Nashville Sounds

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Nashville Sounds
Founded in 1978
Nashville, Tennessee
NashvilleSoundsLogo.png NashvilleSoundsCapLogo.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 Southern Division
Previous leagues
Major league affiliations
Current Oakland Athletics (2015–present)
Previous
Minor league titles
League titles (3)
  • 1979
  • 1982
  • 2005
Conference titles (2)
  • 2003
  • 2005
Division titles (10)
  • 1979
  • 1981
  • 1982
  • 1990
  • 1993
  • 2003
  • 2005
  • 2006
  • 2007
  • 2016
Second half titles (6)
  • 1979
  • 1980
  • 1981
  • 1982
  • 1983
  • 1984
Team data
Nickname Nashville Sounds (1978–present)
Colors Black, red, platinum silver
              
Mascot Booster
Ballpark First Tennessee Park (2015–present)
Previous parks
Herschel Greer Stadium (1978–2014)
Owner(s)/
Operator(s)
MFP Baseball / Nashville Sounds Baseball Club
Manager Ryan Christenson
General Manager Adam Nuse
Media MiLB.TV and ALT 97.5 FM

The Nashville Sounds are a Minor League Baseball team of the Pacific Coast League (PCL) and the Triple-A affiliate of the Oakland Athletics. 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 First Tennessee Park which opened in 2015 and is partially located on the site of the historic Sulphur Dell ballpark. The Sounds previously played at Herschel Greer Stadium from its opening in 1978 until the end of the 2014 season.

Established as an expansion team of the Double-A Southern League in 1978, the Sounds were replaced by a Triple-A American Association team in 1985. The Triple-A Sounds carried on the history of the Double-A team that preceded it. The Sounds later joined the PCL in 1998. The team has served as a farm club for seven major league franchises. A total of 27 managers have led the club and its nearly 1,200 players. Through the 2017 season, the team has played in 5,726 regular season games and compiled a win–loss record of 2,945–2,781 (.514).[1]

The Sounds have reached the postseason on 14 occasions. They have won ten division titles, two conference titles, and three league championships. Most recently, they won the PCL championship in 2005 as the Triple-A affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers. Previous league titles won by the team are the Southern League championship 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. The team has an overall postseason record of 42–41 (.506).

The team fielded in 1980 was recognized as one of the 100 greatest minor league teams of all time. The 2006 team tied the record for the longest game in PCL history (24 innings). Of the three nine-inning perfect games in the history of the PCL, two have been pitched by members of the Sounds. In 2016, Forbes listed the Sounds as the 19th-most valuable Minor League Baseball team with a value of $30.5 million.[2]

History[edit]

Prior professional baseball in Nashville[edit]

Nashville has hosted Minor League Baseball teams since the late 19th century. The city's professional baseball history dates back to 1884 with the formation of the Nashville Americans who were charter members the original Southern League from 1885 to 1886 and played their home games at Athletic Park, later to be called Sulphur Dell.[3][4] This ballpark was the home of Nashville's minor league teams through 1963. In 1887, Nashville's Southern League team was called the Nashville Blues.[5] The Nashville Tigers competed for the city in the same league from 1893 to 1894.[5] In 1895, the Nashville Seraphs won the city's first professional championship in the Southern League.[5] The Nashville Centennials played in the Central League in 1897, but relocated to Henderson, Indiana, during the season before the league's collapse.[6]

The city's longest-operating baseball team, first known as only the Nashville Baseball Club and later nicknamed the Nashville Vols (short for Volunteers), was formed in 1901 as a charter member of the Southern Association.[7] They remained in the league through 1961, winning eight pennants, nine playoff championships, and four Dixie Series titles.[8][9] The league disbanded after the 1961 season, and no team was fielded in 1962, but the Vols played one final season in the South Atlantic League in 1963.[10] Sulphur Dell was demolished in 1969,[11] and the city went without a professional team for 14 years until 1978.

Getting a team and building a ballpark[edit]

Larry Schmittou, head coach of the Vanderbilt Commodores baseball team from 1968 to 1978, was instrumental in bringing professional baseball back to Nashville. He was inspired to get involved with Minor League Baseball when he observed the success Chattanooga, Tennessee, experienced when it acquired the Birmingham Barons, relocated the team, and renamed them the Chattanooga Lookouts in 1976.[12][13] Schmittou was told by multiple Major League Baseball teams that they would be willing to put a minor league affiliate in Nashville if he provided a suitable ballpark.[12]

The Sounds' original "Slugger" logo used from 1978 to 1998

Schmittou learned from a member of the Metro Board of Parks and Recreation that neither the Park Board or the city of Nashville would be willing to pay for such a park.[12] So, Schmittou, along with help from country music star Conway Twitty, put together a group of investors including other country stars Cal Smith, Larry Gatlin, Jerry Reed, and Richard Sterban (bass singer of the Oak Ridge Boys), as well as other Nashvillians, in order to finance a stadium and a minor league team.[14][15] Twenty shares valued at US$15,000 each were issued, with Schmittou purchasing 2 shares, or 10 percent of the team.[16] The Metro Parks Board agreed to lease to Schmittou the site of Nashville's former softball fields on the grounds of Fort Negley, an American Civil War fortification, approximately two miles (3 km) south of downtown, for a period of 20 years as long he built a stadium with a minimum capacity of 6,500 at a cost of at least $400,000 within 10 years.[17] In the second ten years, he would be required to pay the city seven percent of the team's total revenue.[17]

