it. The team has served as a farm club for six major league franchises. A total of 23 managers have led the club and its more than 1,000 players. As of the completion of the 2013 season, the team had played in 5,157 regular season games and compiled a win–loss record of 2,651–2,506.[1]

The team fielded in 1980 was recognized as one of the 100 greatest minor league teams of all time.[2] The 2006 team tied the record for the longest game in PCL history. Of the three nine-inning perfect games in the history of the PCL, two have been pitched by members of the Sounds.[3]

The Sounds won the PCL Championship in 2005, sweeping the Tacoma Rainiers in three games in the final series. Previous league titles won by the team are the Southern League title in 1979, as the Double-A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds, and again in 1982 as the Double-A affiliate of the New York Yankees.

Team history[edit]

Reds era (1978–1979)[edit]

Nashville's professional baseball history dates back to 1885, beginning with the Nashville Americans. They were followed by the Blues, Tigers, Seraphs, Centennials, and Vols. The city was without a professional baseball team for 14 years after the Double-A Vols ceased operations after their 1963 season. In 1978, the Nashville Sounds were added as an expansion franchise team in the Double-A Southern League and were affiliated with the Cincinnati Reds.[2]

President and part owner Larry Schmittou, head coach of the Vanderbilt University baseball team, was instrumental in bringing professional baseball back to Nashville. Schmittou's business philosophy revolved around earning profits not from ticket sales, but from the sale of souvenirs and concessions.[4] This philosophy also involved promoting entertainment value, or fun, instead of promoting the baseball game.[5] With the help of country music star Conway Twitty, who heard about the proposed team in local newspapers, Schmittou brought in other recording artists such as Larry Gatlin and Jerry Reed, as well as other Nashvillians, as Sounds shareholders.[6]

Original Sounds logo from 1978 to 1997

The club played their home games at a new facility, Herschel Greer Stadium, located south of downtown Nashville at the foot of St. Cloud Hill in Fort Negley Park. Fans responded well to the return of baseball to the city, evidenced by Nashville leading the Southern League in attendance in each of their seven seasons as a member of the league.[6] In 1980, it set the all-time league attendance record (575,676).[2] The team's name is a play on the term "Nashville sound", a sub-genre of American country music that traces its roots to the area in the late-1950s. Furthermore, the logo and color scheme were lifted from the Memphis Sounds of the American Basketball Association (ABA), who used them for one season in 1974 before the team relocated and became the Baltimore Claws. When the ABA merged with the National Basketball Association in 1976, some of the copyrights were allowed to lapse, and Nashville's baseball team adopted the abandoned schemes.[7] The color blue was added to Memphis' red and white palate. The team's original logo, which was used from 1978 to 1997, reflects the city's association with the country music industry. It depicts a mustachioed baseball player swinging at a baseball with a guitar, a staple of country music, in place of a bat. Further illustrating the city's musical ties is the typeface, with letters resembling music notes, used to display the team name. A minor league ice hockey team also owned by Schmittou from 1981 to 1984, the Nashville South Stars, used a nearly-identical (albeit hockey-themed) wordmark and logo as the Sounds, except with green and gold colors to match its affiliated NHL club, the Minnesota North Stars.

A man wearing a white baseball uniform with "Rays" written across the chest in green and a black cap stands on a baseball field
Skeeter Barnes played third base for the Sounds in 1979.

The Sounds played their first home game, a 12–4 victory, on April 26, 1978 against the Savannah Braves in front of a sellout crowd of 8,156 fans.[8] The home opener was scheduled to take place the previous evening, but was rained out.[5] The team requested to open the season on the road and had to swap a series with the Chattanooga Lookouts in order to have enough time to complete the stadium.[5] Tractors and grading machines were still preparing the field on game day, and the electricity was turned on only five minutes before the gates opened.[5] The sod, which arrived late, was laid the day before the scheduled opening game with the help of an estimated group of 50 fans who heard an announcement from general manager Farrell Owens on local radio stations inviting them to a "sod party".[5] As the Double-A affiliate of the Reds, the Sounds finished ninth during their inaugural campaign of 1978, but led all of minor league baseball in attendance by drawing 380,000 fans.[6]

Under manager George Scherger, the Sounds started the 1979 season poorly, before rallying to win 20 of 31 games in late May and June. They entered the last game of the first half in first place, but lost to their cross-state rivals, the Memphis Chicks and finished in second place. The Sounds and Chicks met again on the last day of the second half in a split doubleheader; both games were won by Nashville. The two teams then faced-off in a best-of-three series to determine the Western Division champion. The Sounds won the series two games to one before advancing to the Southern League championship series against the Columbus Astros. Nashville captured the league title by defeating the Astros three games to one. Also in 1979, the team played host to the Southern League All-Star Game. The contest pitted a team of the league's all-stars against the major league Atlanta Braves. The all-stars defeated the Braves, five runs to two. Nashville's Duane Walker was named the MVP.[9]

Originally, the Reds allowed Nashville to use a designated hitter in their lineup. However, this allowance was later revoked, as the Reds were a part of the National League which did not use a DH. President Larry Schmittou issued an ultimatum: if Cincinnati would not let them use the DH, they would not renew their contract and would look for a new major league affiliate. The Reds did not renege on their decision to prohibit the DH, so the Sounds looked for a new affiliate after 1979. Schmittou was then approached by five or six clubs looking to enter the Southern League as a Sounds affiliate.[5]

Yankees era (1980–1984)[edit]

The Sounds made their first affiliation switch in 1980, becoming a part of the New York Yankees organization. Managers Stump Merrill and Johnny Oates and future major leaguers such as Steve Balboni, Don Mattingly, Buck Showalter, Otis Nixon, Willie McGee, Pat Tabler, and Dan Pasqua helped lead Nashville to first or second-place divisional finishes from 1980 to 1984.

