Nashville Americans

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Nashville Americans
Founded in 1884
Nashville, Tennessee
Nashville Americans 1880s logo.png
Team logo
PreviousClass B (1885–1886)
Minor league affiliations
Previous leagues
Southern League (1885–1886)
Major league affiliations
PreviousUnaffiliated (1884–1886)
Minor league titles
Pennants (0)None
Team data
NicknameNashville Americans (1884–1886)
  • Gray & red (1885)
  • Old gold & black (1886)
Nashville's uniforms were gray with red trim in 1885.[1]
The Americans wore uniforms of old gold with "Nashville" on the chest in 1886.[2]

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 the Nashville 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.

Team history[edit]

1884 Formation and exhibitions[edit]

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.[3]

The Americans, who were not yet members of any organized league, played their first exhibition game against Major League Baseball's 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 George 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 called the "Georgetowns" replaced the Outlaw Reds for the final game of the three-game series, defeating the home team, 4–1.[3]

Nashville bolstered its roster after this series of defeats, adding Lefty Marr, Ollie Beard, and Billy Crowell. The team scheduled additional games to be played in 1884 against the Georgetowns, Cincinnati Red Stockings (American Association), Dayton Gem Citys (Ohio State League), Kansas City Unions (Union Association), and Louisville Eclipse (American Association).[3]

1885 Season[edit]

The 1885 Nashville Americans

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.[4] 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.[5]

Nashville hosted the National League's Chicago White Stockings for three weeks of spring training in preparation for the championship season.[2] They also played a series of exhibition games against other minor league teams. On March 30, Nashville began an exhibition series on the road with an 8–4 loss to the Indianapolis Hoosiers of the Western League.[6] The following day, the Hoosiers repeated with a 12–4 win.[6] On April 1–2, The Americans faced off against the Cleveland Forest Citys, also of the Western League.[6] Nashville won both games by scores of 17–15 and 3–2.[6]

The Americans' 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.[2]

They began their first season with a long road trip, playing in Macon, Augusta, and Birmingham, accruing a 7–4 record in the process.[7] 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. After John Cullen also reached base on an error, Joe Werrick stepped up to the plate and hit a triple, scoring Hillery and Cullen. Those would be Nashville's only runs of the game, a 3–2 loss in front of the home crowd.[2]

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.[8] 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 from which he died later that evening.[9] To support his widow, the Southern League played benefit games in each of its teams' cities.[8]

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,[10] where the Americans defeated the Augusta Browns, 6–5.[2] The final game of the season, a 4–1 loss to Augusta, was played on September 17.[11]

Nashville finished their first season of play in third place with a 62–39 record.[12] Len Sowders was the league's first batting champion with a .309 batting average.[12]

1886 Season[edit]

The 1886 Nashville Americans

The Americans returned for a second season in 1886.[13] 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.[14] Walt Goldsby, an outfielder, also served as Nashville's manager.[13]

On March 18, Nashville put together an 8–0 shutout against the Memphis Grays.[15] 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.[15] Infielder Lefty Marr went 4-for-4 at the plate and took part in two double plays.[15]

The American's final game was played on September 4. The contest against Savannah resulted in a 10–9 Nashville loss.[16] They ended the season with a 46–43 record, and again placed third.[16] Lefty Marr, mirroring Len Sowders' feat from the previous season, was the league's batting champion with a .327 average.[12]

The American's did not return to play in 1887, instead the city fielded a Southern League team called the Nashville Blues.[17]

Season-by-season results[edit]

Year Wins Losses Win % GB Finish
1885[12] 62 39 .614 3rd
1886[12] 46 43 .517 16½ 3rd


Outfielder Lefty Marr (1885–1886)

Of the 32 men who played for the Americans, 24 also played for major league teams during their careers.[5][13]