The projected construction cost of the stadium was between $300,000 and $500,000;[18] but the actual cost was over $1 million.[18] Schmittou looked to local suppliers to donate construction materials, took out a $30,000 loan from a bank, sold season tickets, and even mortgaged his own home to help pay for the stadium.[18] The ballpark would be named Herschel Greer Stadium in posthumous honor of Herschel Lynn Greer, a prominent Nashville businessman and the first president of the Nashville Vols baseball team, whose family donated $25,000 for stadium construction.[19]

Having secured a stadium, Schmittou and general manager Farrell Owens attended the 1976 Winter Meetings in hopes of landing a team. After sending letters to all 26 farm team directors, the pair received a letter from Sheldon "Chief" Bender of the Cincinnati Reds. Bender met with Schmittou and Owens, and he agreed to put a team in Nashville, provided a stadium was built.[20] The team was then granted membership in the Southern League, a class Double-A league, at an enfranchisement cost of $7,500.[21]

Schmittou invited fans to submit suggestions for the team's name which would be voted on by a group that included local sports writers and county musicians.[22] Among the finalists were "Stars", "Notes", "Hits", "Strings", "Kats", "Pickers", and "Vols".[22][23] The chosen name, "Sounds", is a play on the term "Nashville sound", a subgenre of American country music that traces its roots to the area in the late-1950s.[24] The team's wordmark and color scheme were lifted from the Memphis Sounds of the American Basketball Association (ABA), who used them from 1974 to 1975. 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 scheme.[25] The color blue was added to Memphis' red and white palette. Nashville's original logo, which was used from 1978 into 1998, and was initially sketched by Schmittou, reflected the city's association with the country music industry.[23] It depicted a mustachioed old-time baseball player, nicknamed "Slugger," swinging at a baseball with a guitar, a staple of country music, in place of a bat.[24] Further illustrating the city's musical ties was the typeface, with letters resembling musical notes and treble clefs, used to display the team name.[24]

Southern League[edit]

Cincinnati Reds (1978–79)[edit]

With a team in place and a stadium under construction, the Nashville Sounds were set to begin play in 1978 as an expansion team of the Southern League.[26] As the Double-A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds,[26] the Sounds played their first game on April 15, 1978, against the Memphis Chicks at Memphis' Tim McCarver Stadium, which they lost, 4–2.[27] The Sounds recorded their first win the next evening, defeating Memphis, 3–0.[28] Meanwhile, construction on Greer Stadium continued in order to be ready for the home opener. The team had 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.[18] On April 26, the Sounds played their first home game, a 12–4 victory, against the Savannah Braves in front of a sellout crowd of 8,156 fans.[29] The Greer home opener was scheduled to take place the previous evening, but was rained out.[18] 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.[18] Much of the sod that been laid that winter died, and the replacement sod arrived late, leaving it to be laid the day before the scheduled opening game.[30] The Sounds finished their inaugural 1978 season under manager Chuck Goggin with a 64–77 record and failed to win either half of the Southern League's split-season, leaving them out of the championship playoffs.[31] Bruce Berenyi was selected as the league's Most Outstanding Pitcher.[32]

A man wearing a white baseball uniform with dark green sleeves bearing a white "M" and a dark green cap with a white "M" on the front stands on a baseball field
Skeeter Barnes played third base in 1979. His number 00 was retired in the early 1990s.

The team incurred more success at the turnstiles than on the field. The Sounds led all of Minor League Baseball in attendance by drawing 380,000 fans in their first season.[15] In fact, Nashville went on to lead the Southern League in attendance in each of their seven seasons as a member of the league.[15] Larry Schmittou's business philosophy revolved around earning profits not from ticket sales, but from the sale of souvenirs and concessions.[33] This philosophy also involved promoting entertainment value, or fun, as much or more than promoting the baseball game.[18] The franchise was recognized for its promotion efforts when it won the Larry MacPhail Award for outstanding minor league promotions in 1978, 1980, and 1981.[34] Schmittou was awarded the Sporting News Double-A and Southern League Executive of the Year awards in 1978 and 1981.[35]

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 day of the first half of the season in first place, but lost their game to 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 their first Southern League championship by defeating the Astros, three games to one.[36] Schmittou wanted to give each player a $1,000 bonus for winning the pennant, but as that would have been against the National Association's rules, he settled for buying them championship rings instead.[37] Geoff Combe, with a league-leading 27 saves,[38] won the league's Most Outstanding Pitcher Award.[32] The Sounds compiled an 83–61 record that season.[39] During the All-Star Break between the halves of the season, Nashville 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 to two. Nashville's Duane Walker was named the game's MVP.[40]

Originally, the Reds allowed Nashville to use a designated hitter (DH) in their lineups. However, this allowance was later revoked, as the Reds were a part of the National League which did not use a DH. Larry Schmittou issued an ultimatum: if Cincinnati would not let the Sounds use a DH in their lineups, they would not renew their contract and would look for a new major league affiliate. The Reds did not budge on their decision to prohibit the designated hitter, 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.[18]

New York Yankees (1980–84)[edit]

Larry Schmittou had originally been encouraged by the New York Yankees organization to establish the Sounds as a Triple-A team, but he refused to go back on his previous promise to partner with the Reds at Double-A.[18] After the split with Cincinnati, the Sounds made their first affiliation switch in 1980, becoming the Double-A affiliate of the Yankees. Under manager Stump Merrill, 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 Montgomery Rebels. 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, the league MVP,[41] led the league with 101 runs, 34 home runs, 122 RBI, and 288 total bases.[26][42] Pitcher Andy McGaffigan was selected as the league's top pitcher.[32] The team also set a league attendance record, when a total of 575,676 fans visited Greer Stadium.[26] This record still stands as of the completion of the 2016 season. Their 97–46 record is the franchise's all-time best.[43] In 2001, the 1980 Sounds were ranked as the sixty-ninth greatest minor league baseball team of all-time by baseball historians.[26]

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. His number 18 was retired in 1999.