The 1980 Sounds finished the first half of the season one-and-a-half games behind the Memphis Chicks. In the second half, the team finished in first place, 14 games ahead of the second-place team. In the Western Division championship series, Nashville lost to Memphis, three games to one. Nine Southern League records were set during the season, the team's pitching staff led the league in ERA and strikeouts, and Steve Balboni led the league in runs, home runs, and total bases.[2] The team also set a league attendance record, when a total of 575,676 fans visited Greer Stadium.[2] As of the completion of the 2007 season, this record still stands. In 2001, the 1980 Sounds were ranked as the sixty-ninth greatest minor league baseball team of all-time by baseball historians.[2]

A man wearing a gray baseball uniform with navy blue stripes with "New York" written on the chest
Don Mattingly played first base and outfield for Nashville in 1981.

On April 16, 1981, the New York Yankees made a stop in Nashville to play an exhibition game against the Sounds. The 10–1 Yankees victory was played in front of a standing room only crowd of 17,318 fans.[10] Also on hand for the game were Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, coach Yogi Berra, and players Reggie Jackson, Bucky Dent, Lou Piniella, Bobby Murcer, Goose Gossage, Tommy John, and Johnny Oates.[10] The Sounds won the second half of the season and went on to win the Western Division championship after defeating the Memphis Chicks in three straight games. The team suffered in the best-of-five league championship series, falling to the Orlando Twins, 3–1. Don Mattingly and Willie McGee, who both played for the Sounds in 1981, were later promoted to the major leagues. In 1985, Mattingly was named the American League Most Valuable Player and McGee named the National League MVP.[11]

The following year, second half winner Nashville met the Knoxville Blue Jays in the 1982 division playoffs. After defeating the Blue Jays, the Sounds advanced to the league championship series to play against the Jacksonville Suns. Nashville defeated the Suns, three games to one, clinching the Southern League championship, giving the franchise their second league title.[12]

The New York Yankees returned for another exhibition game against the Sounds on April 28, 1983. New York had a four-run lead going into the bottom of the ninth inning, but a five-run rally with two outs propelled the Sounds to a 5–4 win in front of 13,641 fans.[13] Among the Yankees in attendance for the game were Billy Martin, Yogi Berra, Goose Gossage, Ken Griffey, Sr., Dave Winfield, Lou Piniella, and Willie Randolph.[13] During the season, manager Doug Holmquist, frustrated with the team's disappointing first half, instituted a system of fines for player infractions or poor performance on the field. The program ranged from a US$10 fine for a pitcher walking a batter with one on and two outs to a US$100 fine for missing curfew.[14] Rebounding, Nashville won the second half pennant, earning the team a shot at the Western Division championship. The Sounds, however, lost the fifth game of the best-of-five series to the Birmingham Barons by a score of seven runs to five, ending their season.[14] On June 21, during a road trip to Orlando, Florida, teammates Scott Bradley, Mike Pagliarulo, Erik Peterson, and Buck Showalter were walking back to their hotel when Peterson was hit by an automobile. When he began to convulse, Bradley put his fingers down Peterson's throat to keep him from swallowing his tongue. He survived, but with a bruised leg and several lacerations to the head, and he returned to play later in the season.[14] The Southern League All-Star Game returned to Nashville in 1983. Not only did the Sounds host the event, but they also served as the all-star team's competition. The all-stars recorded the victory with a score of three runs to two.[9]

The Sounds were one game shy of winning the first half pennant in 1984. Winning the first half title is something that eluded the team during its entire seven-year span at the Double-A level. Nashville captured the second half title, however, for the sixth consecutive season, after defeating Knoxville in a playoff game. The two teams met again in the divisional playoffs, but Knoxville emerged the victor, ending the Sounds' season. One important highlight of the first half of 1984 took place on May 4, when Jim Deshaies pitched the club's first no-hitter against the Columbus Astros in the second game of a seven-inning doubleheader. The 5–1 Sounds victory was cut short of being a perfect game following three walks and a batter being hit by a pitch, advancing the runner home for the only Astros run of the game.[15]

Tigers era (1985–1986)[edit]

A man wearing gray baseball pants, a red jersey with "D-Backs" written across the chest in black letters, and a red cap with a black "D" on it stands on a baseball field
Bob Melvin played catcher and outfield for the Sounds in 1985.

In 1983, Sounds President Larry Schmittou noticed a 5% drop in season ticket sales, a higher ratio of no-shows from season ticket holders, and a slight decline in overall attendance.[16] These issues with spectator turnout were accompanied by a decline in local media coverage, particularly in regard to road games. In order to boost interest in the team, Schmittou tried, unsuccessfully, to purchase a Triple-A franchise late in the 1983 season. Attendance continued to drop in 1984, as season ticket sales were down 12% and overall attendance was down almost 20%.[16]

Schmittou and team owners arrived at terms in June 1984 to purchase the Evansville Triplets of the American Association, with plans to move the franchise from Evansville, Indiana, to Nashville for the 1985 season. In order to prove to the team's Nashville banks, which would back the purchase, that the move was financially viable, Schmittou commissioned a survey to evaluate the potential turnout for a Triple-A team versus a Double-A team. Though the research proved to team owners that the move was a sensible decision, the banks were not impressed. As a result, the team switched banks and went ahead with the purchase and relocation.[16] Nashville's existing Southern League franchise was moved to Huntsville, Alabama, where it became the Huntsville Stars. The Triplets' legacy was retired, and the team was moved to Nashville. The Triple-A Sounds carried on the history of the Double-A team that preceded it.