Name Season(s) Position(s)[P] Major league experience
Norm Baker 1885–1886 Pitcher Pittsburgh Alleghenys (1883)
Louisville Colonels (1885)
Baltimore Orioles (1890)
Ollie Beard 1885–1886 Shortstop Cincinnati Red Stockings/Reds (1889–1890)
Louisville Colonels (1891)
Henry Bittman 1886 Second baseman
Will Bryan 1885 Center fielder
Tod Brynan 1886 Pitcher Chicago White Stockings (1888)
Boston Beaneaters (1891)
Billy Crowell 1885 Pitcher Cleveland Blues (1887–1888)
Louisville Colonels (1888)
John Cullen 1885 Left fielder Wilmington Quicksteps (1884)
Joseph Deistel 1885 Center fielder
Ed Dundon 1886 Pitcher Columbus Buckeyes (1883–1884)
Billy Earle 1886 Outfielder/Catcher Cincinnati Red Stockings (1889)
St. Louis Browns (1890)
Pittsburgh Pirates (1892–1893)
Louisville Colonels (1894)
Brooklyn Grooms (1894)
Bill Geiss 1885 Second baseman Baltimore Orioles (1882)
Detroit Wolverines (1884)
Walt Goldsby 1886 Outfielder St. Louis Browns (1884)
Washington Nationals (AA) (1884)
Richmond Virginians (1884)
Washington Nationals (NL) (1886)
Baltimore Orioles (1888)
Tony Hellman 1885–1886 Catcher Baltimore Orioles (1886)
James Hillery 1885–1886 Third baseman
Nate Kellogg 1885 Second baseman Detroit Wolverines (1885)
Charlie Krehmeyer 1886 Catcher/Outfielder St. Louis Browns (1884)
Louisville Colonels (1885)
St. Louis Maroons (1885)
Lefty Marr 1885–1886 Outfielder Cincinnati Red Stockings (1886)
Columbus Solons (1889)
Cincinnati Red Stockings (1890–1891)
Cincinnati Kelly's Killers (1891)
Ed McKean 1885 Second baseman Cleveland Blues/Spiders (1887–1898)
St. Louis Perfectos (1899)
George McVey 1886 Catcher Brooklyn Grays (1885)
John Murphy 1885 Left fielder
Billy O'Brien 1886 First baseman St. Paul Saints (1884)
Kansas City Cowboys (1884)
Washington Nationals (1887–1889)
Brooklyn Gladiators (1890)
George Rhue 1885 Left fielder
Arthur Saunders 1886 Pitcher/Outfielder
Al Schellhase 1886 Catcher Boston Beaneaters (1890)
Louisville Colonels (1891)
Gus Shallix 1885 Pitcher/Center fielder Cincinnati Red Stockings (1884–1885)
Mike Smith 1886 Pitcher/Outfielder Cincinnati Red Stockings/Reds (1886–1889, 1898–1900)
Pittsburgh Pirates (1892–1897, 1901)
New York Giants (1900)
Boston Beaneaters (1901)
John Sneed 1885 Right fielder Indianapolis Hoosiers (1884)
Toledo Maumees (1890)
Columbus Solons (1890–1891)
Len Sowders 1885–1886 First baseman/Outfielder Baltimore Orioles (1886)
Billy Taylor 1885–1886 Pitcher/First baseman Worcester Ruby Legs (1881)
Detroit Wolverines (1881)
Cleveland Blues (1881)
Pittsburgh Alleghenys (1882–1883)
St. Louis Maroons (1884)
Philadelphia Athletics (1885, 1887)
Baltimore Orioles (1886)
Alex Voss 1885 Pitcher/Outfielder Washington Nationals (1884)
Kansas City Cowboys (1884)
William Walton 1885 Pitcher/Outfielder
Joe Werrick 1885 Third baseman St. Paul Saints (1884)
Louisville Colonels (1886–1888)


  • P Players are listed at a position if they appeared in 30% of their games or more during their Americans career, as defined by


  1. ^ Nipper, Skip (March 30, 2018). "Nashville Baseball, Off and Running in 1885". 262 Down Right. Sulphur Dell. Retrieved March 31, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e Traughber, Bill (April 25, 2011). "Looking Back: The 1885 Nashville Americans". Nashville Sounds. Minor League Baseball. Retrieved January 30, 2015.
  3. ^ a b c Nipper, Skip (October 5, 2016). "First Nashville Professional Games in 1884". 262 Down Right. Retrieved October 10, 2016.
  4. ^ "1885 Southern League Statistics". Retrieved January 30, 2015.
  5. ^ a b "1885 Nashville Americans Statistics". Retrieved January 30, 2015.
  6. ^ a b c d Traughber, Bill (May 8, 2006). "Looking Back: The 1885 Nashville Americans (Part 1 Of 2)". Nashville Sounds. Minor League Baseball. Retrieved October 15, 2008.
  7. ^ Nipper, Skip (April 7, 2016). "Opening at Home for the First Time". 262 Down Right. Retrieved April 9, 2016.
  8. ^ a b Nipper, Skip (November 19, 2013). "The Gloomy Side of Nashville Baseball". 262 Down Right. Retrieved January 30, 2015.
  9. ^ "Reach's Official Base Ball Guide for 1892". A. J. Reach Co. 1892. p. 50. Retrieved February 4, 2015.
  10. ^ O'Neal, Bill (1994), The Southern League: Baseball in Dixie, 1885–1994, Eakin Press, p. 8, ISBN 0890159521
  11. ^ Nipper, Skip (September 17, 2015). "It Happened on This Day: September 17". 262 Down Right. Retrieved May 14, 2016.
  12. ^ a b c d e "Timeline" (PDF). Southern Association Baseball. Retrieved January 31, 2015.
  13. ^ a b c "1896 Nashville Americans Statistics". Retrieved January 30, 2015.
  14. ^ "1886 Southern Association Statistics". Retrieved January 30, 2015.
  15. ^ a b c "Nashville Baseball Timeline". Sulphur Dell. Retrieved October 10, 2008.
  16. ^ a b Traughber, Bill (May 11, 2006). "Looking Back: The 1885 Nashville Americans (Part 2 of 2)". Nashville Sounds. Minor League Baseball. Retrieved March 21, 2008.
  17. ^ "1887 Nashville Blues Statistics". Retrieved January 30, 2015.