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.[44] 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.[44] 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. Nashville compiled an 81–62 record during the season under Stump Merrill.[45] Jamie Werly won the Southern League Most Outstanding Pitcher Award after leading the circuit with 18 complete games and 193 strikeouts.[32][46] 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.[47]

The 1982 Sounds, under manager Johnny Oates, won the second half of the season and met the Knoxville Blue Jays in the division playoffs. After defeating the Blue Jays, 3–1, 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.[36] The team finished with a 77–67 record.[48] Brian Dayett was selected as the Southern League MVP.[41] Stefan Wever, who had a league-leading 191 strikeouts,[49] was the league's Most Outstanding Pitcher.[32] Wever was the fifth Sounds pitcher in five years to win the award. Otis Nixon set the career franchise record in stolen bases during the 1981 to 1982 seasons.[50]

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.[51] 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.[51] 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.[52] 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.[52] The Sounds finished 30 games over .500, with a 88–58 record.[53] Pitcher Jamie Werly set the career franchise strikeout record (352) when he played for the Sounds in 1980, 1981, and 1983.[50] 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.[52] 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.[40]

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 in the Southern League. 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.[54] Nashville went on to capture the second-half title, however, for the sixth consecutive season, after defeating the Knoxville Blue Jays in a playoff game. The two teams met again in the divisional playoffs, but the Blue Jays emerged the victor, eliminating the Sounds from the playoffs. Skipper Jim Marshall led his Sounds to a 74–73 record.[55]

American Association[edit]

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.[56] 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. His desire to land a Triple-A team was part of a larger plan to put Nashville in a position to contend for a major league franchise in the future.[57] Attendance continued to drop in 1984, as season ticket sales were down 12% and overall attendance was down almost 20%.[56]

Schmittou and team owners arrived at terms in June 1984 to purchase the Triple-A 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.[56] The Southern League wanted Schmittou to surrender his franchise to the league, but he had plans to relocate the team instead.[58] Schmittou wanted to send Nashville's existing Southern League franchise to Evansville to continue as the Triplets at Double-A. However, a combination of the league's disapproval of the move and the City of Evansville being unwilling to upgrade Bosse Field resulted in a move to Huntsville, Alabama, where the team became the Huntsville Stars.[58] The Triple-A Sounds carried on the history of the Double-A team that preceded it. The Triplets' legacy was retired, and the Stars were established as an entirely-new franchise.

Detroit Tigers (1985–86)[edit]

A man wearing a gray baseball uniform with "Oakland" and the number "6" written across the chest in green letters and a green cap with a yellow "A" on it stands on a baseball field
Bob Melvin played catcher for the Sounds in 1985.

The Sounds entered the Triple-A playing level in 1985 as an affiliate of the Detroit Tigers playing in the American Association. They played their first Triple-A game on April 11, a 3–1 win, against the Buffalo Bisons at Greer Stadium.[59] The next day, Nashville competed in an exhibition game against their major league affiliate. The Tigers outlasted the Sounds, winning by a score of 9–3 in the tenth inning.[59] Seven games into the season, manager Lee Walls came down with an illness, and Nashville outfielder Leon Roberts became the acting manager for seven games until Gordon Mackenzie was brought on to lead the club for the rest of year.[60] On July 17, Bryan Kelly pitched the club's second no-hitter against the Oklahoma City 89ers, in which the Sounds won, 6–0.[54] Nashville ended the season with a 71–70 record and in second place in the Eastern Division, two-and-a-half games out of first behind the eventual league champion Louisville Redbirds.[61]

The 1986 team was managed by former player Leon Roberts who had temporarily lead the team the previous season. The Sounds finished third in their division with a 68–74 regular season record,[62] their first losing season since the inaugural 1978 season. Also that year, the Sounds were enlisted to serve as the competition in the Southern League All-Star Game, held in Huntsville. The game was won by Nashville with a score of four runs to two.[40] The team ended their affiliation with Detroit after two seasons of poor attendnace and a lackluster 1986 campaign.[57]

Cincinnati Reds (1987–92)[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 midseason. The result was a 64–76 record under skipper Jack Lind and a last place finish.[63] One player lost due to injuries was third baseman Chris Sabo. Sabo was promoted to Cincinnati in 1988 and was named the National League Rookie of the Year, a first for any former Sounds player.[64]

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.[65] 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.[65] Finally, former Texas Rangers manager Frank Lucchesi was hired to lead the Sounds for the rest of the season.[65] Lucchesi managed the team's last 39 games, leading them to a final record of 73–69.[66] They finished second in the Eastern Division, sixteen games behind the Indianapolis Indians who went on to win the league championship.[66]

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 pitcher's mound
Chris Hammond, a starting pitcher for Nashville in 1989 and 1990, was selected as the American Association's Most Valuable Pitcher in 1990.