The Sounds entered the Triple-A playing level as affiliates of the Detroit Tigers in 1985. On July 17, Bryan Kelly pitched the club's second no-hitter against the Oklahoma City 89ers, a 6–0 win.[15] Nashville ended the season in second place in the Eastern Division, two and a half games out of first.[17]

In 1986, Nashville finished third in their division with a 68–74 regular season record,[18] their first losing season since the inaugural 1978 campaign. Also that season, the Sounds were enlisted to serve as the competition in the Southern League All-Star Game, held in Huntsville, Alabama. The game was won by Nashville with a score of four runs to two.[9]

Reds era, part II (1987–1992)[edit]

The Sounds rejoined the Cincinnati Reds farm system in 1987, this time as their Triple-A affiliate. As a result, a number of minor leaguers played in the Reds organization at two different levels with Nashville. Spending the beginning of the 1987 season around the top of the standings, the team hit a slump after losing a few key players mid-season. The result was a 64–76 record and a last place finish.[19] One player lost due to injuries was third baseman Chris Sabo. Sabo was promoted to Cincinnati and was also named the National League Rookie of the Year in 1988, a first for any former Sounds player.[20]

A man wearing a white baseball uniform and a red cap with a white "C" on it winds up to throw a baseball from the mound
Rob Dibble played as a relief pitcher for Nashville from 1987 and 1988.

The 1988 Sounds were in last-place and had a losing record until making numerous management changes late in the season. During a two-week period in July and August 1988, the Sounds went through five different managers. The team started the season with Jack Lind, who left due to health problems.[21] His position was filled on an interim basis by pitching coach Wayne Garland until former manager George Scherger, manager of the 1979 Southern League championship Sounds, was brought in. He retired after one game and was replaced by Jim Hoff, who stayed a few days before taking up a position with the Reds' front office.[21] Finally, former Texas Rangers manager Frank Lucchesi was hired to lead the Sounds for the rest of the season.[21] Lucchesi managed the team's last 39 games, leading them to a final record of 73–69.[22] They finished second in the East Division and were out of the playoffs.[22]

Greer Stadium was home to a rare baseball occurrence on August 6 and August 7, 1988, when Nashville and the Indianapolis Indians exchanged no-hitters on back-to-back nights. First, Indianapolis' Randy Johnson and Pat Pacillo combined for a no-hit loss against the Sounds, a 1–0 Nashville win.[23] The next night, Nashville's Jack Armstrong registered a no-hit game against the Indians, a 4–0 Sounds victory. This was the third no-hitter ever pitched by a member of the Sounds.[23]

After finishing in third-place with a 74–72 record in 1989,[24] the Sounds returned in 1990 to experience their most successful season as a part of the American Association, when they compiled an 86–61 record.[25] Finishing the regular season in a tie with the Buffalo Bisons, the Sounds won the Eastern Division championship in a one-game playoff. The extra-inning affair was ended by Chris Jones' two-run homer in the top of the eighteenth inning. The Sounds advanced to their first American Association championship series, where they lost to the Omaha Royals three games to two. That year, Nashville set their all-time attendance record when a total of 605,122 fans came out to Greer Stadium.[26]

In 1991, the Sounds started the year in first-place, where they remained for only ten days. By May 1, the team had fallen into third-place in the Eastern Division, where they remained for the rest of the season. Nashville posted a losing record every month during the season and finished the year 16 games behind the first-place Buffalo Bisons. First baseman Terry Lee, who led the Sounds in hits, RBI, runs, and home runs, was selected for the mid-season Triple-A All-Star Game and the league's post-season All-Star Team.[27] The following year was Nashville's last as a Reds affiliate. The team posted a 67–77 record, winding up in fourth-place and out of the post-season picture.[28]

White Sox era (1993–1997)[edit]

A man wearing a white baseball uniform with a navy blue "D" on the chest, a navy blue cap bearing a white "D", and a baseball glove stands on a baseball field
Magglio Ordóñez played outfield for the Sounds in 1997.

Nashville switched affiliations again in 1993, this time becoming the top farm club of the Chicago White Sox. In addition to a new affiliation, the 1993 season also brought the addition of Greer Stadium's signature guitar-shaped scoreboard. In their first year with the White Sox, the Sounds clinched the East Division title with an 81–62 record.[29] In the league championship series, the Iowa Cubs defeated the Sounds in extra innings in game seven. Nashville's Rick Renick was named the American Association Manager of the Year.[30]

The Sounds shared their ballpark with the Southern League's Nashville Xpress, previously known as the Charlotte Knights, during the 1993 and 1994 seasons. This came about when Charlotte acquired a Triple-A expansion franchise in 1993, leaving the city's Double-A team without a home. Sounds owner Larry Schmittou offered Greer Stadium as a temporary home for the team. In order to accommodate an additional team at Greer, the Xpress scheduled its home games during the Sounds' road trips. Baseball America ranked the dual Nashville teams as number one on its list of the "top 10 happenings in minor league baseball."[31] In 1995, the Xpress relocated to Wilmington, North Carolina and became the Port City Roosters.

