Founded in 1884
|Previous||Class B (1885–1886)|
|Minor league affiliations|
|Southern League (1885–1886)|
|Major league affiliations|
|Minor league titles|
|Nickname||Nashville Americans (1884–1886)|
The Nashville Americans were a minor league baseball team that played in the Class B Southern League from 1885 to 1886. They were located in Nashville, Tennessee, and played their home games at Athletic Park. Formed in late 1884, the team played a series of exhibition games that autumn at Nashville's fairgrounds. The Americans were Nashville's first professional baseball team and were named for the Nashville Daily American newspaper which published accounts of their games.
1884 Formation and exhibitions
A group of stockholders assembled in late 1884 for the purpose of creating a professional baseball team in Nashville, the city's first. The newly formed team's nickname, Americans, was chosen in honor of the Nashville Daily American newspaper which would publish accounts of the team's games. Will Bryan, a local amateur baseball player, was responsible for hiring players and was elected manager of the team.
The Americans, who were not yet members of any organized league, played their first exhibition game against the major league Cincinnati Outlaw Reds of the Union Association, a league which Nashville sought to join, on October 10 at the Nashville fairgrounds. Nashville's nine was composed of pitcher Norm Baker, catcher Lang, first baseman Dan Collins, second baseman/player-manager Will Bryan, third baseman John Reccius, shortstop Meyers, left fielder John Rhue, center fielder Hungier, and right fielder Tony Hellman. Approximately 1,250 to 1,500 people watched Nashville lose its first professional baseball game by a score of 6–3. Cincinnati also defeated Nashville, 11–2, in the next day's competition. After it was determined that the Americans would not be admitted to the Union Association for the 1885 season, a team from Georgetown replaced the Outlaw Reds for the final game of the three-game series, defeating the home team, 4–1.
Nashville bolstered its roster after this series of defeats, adding Lefty Marr, Ollie Beard, and Billy Crowell. The team scheduled later games to be played in 1884 against Georgetown, the Cincinnati Red Stockings (American Association), the Dayton Gem Citys (Ohio State League), the Kansas City Unions (Union Association), and the Louisville Eclipse (American Association).
In 1885, the Nashville Americans were admitted as charter members of the newly formed Class B Southern League. The 8-team circuit also included the Atlanta Atlantas, Augusta Browns, Chattanooga Lookouts, Columbus Stars, Memphis Reds, and teams from Birmingham and Macon. The Americans played their home games at Athletic Park, which would later come to be known as Sulphur Dell. The team was managed by player-managers Will Bryan, Nate Kellogg, and Ollie Beard at different times throughout the season.
Nashville's opening day roster consisted of pitcher Alex Voss, catcher Tony Hellman, first baseman Len Sowders, second baseman John Cullen, third baseman James Hillery, shortstop Joe Werrick, left fielder George Rhue, center fielder Joseph Deistel, and right fielder/player-manager Will Bryan.
Prior to the start of the season, Nashville hosted the Chicago White Stockings for three weeks of spring training. Chicago competed in exhibition games against the Americans, local semi-pro clubs, and the Vanderbilt Commodores baseball team.
The Americans also played a series of exhibition games against teams in other minor leagues in preparation for the start of the season. On March 30, Nashville began an exhibition series on the road with a 4–8 loss to the Indianapolis Hoosiers of the Western League. The following day, the Hoosiers repeated with a 12–4 win. On April 1–2, Nashville faced off against the Cleveland Forest Citys, also of the Western League. The Americans won both games by scores of 15–17 and 3–2.
Nashville began its first season with a long road trip, playing against Macon, Augusta, and Birmingham, and accruing a 7–4 record in the process. The Americans played their first regular season home game on May 4 against the Columbus Stars. Len Sowders led off the first inning by reaching first base on an error. Batting second was James Hillery who made the team's first hit. John Cullen also reached base on an error. Joe Werrick later stepped up to the plate and hit a triple, scoring Hillery and Cullen. Those would be Nashville's only runs of the game, a 2–3 loss in front of the home crowd.
During a road trip to face the Atlanta Atlantas, on August 14, the teams were involved in a death as the result of rough play on the field. Atlanta's first baseman, Lewis Henke, hit the ball toward third base. The ball was fielded and thrown wildly to first. Henke collided with the head of Nashville's first baseman, Lefty Marr, and both men fell to the ground. The unconscious Henke was taken to a local hospital where doctors diagnosed him with a ruptured liver, an injury which caused his death later that evening. To support his widow, the Southern League played benefit games in each city that fielded a team that season.
On August 29, a season-high 1,200 or more spectators attended a special "Ladies Day" game, in which ladies received free admission to the park, where the Americans defeated the Augusta Browns, 6–5. The final game of the season, a 4–1 loss to Augusta, was played on September 17.
The Americans returned to play in 1886. That year's Southern League teams included the new Charleston Seagulls, Memphis Grays, and a team from Savannah, as well as the returning Atlanta, Augusta, Chattanooga, and Macon clubs. Walt Goldsby, an outfielder, also served as Nashville's manager.
On March 18, Nashville put together an 8–0 shutout against the Memphis Grays. The next week, on March 23, the Americans defeated the American Association's Pittsburgh Alleghenys by a score of 13–6 in an exhibition game. Infielder Lefty Marr went 4-for-4 at the plate and participated in two double plays.
The American's final game was played on September 4. The contest against Savannah resulted in a 10–9 Nashville loss. Nashville ended the season with a 46–43 (.517) record, again putting them in third place. Lefty Marr, mirroring Len Sowders' feat from the previous season, was the league's batting champion with a .327 batting average.
- P Players are listed at a position if they appeared in 30% of their games or more during their Americans career, as defined by Baseball-Reference.com.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Nashville Americans.|
- Traughber, Bill (April 25, 2011). "Looking Back: The 1885 Nashville Americans". Nashville Sounds. Minor League Baseball. Retrieved January 30, 2015.
- Nipper, Skip (October 5, 2016). "First Nashville Professional Games in 1884". 262 Down Right. Retrieved October 10, 2016.
- "1885 Southern League Statistics". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved January 30, 2015.
- "1885 Nashville Americans Statistics". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved January 30, 2015.
- Traughber, Bill (May 8, 2006). "Looking Back: The 1885 Nashville Americans (Part 1 Of 2)". Nashville Sounds. Minor League Baseball. Retrieved October 15, 2008.
- Nipper, Skip (April 7, 2016). "Opening at Home for the First Time". 262 Down Right. Retrieved April 9, 2016.
- Nipper, Skip (November 19, 2013). "The Gloomy Side of Nashville Baseball". 262 Down Right. Retrieved January 30, 2015.
- "Reach's Official Base Ball Guide for 1892". A. J. Reach Co. 1892. p. 50. Retrieved February 4, 2015.
- O'Neal, Bill (1994), The Southern League: Baseball in Dixie, 1885–1994, Eakin Press, p. 8, ISBN 0890159521
- Nipper, Skip (September 17, 2015). "It Happened on This Day: September 17". 262 Down Right. Retrieved May 14, 2016.
- "Timeline" (PDF). Southern Association Baseball. Retrieved January 31, 2015.
- "1896 Nashville Americans Statistics". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved January 30, 2015.
- "1896 Southern Association Statistics". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved January 30, 2015.
- "Nashville Baseball Timeline". Sulphur Dell. Retrieved October 10, 2008.
- Traughber, Bill (May 11, 2006). "Looking Back: The 1885 Nashville Americans (Part 2 of 2)". Nashville Sounds. Minor League Baseball. Retrieved March 21, 2008.
- "1887 Nashville Blues Statistics". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved January 30, 2015.