Greer Stadium was home to a rare baseball occurrence on August 6 and August 7, 1988, when Nashville and Indianapolis 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.[67] That game was won by Nashville when Lenny Harris walked to first base, stole second base, stole third base, and then came home, scoring on a groundout.[67] The next night, Nashville's Jack Armstrong pitched a no-hit game against the Indians, a 4–0 Sounds victory. This was the first time in American Association history that teams played in back-to-back no-hit games, and was the third no-hitter in Sounds franchise history.[67]

Frank Lucchesi continued to manage the Sounds in 1989, leading the team to a third-place finish with a 74–72 record.[68] Pitcher Hugh Kemp set the career franchise records for games started (73) and walks (207) while playing for the team from 1987 to 1989.[50] The Sounds returned in 1990 to experience their most successful season in the American Association, when they compiled an 86–61 record under manager Pete Mackanin.[69] Ending 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.[70] Left-hander Chris Hammond won the league's Most Valuable Pitcher Award for 1990,[71] having led the league with 15 wins and 149 strikeouts.[72] That year, Nashville set their all-time attendance record when a total of 605,122 fans came out to Greer Stadium.[73] Skeeter Barnes, who played with Nashville in 1979 and from 1988 to 1990, holds three career franchise records: games played (514), at bats (1,848), and hits (517).[50]

In 1991, the Sounds started the year in first-place, where they remained for only ten days. By May 1, they had fallen into third-place in the Eastern Division, where they remained for the rest of the season. Mackanin's Sounds posted a losing record every month during the season and finished the year 16 games behind first-place Buffalo with 65–78 record.[74]

From 1988 to 1991, American Association teams participated in interleague play with teams from the Triple-A International League in a partnership called the Triple-A Alliance. The Sounds had an interleague record of 90–78 over this four-year period.[75] In 1992, Pete Mackanin was dismissed from his managerial duties on June 28.[76] He was replaced by Dave Miley who was managing the Reds' Double-A affiliate, the Chattanooga Lookouts.[77] The 1992 Sounds posted a 67–77 record, winding up in fourth-place.[78]

Greer Stadium, once one of the best stadiums in Triple-A baseball,[79] began to be out shined by newer state-of-the-art ballparks being built in the late 1980s.[80] The Reds let their player development contract (PDC) with the Sounds expire so they could place their Triple-A affiliate in Indianapolis, which was closer to Cincinnati and was planning to build a new stadium.[80] Nashville entered the offseason unsure of their next major league affiliate.

Chicago White Sox (1993–97)[edit]

With few options available, the Sounds signed a PDC with the Chicago White Sox who wanted to move their Triple-A farm club closer to home than their previous location in Vancouver.[80] The White Sox presented Schmittou with a list of complaints about the relatively poor condition of Greer Stadium. Schmittou was unable to convince mayor Phil Bredesen or the Metro Council to pay for new stadium to replace Greer.[81] He considered moving the team to a surrounding county, and explored sites in La Vergne, Cool Springs, and Mount Juliet.[82] He even tried, unsuccessfully, to get the Metro Council to pass a referendum to let taxpayers vote on a temporary tax increase to pay off a proposed $40 million stadium in three years.[81] In the end, Schmittou elected to keep the Sounds at Greer but make significant improvements to the stadium. One of those improvements was the addition of Greer's signature guitar-shaped scoreboard, which was installed in 1993.

A view of the giant blue guitar-shaped scoreboard beyond the left-center field wall. Advertisements for local businesses adorn the guitar and the green outfield wall below.
Greer's unique guitar-shaped scoreboard was installed in 1993.

In their first year with the White Sox, the Sounds clinched the Eastern Division title with an 81–62 record.[83] In the league championship series, the Sounds lost to the Iowa Cubs, four games to three, in a decisive extra-inning game seven.[70] Nashville's Rick Renick, who managed the club from 1993 to 1996, was named the American Association Manager of the Year in his first season.[71]

The Sounds shared Greer Stadium 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. Larry Schmittou offered Greer as a temporary home ballpark for the team. In order to accommodate an additional club at Greer, the Xpress scheduled its home games during the Sounds' road trips.[84] In 1995, the Xpress relocated to Wilmington, North Carolina, and became the Port City Roosters.

In 1994, the Sounds earned an 83–61 record, placing them in second.[85] This qualified them for their second consecutive appearance in the league playoffs. In the first round, Nashville swept the New Orleans Zephyrs in three straight games to advance to the league finals.[70] In the best-of-five championship series, the Indianapolis Indians defeated the Sounds, three games to one.[70] Nashville hosted the mid-summer Triple-A All-Star Game in 1994. Nashville's Rick Renick managed the team of American League affiliated All-Stars which included Sounds players Ray Durham, Drew Denson, and Scott Ruffcorn, however Ruffcorn was later placed on the disabled list and replaced by Steve Schrenk. Durham won the All-Star Game's Most Valuable Player Award.[86] Ruffcorn, who led the American Association with 15 wins,[87] was selected as the association's Most Valuable Pitcher for 1994.[71]

The Sounds compiled a 68–76 record, 20 games out of first-place, in 1995.[88] 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.[89] The team improved their record in 1996, ending up with 77 wins and 67 losses.[90] Despite a decent winning percentage, Nashville failed to secure a spot in the playoffs. Outfielder Jeff Abbott won the Rookie of the Year Award, and Rick Renick earned his second Manager of the Year Award.[71] Joey Vierra pitched in a career franchise-record 238 games from 1990 to 1992 and 1994 to 1995.[50]

This 1996 season marked the last that Larry Schmittou was the team's principal owner and president. 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.[18] In 1997, Nashville, under the guidance of manager Tom Spencer, put together a 74–68 campaign,[91] again failing to win either half of the season, excluding them from the playoffs. In addition to being selected for both the midseason and postseason All-Star teams, outfielder Magglio Ordóñez won the Triple-A All-Star Game MVP Award and garnered the league's Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year Awards.[71] Ordóñez had led the league with 172 hits, and tied for first with a .329 batting average and 249 total bases.[92]

Pacific Coast League[edit]

Pittsburgh Pirates (1998–2004)[edit]

The American Association, of which the Sounds had been members since 1985, disbanded after the 1997 season. Its teams were absorbed by the two remaining Triple-A leagues—the International League and Pacific Coast League. Nashville joined the Pacific Coast League (PCL), making it the eastern-most team in the league.[93] 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 began to adopt a new logo, color scheme, and uniforms over the course of the 1998 and 1999 seasons.[94] The original red, white, and blue colors were replaced by black and red. The new team logo, replacing the original "Slugger", consisted of a black, red, and white music note enclosed in a circle of the same colors bearing the team name in a more modern font.