In 1994, the Sounds earned an 83–61 record.[32] They also made their second consecutive appearance in the league's championship series. In the first round, Nashville swept the New Orleans Zephyrs in three straight games to advance to the league finals. In the best-of-five series, the Indianapolis Indians defeated the Sounds three games to one.[33] Nashville hosted the mid-season Triple-A All-Star Game in 1994. Sounds players Ray Durham, Drew Denson, and Scott Ruffcorn were selected for the event, however Ruffcorn was later placed on the disabled list and replaced by Steve Schrenk. Durham won the "Stars of Stars" award, recognizing him as the most valuable All-Star representing the American Association.[34]

The Sounds compiled a 68–76 record, 20 games out of first-place, in 1995.[35] Originally, Michael Jordan, who played with the White Sox's Double-A Birmingham Barons in 1994, was signed to play the 1995 season as a non-drafted free agent for the Sounds. However, with the ongoing MLB strike, Jordan decided to quit the sport rather than becoming a replacement player and being labeled a strikebreaker.[36]

The team improved their record in 1996, ending up with 77 wins and 67 losses.[37] Despite a decent winning percentage, Nashville failed to secure a spot in the playoffs. Manager Rick Renick earned the league's Manager of the Year award, and pitcher Scott Ruffcorn lead the league with thirteen wins. This season marked the last that Larry Schmittou was the team's principal owner. With the city prepared to welcome a National Football League franchise, the Tennessee Titans, Schmittou felt that revenue would be drawn away from his baseball team. He sold his entire financial interest in the Sounds to Al Gordon, president of AmeriSports Companies LLC.[5] The following year, Nashville put together a 74–68 season,[38] again failing to win either half of the season, leaving them out of the post-season. In addition to being selected for both the mid-season and post-season All-Star teams, outfielder Magglio Ordóñez garnered the league's Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player awards.[30]

Pirates era (1998–2004)[edit]

A man wearing a gray baseball uniform with the name "Sanchez" and the number "12" on the back, a black cap bearing, and a baseball glove stands on a baseball field
Freddy Sanchez played second base and shortstop for Nashville in 2003 and 2004.

Following the 1997 season, the American Association, of which the Sounds were a member, disbanded, and its teams were absorbed by one of the two remaining Triple-A leagues. As a result, Nashville joined the Pacific Coast League (PCL). The franchise also picked up a new major league affiliation, becoming the top farm club of the Pittsburgh Pirates. For the first time since the team's foundation in 1978, the Sounds adopted a new logo, color scheme, and uniforms which were phased-in over the course of their first two years in the PCL.

In 1998, the team's first season as a Pirates affiliate, the Sounds finished last in the division with a 67–76 record.[39] Improving from the previous year, the 1999 team put together an 80–60 record,[40] but their second-place finish left them out of the post-season picture. Sounds second baseman Matt Howard led the league in fielding percentage (.982) and fewest strikeouts per plate appearance (1:18.2). Pitcher Jimmy Anderson led the PCL in winning percentage (.846, 11–2).[41]

Nashville finished with a 63–79 record, resulting in a last-place finish in the 2000 divisional standings.[42] Former All-Star Sounds infielder Marty Brown returned to the club to serve as its 25th manager in 2001, becoming the first former Nashville player to serve as the team's skipper. The Sounds compiled a 64–77 record, putting them in third-place and out of the playoffs.[43] Outfielder Tike Redman tied Iowa's Ross Gload with a league-leading 10 triples.[44] On June 30, Redman became the first Sounds player to hit for the cycle.[45] The Sounds scored a third-place divisional finish with a 72–71 record in 2002.[46]

On April 7, 2003, right-hander John Wasdin pitched the first perfect game in Nashville Sounds history in his first start of the season against the Albuquerque Isotopes.[47] The 4–0 Sounds win was only the second nine-inning perfect game in PCL history.[48] That year, manager Trent Jewett led the Sounds to an 81–62 record.[49] They clinched the Eastern Division title, giving them their first post-season berth as a member of the Pacific Coast League. Nashville met Albuquerque in the American Conference championship series, defeating them three games to one. They went on to lose the best-of-five league championship series in three straight games to the Sacramento River Cats.

The franchise completed the 2004 campaign with a 63–79 record, finishing last in the division.[50] Early in the season, Jason Bay played four games in Nashville before being promoted to Pittsburgh. Following the season, he was named the National League Rookie of the Year. This made him the second former player from Nashville to receive such honors.[20] On May 21, 2004, catcher J. R. House became the second Sounds player (Tike Redman first in 2001) to hit for the cycle.[51]

Brewers era (2005–present)[edit]

The Sounds changed affiliates in 2005, welcoming the Milwaukee Brewers as their sixth different major league franchise. Coincidentally, the major/minor league sports connection between Nashville and Milwaukee is duplicated, but with reverse roles, in ice hockey, as the Milwaukee Admirals have been the top-level minor league affiliate of the National Hockey League's Nashville Predators since 1998.[52] The Sounds' new affiliation started well as the club captured the 2005 Pacific Coast League championship, Nashville's first professional title since the Sounds' previous league crown in 1982. Managed by Frank Kremblas and featuring top prospects such as Rickie Weeks, Prince Fielder, Nelson Cruz, and Corey Hart, the Sounds won the American North Division title on the second-to-last day of the season. In the conference championship, Nashville defeated the Oklahoma RedHawks three games to two. The Sounds went on to defeat the Tacoma Rainiers in three straight games to capture the league title.[53]

On July 15, 2006, Nashville pitchers Carlos Villanueva, Mike Meyers, and Alec Zumwalt combined to pitch the fifth no-hitter in team history, a 2–0 win over the Memphis Redbirds.[54] On May 5–6, the Sounds participated in a 24-inning game against the New Orleans Zephyrs. The contest, played over the course of two days, lasted a total of eight hours and seven minutes. This game matched the longest game, in terms of innings played, in PCL history.[55] Additionally, several team and league records were broken by both teams. The record was originally set on June 8, 1909 in a game between the San Francisco Seals and Oakland Oaks. A few years later, on September 10, 1911, the record was tied by a contest between the Sacramento Solons and Portland Beavers.[55] The Sounds finished the season with a 76–68 record, tied with the Iowa Cubs for first-place in the American North Division.[56] Nashville won the division title and advanced to the post-season by means of a tiebreaker (winning the regular season series versus Iowa nine games to seven). In the conference championship series, Nashville lost to the Round Rock Express, three games to two.[57]

A man wearing a navy blue Brewers jersey, gray pants, navy blue cap, and outfielder's glove on his left hand walking in the outfield.
Ryan Braun played third base for the Sounds in 2007.

The 2007 Sounds featured top Brewers prospects Yovani Gallardo and Ryan Braun, both of whom were promoted to Milwaukee during the season. Braun, who made his major league debut on May 25, was named National League Rookie of the Year following the season, making him the third former Sounds player to receive this honor.[20] On June 25, Manny Parra pitched the club's second perfect game, only the third nine-inning perfect game in PCL history, against the Round Rock Express;[3] he was promoted to the Brewers shortly thereafter. The team, led by PCL Manager of the Year Frank Kremblas, captured the American North Division title for the third straight year and finished the season with a league best .618 winning percentage (89–55).[58] In the conference championship series, they were defeated by the New Orleans Zephyrs, three games to one.[59]

On June 14, 2008, following massive flooding in the Midwest, the Sounds and the Iowa Cubs played a game with an official attendance of zero.[60] Though downtown Des Moines was under a mandatory evacuation, team officials received permission from the city to play the game as long as no fans were allowed into Principal Park. In order to keep fans away, the lights and scoreboard were not turned on, the game was not broadcast in the local market, and a message on the team's website announced that the game was postponed. PCL Commissioner Branch Rickey III believed that this was the first time such actions were taken out of necessity.[60] The Sounds were further affected by weather when Hurricane Gustav forced the cancellation of the last three games of their season against the New Orleans Zephyrs.[61] The team spent all but one day of the season at the bottom of the divisional standings. Their 59–81 record (.421) is the second-worst in the team's history.[62]

On October 30, 2008, Amerisports Companies LLC entered into an agreement to sell the Sounds to MFP Baseball, a New York-based group of investors consisting of Masahiro Honzawa, Steve Posner, and Frank Ward. George King, PCL Vice President of Business and Operations, said that keeping the team in Nashville was one of the league's top criteria for approval of the sale.[63] The transaction received final approval from Major League Baseball and the PCL on February 26, 2009.[64] Though significant renovations were made to Greer Stadium, MFP continues to explore building a new downtown ballpark for the club, which will remain in Nashville.[64][65] King was later selected to be the franchise's new general manager.[64]

Rebounding from the worst record in franchise history in 2008, the 2009 Sounds achieved a 75–69 record under new manager Don Money.[66] Despite a winning record and spending the majority of the season in first-place, the Sounds finished the season two games behind their cross-state rivals, and eventual league champions, the Memphis Redbirds. The team featured top-prospects Alcides Escobar and Mat Gamel.

The 2010 season proved to be reminiscent of the previous campaign. Though Nashville finished the year with a winning 77–67 record, it was only good enough to place fourth (last) in the division.[67]

Sounds right fielder Caleb Gindl became the third player in team history to hit for the cycle when he accomplished the feat on July 10, 2011.[68] Center fielder Logan Schafer garnered national media attention when he initiated a triple play on August 20 against the Omaha Storm Chasers.[69][70] What made the rare occurrence even more unusual is that the ball first bounced off Schafer's glove and head before landing in his glove for the first out. He then returned the ball to the infield where second baseman Eric Farris and first baseman Mat Gamel completed the triple play by stepping on their respective bases.[71] Nashville ended the year with a 71–73 record, placing third in their division.[72]

The Sounds finished the 2012 season in second place with a losing 67–77 record under new manager Mike Guerrero.[73] Following the completion of the season, the Brewers extended their player development contract, a working agreement between a major and minor league baseball team, with the Sounds through the 2014 season.[74]

Nashville set a franchise record low win–loss record in 2013. The 57–87 season eclipsed the previous franchise record (59–81) set in 2008.[75] Despite this performance, pitcher Johnny Hellweg won the PCL Pitcher of the Year award, was named to the PCL post-season All-Star Team, and led the league in winning percentage and opponents' batting average.[75][76]

As part of a PCL realignment plan, Nashville will move from the American Conference's North Division to the conference's South Division beginning in 2014.[77] The Sounds' new divisional opponents are the Memphis Redbirds, New Orleans Zephyrs, and Round Rock Express. Darnell Coles, who played for the Sounds in 1992, was selected to be the team's new manager beginning in 2014, but he later accepted a position as the Detroit Tigers' assistant hitting coach.[78] Veteran minor league manager Rick Sweet was later named as the Sounds' new manager for 2014.[79] Also during the offseason, the Sounds, Metro, and the State of Tennessee entered into an agreement to build a new $37 million ballpark to replace Greer Stadium at the beginning of the 2015 season.[80] First Tennessee Park is being built in the same area as the former site of Sulphur Dell.[81][80]

Season-by-season results[edit]

Nashville Sounds 5-Year History
Year Regular Season Post-season
Record Win % League Division GB Record Win % Result
2009 75–69 .521 5th 2nd 2
2010 77–67 .535 5th 4th 5
2011 71–73 .496 t-6th 3rd 9
2012 67–77 .465 12th 2nd 16
2013 57–87 .396 16th 4th 13
5-Year Totals 347–373 .482 0 division titles, 0 conference titles, and 0 league titles

Rivals[edit]

Nashville vs. Memphis Timeline
Year(s) League Nashville Memphis
1885 Southern League Americans Reds
1886 Southern Association Grays
1887 Southern League Blues Browns
1893 Southern Association Tigers Fever Germs
1894 Giants
1895 Seraphs
1901–08 Volunteers/Vols Egyptians
1909–11 Turtles
1912–60 Chickasaws
1978–84 Southern League Sounds Chicks
1998–present Pacific Coast League (PCL) Redbirds

Nashville's chief rival in minor league baseball lies in that of Memphis, Tennessee. Located approximately 200 miles (320 km) to the south east and connected to Nashville by Interstate 40, Memphis has fielded several teams which have competed in the same leagues as Nashville's teams from as early as 1885.