A man wearing a white baseball uniform with a navy blue "L" on the chest, a navy blue cap with a white "L" on the center, and a black glove on his left hand stands on the pitcher's mound in the midst of pitching a ball.
John Wasdin pitched a perfect game for the Sounds on April 7, 2003.

In 1998, the team's first season as a Pirates affiliate, the Sounds finished last in the American Conference East Division with a 67–76 record.[95] The Sounds were led by manager Trent Jewett who would go on to win 320 games from 1998 to 2000 and 2003 to 2004, placing him first on the all-time wins list for Sounds managers.[96] The Sounds experienced their longest winning streak in franchise history when they won 15 consecutive games from June 2 to June 20, 1999.[97] Overall, the team improved from the previous year, putting together an 80–60 record,[98] but their second-place finish left them out of the PCL playoffs where only division winners advance to the postseason.[99]

Nashville ended the 2000 season with a 63–79 record, resulting in a last-place finish in the divisional standings.[100] Richie Hebner, the Sounds' pitching coach, replaced Trent Jewett as manager when he became the Pirates' third base coach on June 6.[101] Former All-Star Sounds infielder Marty Brown returned to the club to serve as its 25th manager in 2001, becoming the third former Nashville player to serve as the team's skipper. The Sounds compiled a 64–77 record, leaving them in third-place.[102] On June 30, Tike Redman became the first Sounds player to hit for the cycle.[103] Redman also holds the Sounds franchise record for the most triples (30) during his career with the team.[50] Despite finishing the 2002 season with a 72–71 record under Brown, it was only good enough for a third-place finish, two-and-a-half games out of first place.[104] Chad Hermansen, who played for the Sounds from 1998 to 2002, holds three career franchise records: runs (303), home runs (92), and runs batted in (286).[50]

Right-hander John Wasdin pitched the first perfect game in Nashville Sounds history in his first start of the season against the Albuquerque Isotopes on April 7, 2003.[105] The 4–0 Sounds win was only the second nine-inning perfect game in PCL history.[106] That year, Trent Jewett returned to led the Sounds to an 81–62 record.[107] The team clinched the American Conference Eastern Division title, giving them their first postseason berth in Pacific Coast League and first postseason appearance since 1994. Nashville met Albuquerque in the American Conference championship series, defeating the Isotopes three games to one. The Sounds then lost the best-of-five league championship series in three straight games to the Sacramento River Cats.[108]

On May 21, 2004, catcher J. R. House became the second Sounds player to hit for the cycle.[103] The team completed the 2004 campaign with a 63–79 record, finishing last in the division under Jewett.[109] Early in the season, Jason Bay played four games in Nashville before being promoted to Pittsburgh. Following the major league season, he was named the National League Rookie of the Year. This made him the second former player from Nashville to receive such honors.[64] Closer Mark Corey set the career franchise record for saves during the 2003 and 2004 seasons.[50]

Milwaukee Brewers (2005–14)[edit]

A man wearing a white baseball uniform with a black music note on the left sleeft and a black cap stands at first base with his baseball glove on his left hand resting on his hip
Prince Fielder, played first base in 2005

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 was duplicated from 2005 to 2014, but with reverse roles, in ice hockey, as the Milwaukee Admirals were the top-level minor league affiliate of the National Hockey League's Nashville Predators.[110] The Sounds also debuted a new oval-shaped logo with a baseball player silhouetted against a yellow background hitting a ball toward the Nashville skyline with the city's name written above within a red border and the team name written in red and black script below.[24] The new Brewers affiliate was managed by Frank Kremblas and featured top prospects such as Rickie Weeks, Prince Fielder, Nelson Cruz, and Corey Hart. The affiliation started well as the club won the American Conference Northern Division title on the second-to-last day of the season with a 75–69 record.[111] The team went on to win the American Conference title against the Oklahoma RedHawks, three games to two, before sweeping the Tacoma Rainiers in three straight games in the finals to win the 2005 Pacific Coast League championship.[108] Outfielder Nelson Cruz clinched the title with a three-run home run with two outs in the 13th inning.[112] This was Nashville's first title since their previous league crown in 1982 and their first championship as a Triple-A team.

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.[113] 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.[114] Additionally, several team and league records were broken by both clubs. 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.[114] The Sounds finished the season with a 76–68 record under Kremblas, tied with the Iowa Cubs for first place in the American Conference Northern Division.[115] Nashville won the division title and advanced to the postseason by means of a tiebreaker (winning the regular season series versus Iowa, nine games to seven).[116][117] In the conference championship series, Nashville lost to the Round Rock Express, three games to two.[108]

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, who played third base in 2007, won the National League Rookie of the Year Award that same season with the Brewers.