The Nashville Americans, the city's first professional team, played with the Memphis Reds in 1885.[82] In 1886, the Americans competed against the Memphis Grays.[83] The Nashville Blues played against the Memphis Browns in 1887.[84] The Nashville Tigers competed with the Memphis Fever Germs in 1893 and the Memphis Giants in 1894.[85][86] In 1895, the Nashville Seraphs played with the Giants.[87] In 1920 and from 1930 to 1932, the Negro league Nashville Standard Giants/Elite Giants competed in the sames leagues with the Memphis Red Sox.[88][89] From 1901 to 1960, the Nashville Vols faced competition in the Memphis Egyptians (1901–1908),[90] Memphis Turtles (1909–1911),[91] and Memphis Chickasaws (1912–1960).[92]

After 60 continuous years of minor league baseball games being played between Memphis and Nashville, a lapse occurred in the rivalry from 1961 to 1977. Competition resumed when the Nashville Sounds were established as an expansion franchise in the Southern League in 1978.[93] The Sounds played in the West Division against the Memphis Chicks. In 1979, the Chicks won the first half of the division and the Sounds won the second half. In the best-of-three division finals, the Sounds defeated the Chicks in two out of three games before going on to win the Southern League Championship.[94] Memphis and Nashville each won the first and second halves, respectively, of 1980 season. This time, however, Memphis won the Western Division title, defeating Nashville in three out of four games.[94] The Chicks eventually lost the league championship to the Charlotte O's. The teams met again under the same circumstances in 1981. The Sounds swept the Chicks in three straight games to win the Western Division finals, but lost the Southern League Championship series against the Orlando Twins.[94]

The interstate rivalry was interrupted again when Nashville moved to the American Association in 1985, but was renewed when the Sounds joined the Pacific Coast League in 1998.[95] The Sounds and Redbirds were division rivals in the American Conference - East Division from 1998 to 2004,[95] the American Conference - North Division from 2005 to 2013,[96] and the American Conference - South Division from 2014.[97] In 2009, Memphis clinched the American Conference - North Division title, finishing the season just two games ahead of Nashville which spent the majority of the season in first place. The Chicks went on to win the Pacific Coast League Championship.[98]

As of the completion of the 2013 series, Memphis leads the all-time series against Nashville with a record of 881–856.[99] This record encompasses all 89 years of competition in the Old Southern League, Southern Association, Southern League, and Pacific Coast League. Nashville, however, leads the all-time PCL series with a record of 140–118.[100] In 2012, the two teams established the Tennessee Lottery I-40 Cup Series, a season-long, 16-game series between the clubs.[100] Whichever of the two wins most games played between them is declared the winner and gets to keep the trophy cup until the next season. The losing team donates game tickets to a charity selected by the winner. The Sounds won the inaugural contest (9–7), and Memphis won the 2013 series (7–9).[100]

Ballparks[edit]

Herschel Greer Stadium[edit]

The Sounds' current, and only, ballpark is Herschel Greer Stadium. The venue has experienced numerous expansions and contractions since its completion in 1978,[101] and currently seats 10,300 spectators.[102] Its best known feature is its giant 115.6 foot (35.2 m) guitar-shaped scoreboard behind the left field wall.

In recent years, following the construction of newer, relatively luxurious minor league ballparks, Greer has fallen below standards set for Triple-A stadiums by professional baseball. It has been the subject of many renovations and upgrades in order to meet current Triple-A standards. Prior to the 2008 season, more than US$1 million in upgrades and repairs were made to the stadium.[103] The improvements, which included a new clubhouse, improved field lighting, and improvements to restrooms, walkways, and seating, were made in order to keep the stadium functional for another three to five years.[103]

On December 16, 2008, the Nashville Metro Council approved an up to five-year extension to Greer's lease. MFP Baseball, which purchased the Sounds in early 2009, invested over $2.5 million to make repairs and upgrades to the stadium's restrooms, concession stands, scoreboard, sound system, and seating.[104]

First Tennessee Park[edit]

Throughout the 2000s, the team attempted to gather approval and financing for a new ballpark to replace Greer Stadium.[105] Eventually, a new stadium, First Tennessee Field, was planned for construction on the west bank of the Cumberland River in downtown Nashville, just 2 miles (3.2 km) north of the current stadium. Disagreements over who would pay for the ballpark repeatedly pushed back opening day at the field, and eventually resulted in the cancellation of the project altogether.[106] In the meantime, numerous upgrades and repairs were made to Greer in order to preserve its functionality until a new stadium could be built.[103]

In late 2013, plans for a new ballpark were announced. First Tennessee Park will be constructed in downtown Nashville at the same location as the former Sulphur Dell ballpark.[107] Construction on the $37 million stadium began in January 2014 with a ceremonial groundbreaking led by Mayor Dean on January 27.[108] The city plans for the ballpark to be ready for Pacific Coast League opening day in April 2015.[80]

Uniforms[edit]

Nashville Sounds uniforms during the 2014 season

Jerseys and pants for home games are made of white fabric, while those for road games are made of gray fabric. The jerseys have a row of buttons going up the chest. There are black underarm sections at the armpits and a single line of black piping going down the sleeves and across the shoulders to the neck. A Milwaukee Brewers logo is sewn on the left sleeve. On home jerseys, the word "Sounds" is written across the chest in red script surrounded by black. The player's name is displayed on the back in black block characters; numbers are also shown in large red characters surrounded by black. Road jerseys are the same, but with "Nashville" across the chest in the same style and red underarm sections and sleeve piping in place of black. Road jerseys lack the player's name on the back. The official home and road caps are black with the red and white music note logo centered on the front.[109]

The team's alternate uniforms are almost identical to the home outfit. These jerseys are made of red material with black underarm sections and sleeve piping. "Sounds" is written across the chest in white script surrounded by black. The Brewers logo is located on the front of the left shoulder. Numbers, in white surrounded by black, are sewn on the back in block characters.[110] The alternate uniform is worn with the regular home/road black cap.[110]

In conjunction with "Throwback Thursday" promotions which began in 2010, the Sounds wear uniforms reminiscent of those the team wore in the late-1970s and 1980s. The short-sleeved button up jerseys are made of blue fabric with red and white stripes at the sleeve and neck openings. The word "Sounds" is written across the chest in white music note-like script with a red border. The backs of jerseys display the player's name, sewn in white letters, and their number, sewn in white characters with a red border. The left sleeve features a patch of the team's original guitar-swinger logo. High pants, with red, white, and blue pin striping down the sides, are worn with blue belts and socks. The team cap is solid blue with an "N" styled like a music note in white, bordered by red, on the front.[111]

Past[edit]

Originally, the team's color scheme consisted of red, white, and blue. Uniforms utilizing this palate were worn from 1978 to 1998. During this time, the team wore two major styles of uniforms: pullover jerseys and button up jerseys. Each of these styles experienced a number of minor design alterations from season to season.

The pullover v-neck jerseys, worn by the team from 1978 to 1986, were made of white fabric, for home games, and red or blue, for road games or as alternates. They carried bands of red, white, and blue around the neck, with larger bands at the end of the sleeves (the blue version had one thin white band and two large red bands). The team's pants were white and also displayed these stripes along the sides (small stripes) and at the waistband (large stripes). The word "Sounds" was written across the chest in two-color music note-like script. Numbers were sewn on the back of jerseys.[112] Beginning circa 1985, numbers were also located on the front of jerseys on the player's left chest, below the team name.[113] The team wore a blue cap with red brim, displaying an "N" styled like a music note in white, bordered by red; this was the official team cap from 1978 to 1995.[113]

From 1987 to 1998, the team's uniforms featured button up jerseys made of white fabric, for home games, and gray, for road games. Small bands of red, white, and blue appeared at the openings of the sleeves and along the sides of the team's pants. The word "Sounds" was written across the chest in blue music note-like script, with a red border; the font was changed briefly from 1987 to 1988. Numbers were present on the front of jerseys below the team name on the player's left chest in blue block characters surrounded by red.[114] The back of the jersey carried the player's number; during some years, names were also present. Road jerseys had "Nashville" written across the chest and were missing the tri-color bands.[114] The original cap was worn with this uniform until 1995 when the bill was changed to blue and the guitar-swinger logo was added to accompany the "N."[115]

The team switched to its current black, red, and white color scheme over the course of the 1998 and 1999 seasons.[116] In the latter season, uniforms consisted of pinstriped pants and jerseys, with black sleeves carrying a music note logo on the left sleeve.[114] By 2004, the team switched to solid white pants and jerseys for home games. These jerseys had "Sounds" written across the chest in red script surrounded by black, had red and black piping around sleeve openings, around the neck, and along the row of buttons going up the chest, a music note logo on the left sleeve, and numbers on the front of jerseys below the team name.[117] Pants had the same piping going down the legs on the outside. In 2006, the jerseys lost their sleeves and the player's number from the chest. Players wore these vest-like jerseys over black t-shirts of varying sleeve lengths.[118] Player's names were written on the back in black block characters; numbers were also displayed in large red characters surrounded by black. Road jerseys initially bared "Sounds" across the chest, but were later changed to "Nashville"; these lacked the player's name on the back. A Milwaukee Brewers logo was added to the front left shoulder in 2007. The official home and road caps were black with the red and white music note logo centered on the front.[118]

Past Nashville Sounds Uniforms
Southern League
(1978–84) 
American Association
(1985–1997) 
Pacific Coast League
(1998–present) 

Radio and television[edit]

During the opening season of 1978, Nashville Sounds games were broadcast on WMTS 96.3 FM by announcer and station owner, Monte Hale. He died following the inaugural season, after which Bob Jamison was hired for the 1979 season. Nashville-native and future sports talk show host George Plaster served as a color commentator from 1980 to 1981 and 1985 to 1986. Jamison remained the voice of the Sounds through 1990 when he was hired as the radio broadcaster for the California Angels. For the 1991 season, the Sounds hired former Huntsville Stars and Iowa Cubs broadcaster Steve Carroll. After 1995, Carroll left to become the radio voice of the NHL's Philadelphia Flyers and, later, the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.

Steve Selby served as the voice of the Sounds from 1996 to 1999. He was joined on-air by fellow commentator Mike Capps for the 1997 season. Chuck Valenches replaced Capps as the assistant broadcaster in 1998 and was promoted to the role of lead broadcaster at the beginning of 2000. Stu Paul became the Sounds' play-by-play broadcaster for the 2010 and 2011 seasons.[119] Jeff Hem has been the team's lead broadcaster since the 2012 season.[120] As of 2014, all Sounds home and road games are broadcast on WPRT 102.5 FM, or are simulcast on WQZQ 94.9 FM.[120] All games are broadcast online via webcast on the team's website.[120]

Sounds home games were regularly televised by WZTV from 1982 to 1992. A few games were also aired by WNPX in 1999.[121] As of 2013, Sounds games are not broadcast on television. However, all games are streamed through the MiLB.TV subscription feature of the official website of Minor League Baseball, with audio provided by a radio simulcast. From 2005 to 2008,[122] a monthly television program, called Sounds On Demand, aired throughout Middle Tennessee on Comcast cable channel 49, and was also available "On Demand" through Comcast Digital Cable programming.[122] The 30-minute show, hosted by Chuck Valenches, featured player interviews, team news, tips from players on how to play the game, and other related content.[122]

Mascots[edit]

A person wearing a yellow anthropomorphized cougar costume, in which only the head and arms are visible, and dressed in a white baseball uniform with "Sounds" written across the chest in red letters dances on a baseball field
Ozzie, mascot of the Nashville Sounds

The Nashville Sounds' mascot is an anthropomorphic cougar named Ozzie. He has yellow fur and wears the same style of uniform as the team, but with no hat. In addition to the team's current home and alternate uniforms, he also wears Sounds home uniforms from the past few seasons. Ozzie has been the team's mascot since 1997.