The 2007 Sounds included top Brewers prospects Yovani Gallardo and Ryan Braun. 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.[64] 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.[118] The team, led by PCL Manager of the Year Frank Kremblas,[119] captured the American Conference Northern Division title for the third straight year and finished the season with a league-best 89–55 record.[120] They were defeated by the New Orleans Zephyrs, three games to one, in the conference championship series.[121] Nashville-native knuckleball pitcher and 13-game winner R.A. Dickey won the PCL Pitcher of the Year Award.[119][122]

Massive flooding in the Midwest resulted in the Sounds and the Iowa Cubs played a game with an official attendance of zero on June 14, 2008.[123] 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.[123] Kremblas' Sounds ended with a 59–81 record, the second-lowest in the team's history.[124]

The Sounds had planned to leave Greer Stadium in the mid 2000s for a new ballpark to be called First Tennessee Field,[125] but the project was abandoned after the city, developers, and team could not come to terms on a plan to finance its construction.[126][127] On October 30, 2008, following this failure to secure a new ballpark, 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. Keeping the team in Nashville was one of the PCL's top criteria for approval of the sale. The transaction received final approval from Major League Baseball and the PCL on February 26, 2009.[128] MFP made significant renovations to Greer Stadium while it continued to explore options for building a new downtown ballpark for the club.[129]

Rebounding from their 2008 campaign, the 2009 Sounds achieved a 75–69 record under new manager Don Money.[130] 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 2010 season proved to be reminiscent of the previous campaign. Though Nashville finished the year with a winning 77–67 record under Money, it was only good enough to place fourth (last) in the division.[131]

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.[132] Center fielder Logan Schafer garnered national media attention when he initiated a triple play on August 20, 2011, against the Omaha Storm Chasers.[133][134] 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.[135] With Money at the helm, Nashville ended the year with a 71–73 record, placing third in their division.[136]

Managed by Mike Guerrero, the 2012 Sounds finished the season in second place with a losing 67–77 record, sixteen games behind first-place Omaha.[137] Nashville set a franchise record low win–loss record in 2013. The 57–87 season eclipsed the previous franchise record set in 2008.[138] Despite the team's performance, pitcher Johnny Hellweg won the PCL Pitcher of the Year Award,[139] and Guerrero was selected for the Mike Coolbaugh Award in recognition for his contributions to the game.[140] Tim Dillard, who pitched for the Sounds from 2007 to 2014, set three career franchise records during his Sounds career: wins (39), innings pitched (556⅔), and runs allowed (302).[50]

Prior to the 2014 season, the Sounds, Metro Nashville, and the State of Tennessee finalized a plan to build a new ballpark to replace Greer Stadium at the beginning of the 2015 season.[141][142] On August 27, 2014, the Sounds hosted the final game at Greer Stadium, an 8–5 loss to the Sacramento River Cats. In his only plate appearance, Nashville catcher Lucas May struck out swinging with a full count and the bases loaded to end the game.[143] The announced attendance at the game was a standing-room-only crowd of 11,067, the first sellout since 2010, and the largest crowd since 2007.[144] The team, led by veteran minor league manager Rick Sweet, finished the season with a 76–67 record, in second place, two-and-a-half games behind Memphis.[145] Jimmy Nelson, the Brewers' top prospect at the start of the season, was elected PCL Pitcher of the Year; he received all but one of the votes.[146] The Sounds severed ties with the Brewers, with whom they had had the longest affiliation in franchise history, after the 2014 season citing poor on-field performance from recent Brewers Triple-A teams.[147]

Oakland Athletics (2015–present)[edit]

A view of the green baseball field from the third base line seats showing men in white baseball uniforms playing their positions as the sun has just set behind first base
Nashville's First Tennessee Park opened in 2015 at the former site of the historic Sulphur Dell ballpark.

Having parted with Milwaukee, Nashville entered into a four-year player development contract with the Oakland Athletics that runs from 2015 through 2018.[148] The Sounds also adopted a new color scheme, set of logos, and uniforms before the 2015 season.[149] The team hired sports design firm Brandiose to create their new visual identity. At one point, the firm was asked to explore new team nicknames which included "Platinums", "Hits", "FireFlies", "Picks", "DrumSticks", and "Roosters".[150][151][152] Nashville chose to stick with the Sounds moniker, but elected to embrace a new color scheme that originally included Broadway Burnt Orange, Sunburst Tan, Neon Orange, and Cash Black.[149] However, the team returned to the previous red and black color scheme, with the addition of platinum silver as an accent color, before the start of the season following mixed feedback from team fans.[153] The new logos incorporated elements that reflect Nashville's "Music City" nickname, such as guitars, guitar picks, and a guitar's sound hole, as well as neon signs such as those in the city's Broadway entertainment district.[24][153]

The start of the 2015 season marked the first time that the Sounds played at the new downtown First Tennessee Park, which is located at the former site of the historic Sulphur Dell ballpark.[154] The Sounds defeated the Colorado Springs Sky Sox, 3–2 in 10 innings, in the inaugural home opener in front of an announced paid attendance of 10,459.[155] First baseman Max Muncy secured the win with a walk-off RBI double, scoring Billy Burns from first base, before being mobbed by his Sounds teammates on the field.[155] Under manager Steve Scarsone, Nashville finished their first season as an A's affiliate in third place with a 66–78 record.[156] Barry Zito, who won the American League Cy Young Award in 2002, made his return to professional baseball with the Sounds in 2015 after sitting out the 2014 season. Zito was lauded by his Nashville teammates for embracing the Triple-A lifestyle and for his commitment to the team: charting pitches between starts, coaching first base, and even buying dinner for the entire team on his birthday.[157]

Baseball players in gray uniforms with red and black markings celebrating on the field
Sounds players celebrating after a combined no-hitter against Omaha on June 7, 2017