The first Sounds mascot was introduced during the team's inaugural 1978 season. Homer Horsehide, whose name was selected in a naming contest, resembled their major league affiliate's mascot — Mr. Red of the Cincinnati Reds. The character was human in appearance, with the exception of an oversized anthropomorphized baseball in place of a human head. The mustachioed mascot donned a uniform identical to that of Sounds players.[123]

Prior to Ozzie, a lime-green dinosaur named Champ was the team's mascot.[124] His short-lived time as a mascot began in 1995 and ended in 1996. Following altercations with team management and league personnel during games, Champ, vis-à-vis his performer, did not return for the 1997 season.[125]

When Amerisports Companies LLC took control of the team in April 1997, they decided that a mascot was needed. Since the group also owned the Class A Kane County Cougars minor league team, which had an extra mascot uniform, the surplus cougar outfit was sent to Nashville. After building a fan following during Ozzie's first season, team management decided to make him the permanent mascot.[126] Initially, the Ozzie costume was identical to the brown cougar costume which is still in use by Kane County, but was replaced by the current yellow outfit in 1998.

Faith Nights[edit]

A bobblehead depicting an unhappy bearded man wearing a yellow and blue robe and hat holding a sign reading, "Nineveh or bust"
An example of a bobblehead, depicting Jonah, given to fans in 2006

In addition to promotions that are synonymous with minor league baseball like giveaways, theme nights, fireworks nights, and discounted ticket or concessions nights, the Nashville Sounds also host what are called Faith Nights. In 2002, the Sounds became the first sports team to host Faith Night promotions.[127] These Christian-based promotional evenings include pre-game concerts from Christian music artists, Bible-themed bobblehead giveaways, and testimonials from players about their faith. Artists performing at Nashville's Greer Stadium in the past include Jars of Clay, Hawk Nelson, and Matthew West. Brent High, then Vice President of Sales for the Sounds, and Mike Snider, the president and owner of Third Coast Sports, an entertainment and sports marketing firm in Nashville, are credited with developing the promotion.[128]

Since their inception, Faith Nights have been among the top-ten most-attended games each season.[129] During Faith Nights in 2004, the Sounds experienced a 93% increase in attendance over their average season attendance for non-Faith Night dates; over 500 church groups attended these games.[128] That fall, the team partnered with the Nashville Area Habitat for Humanity to build a home for a family in need. The team raised more than $45,000 from donations and 10% of ticket proceeds on Faith Nights.[130]

The promotion has since been adopted by at least 40 other minor league teams. It has also been used by major league teams such as the Atlanta Braves and St. Louis Cardinals. Teams from the National Football League and National Basketball Association have also shown interest in holding Faith Night promotions.[129] The program has garnered national media attention for the Sounds from The New York Times and National Public Radio.[129][131]

Roster[edit]

For a complete list of all-time Sounds players, see Nashville Sounds all-time roster.
Nashville Sounds roster
Players Coaches/Other

Pitchers

Catchers

Infielders

Outfielders

Manager

Coaches

  • 55 Fred Dabney (pitching)
  • 22 Bob Skube (hitting)


Injury icon 2.svg 7-day disabled list
* On Milwaukee Brewers 40-man roster
∞ Reserve list
§ Suspended list
‡ Restricted list
# Rehab assignment
Roster updated April 22, 2014
Transactions · Coaching staff
More MiLB rosters
Milwaukee Brewers minor league players

Retired numbers[edit]

Nashville has honored two of its players by retiring their uniform numbers. When a number is retired, only the player with the retired number can wear that number if he returns to that team as a player or coach. This ensures that the number will be associated with one player of particular importance to the team.

NashvilleSoundsRetired00.PNG NashvilleSoundsRetired18.PNG NashvilleSoundsRetired42.PNG
Skeeter Barnes Don Mattingly Jackie Robinson
1B / 3B / OF
1979, 1988–1990
Retired early 1990s
1B / OF
1981
Retired August 12, 1999
Retired throughout
professional baseball
on April 15, 1997

Hall of Famers[edit]

Two people associated with the Sounds have been elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Hoyt Wilhelm, who served as the team's pitching coach from 1982 to 1984,[132] was elected in 1985.[133] Shortstop Barry Larkin, who was elected in 2012,[134] made two appearances with the Sounds during a rehabilitation assignment in 1989.[135]

Managers[edit]

For a complete list of all-time Sounds managers and owners, see List of Nashville Sounds managers and owners.
Nashville Sounds Managerial Record (Last Five Managers)
# Manager Years Regular Season Post-season
Games Wins Losses Win % Appearances Wins Losses Win %
20 Marty Brown 2001–2002 284 136 148 .479
18[a] Trent Jewett 2003–2004 285 144 141 .505 1 3 4 .429
21 Frank Kremblas 2005–2008 572 299 273 .523 3 9 8 .529
22 Don Money 2009–2011 432 223 209 .516
23 Mike Guerrero 2012–2013 288 124 164 .431
Totals 1,861 926 935 .498 4 12 12 .500
a Jewett previously managed from 1998 to 2000.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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