In 2016, PCL Manager of the Year Steve Scarsone led the Sounds to a league-best 83–59 record and the American Conference Southern Division title, sending the team to the postseason for the first time since 2007.[119][158] The Sounds lost the American Conference series versus the Oklahoma City Dodgers, three games to two, including a dramatic back-and-forth game seven.[159] At First Tennessee Park, the Sounds added the Country Legends Race, similar to major league mascot races, such as the Sausage Race and Presidents Race, to its between-innings entertainment in 2016. In the middle of the fifth inning, people in oversized foam caricature costumes depicting country musicians Johnny Cash, George Jones, and Reba McEntire race around the warning track from center field, through the visiting bullpen, and to the home plate side of the first base dugout.[160]

Ryan Christenson came in to manage the club in 2017. Sounds pitchers Chris Smith (6 IP), Sean Doolittle (1 IP), Tucker Healy (1 IP), and Simón Castro (1 IP) combined to pitch the franchise's seventh no-hitter on June 7, 2017, against the Omaha Storm Chasers, a 4–0 Nashville win.[161] All-Star Renato Núñez, whose three-run home run propelled the PCL past the International League to win the 2017 Triple-A All-Star Game, was selected as the game's MVP.[86] Joey Wendle set the career franchise record for doubles (102) during the year.[50] The Sounds finished their 40th anniversary season in second place with a 68–71 record.[162]

Season-by-season results[edit]

Nashville Sounds 5-Year History
Year Regular Season Postseason
Record Win % League Division GB Record Win % Result
2013 57–87 .396 16th 4th 13
2014 77–67 .535 5th 2nd
2015 66–78 .458 12th 3rd 12
2016 83–59 .585 1st 1st 2–3 .400 Clinched American Conference Southern Division title
Lost American Conference title vs Oklahoma City Dodgers, 3–2
2017 68–71 .489 8th (tie) 2nd 22
5-Year Totals 351–362 .492 2–3 .400 1 Division title

Rivals[edit]

Nashville's chief rivals have been those based in Memphis, Tennessee. Located approximately 200 miles (320 km) to the southwest and connected to Nashville by Interstate 40, Memphis has fielded several teams which have competed in the same leagues as Nashville's teams since the late 19th century.[163] The Sounds entered the rivalry when they joined the Southern League in 1978.[31] Nashville played in the Western 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.[164] Memphis and Nashville each won the first and second halves, respectively, of the 1980 season. This time, however, Memphis won the Western Division title, defeating Nashville in three out of four games.[164] 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.[164]

The intrastate rivalry was interrupted when Nashville moved to the American Association in 1985, but was renewed when the Sounds joined the Pacific Coast League in 1998.[99] The Sounds and the Memphis Redbirds have been division rivals ever since.[165] In 2009, Memphis clinched the American Conference Northern Division title, finishing the season just two games ahead of Nashville which spent the majority of the season in first place.[130] Similarly, Nashville finished the 2014 season two-and-a-half games behind Memphis after having led the division for most of the season.[145]

From 2012 to 2015, the two teams competed in the I-40 Cup Series, a season-long, 16-game series between the clubs.[166] Whichever of the two won the most games played between them was declared the winner and received a trophy cup to keep until the next season. The losing team donated game tickets to a charity selected by the winner. The Sounds won the inaugural 2012 contest (9–7), and Memphis won the 2013 series (7–9).[166] The teams tied the 2014 and 2015 series (both 8–8); the Redbirds retained the title in both instances.[167] The teams discontinued the trophy cup, friendly wager, and promotional references to the Series after 2015.

As of the completion of the 2017 series, Memphis leads the all-time series against Nashville with a record of 913–886 (.508).[168] This record encompasses all 93 years of competition in the original Southern League, Southern Association, Southern League, and Pacific Coast League. Nashville, however, leads the 20-year PCL series with a record of 168–149 (.530).[166][169]

Ballparks[edit]

Herschel Greer Stadium (1978–2014)[edit]

The Sounds originally played at Herschel Greer Stadium from 1978 through 2014. The ballpark, which still stands, is located on the grounds of Fort Negley, an American Civil War fortification approximately two miles (3 km) south of downtown Nashville. The venue experienced numerous expansions and contractions after its completion in 1978,[170] but seated 10,300 spectators during its final 2014 season.[171] The largest attendance occurred on August 18, 1982, when 22,315 people saw the Sounds take on the Columbus Astros.[172] Greer's best known feature is the giant 115.6 foot (35.2 m) guitar-shaped scoreboard behind the left field wall.

Following the construction of newer, relatively luxurious minor league ballparks, Greer Stadium had fallen below the standards set for Triple-A stadiums by professional baseball in 1990.[79] At the time, team president Larry Schmittou tried to convince the city to approve a new ballpark, but was unsuccessful.[79] Throughout the 2000s, the team continued in its attempts to gather approval and financing for a new ballpark to replace Greer.[173] At one point, a new stadium, First Tennessee Field, was planned for construction on the west bank of the Cumberland River in downtown. Disagreements over who would pay for the ballpark repeatedly pushed back opening day at the stadium, and eventually resulted in the cancellation of the project altogether.[174] In the meantime, numerous upgrades and repairs, including over $2.5 million worth of improvements from 2008 to 2009, were made to Greer in order to preserve its functionality until a new stadium could be built.[175] A deal for such a new ballpark was achieved in late 2013. The Sounds played their final game at Greer on August 27, 2014.[144]

First Tennessee Park (2015–present)[edit]

The Sounds' current home ballpark is First Tennessee Park, which opened on April 17, 2015.[154] It is located in downtown Nashville at the location of the former Sulphur Dell ballpark.[176] The $91 million stadium has a fixed seating capacity of 8,500 people, but can accommodate up to 10,000 people with additional grass berm seating.[177][178] The ballpark's attendance record was set on July 3, 2017, when 11,764 people watched the Sounds play against the Oklahoma City Dodgers on the night of the team's Independence Day celebration.[179] The stadium features wide concourses with direct views of the playing field. Its design, which incorporates the use of musical and baseball imagery, is meant to connect the park with the city's baseball and musical heritage.[180] This is accomplished through the use of directional signage displaying information on Nashville's former teams and players, the grandstand's light stanchions reminiscent of those found at Sulphur Dell, and the use of the team's guitar pick logo throughout the park.[177]

One of First Tennessee Park's most recognizable features, like Greer Stadium before it, is a 142 by 55 foot (43 by 17 m) guitar-shaped scoreboard beyond the right-center field wall.[180][181] Unlike Greer's guitar, which was only able to display basic in-game information such as the line score, count, and brief player statistics, the new, larger version is also capable of displaying colorful graphics, animations, and videos, the batting order, fielding positions, expanded statistics, and player photographs.[182] Other distinguishing features at the ballpark include The Band Box, an outdoor restaurant and bar which serves variations on traditional ballpark foods,[177] and The Country Club at The Band Box, a 9-hole miniature golf course which exhibits art from different local and regional artists.[183]

Uniforms[edit]

Nashville Sounds uniforms during the 2017 season

Nashville's current uniforms, adopted in 2015, utilize the team's red, black, and platinum silver color palette and incorporate elements that reflect Nashville's "Music City" moniker.[153] Home uniforms consist of white jerseys with single lines of red piping around the sleeve openings and up the front going around the neck. The word "Sounds" is sewn on the chest in red letters surrounded by platinum silver and black which resemble the sound holes on a guitar. A patch of a red, silver, black, and white guitar shown hitting a baseball is located on the left sleeve. An green Oakland Athletics elephant logo is sewn on the right sleeve. From mid-August 2017 through the 2018 season, a two-tone green patch in the shape of the state of Tennessee bearing the letters "FYKE" will be worn on the left shoulder in memoriam of Jim Fyke, a Metro government employee and state official who played an integral role in securing a new Sounds ballpark.[184] The player's last name is sewn on the back in black block characters, and his number is displayed below his name in red sound-hole lettering with a silver border and black drop shadow. White pants with a single line of red piping going up the sides are worn with black belts and black socks. The home cap is solid black with the primary "N" guitar pick logo. Batting helmets are glossy black with the same "N" pick logo.[185] Road uniforms are identical to those worn for home games with only a few exceptions: jerseys and pants are made from gray material, "Nashville" is written across the chest instead of "Sounds", pants have no pinstripes, and the cap bears a guitar pick logo with an "S" in place of an "N".[185]

The team wears a black alternate jersey for all Monday home games and frequently on the road in place of the traditional gray road jersey.[186] These mesh jerseys are similar to the home and road versions, but with "Music City" written across the chest, no names on the back, and "Nashville" sewn in red letters under the Athletics sleeve logo. They are usually paired with a cap with the letters "MC", for "Music City", over a guitar pick.[24][185] Alternate red jerseys with printed graphics are worn for all Friday home games. These jerseys are made from red material with black and white striping at the neck opening and bands of silver, black, and white around the sleeve openings. A guitar's fret and headstock extend upward from these bands on each sleeve. "Nashville" is printed across the chest in white sound-hole lettering bordered by silver and black. The player's number is located below the city's name on the player's left chest in silver characters with a white border and a black drop shadow. The number is also displayed on the back in white lettering with a silver border and black drop shadow. This jersey is paired with white pants and a cap of solid red with a spinning black record with white stars from the flag of Tennessee on the center red label set against a white and black silhouette of the state of Tennessee.[187]

A third set of alternate uniforms honoring the 1978 Sounds are worn for Thursday home games in conjunction with Throwback Thursday promotions.[186] The jerseys, similar to those worn by the 1978 team, are white pullover v-necks with bands of red, white, and blue around the neck, with larger bands at the sleeve openings. The word "Sounds" is written across the chest in red-on-blue music note-like script, with the player's number below the team name on the player's left chest in blue block characters surrounded by red. The right sleeve bears the round "Slugger" patch. White pants are worn with blue belts and blue stirrups. The cap is blue with a red brim, displaying an "N" styled like a music note in white, bordered by red.[188] The team wears olive drab jerseys paired with white pants and home caps for all Sunday home games as a part of Military Sundays.[186] These jerseys have the same "Sounds" wordmark and back numbers as appear on home uniforms, but they are presented in two-tone gray and tan camouflage instead of red. The player's number is located on the front, an American flag appears on the left sleeve, and ribbon honoring military personnel is found on the right sleeve.[189] The team's batting practice cap is solid red with the guitar patch on the front.[185]

Past[edit]

The team has utilized two color palettes prior to its current color scheme. The original colors, used from 1978 to 1998, consisted of red, white, and blue. From 1998 to 2014, the Sounds used a black and red palette similar to the club's current colors. Both color schemes were used in the 1998 season during the transition from one to the other.

From 1978 to 1986, the team wore pullover v-neck jerseys made of white fabric, for home games, gray, for road games, and red or blue, for use as alternates. Bands of red, white, and blue were worn around the neck, with larger bands at the sleeve openings (the blue jerseys had one white band and two red bands). The word "Sounds" was written across the chest in red-on-blue music note-like script. Numbers, but not names, were sewn on the back of jerseys.[190] The team's pants were white and also displayed small red, white, and blue stripes down the legs and larger stripes around the waistband. Similar gray pants were worn for road games. Beginning in 1984, numbers were also located on the front of jerseys on the player's left chest, below the team name.[191] The team wore a blue cap with a red brim, displaying an "N" styled like a music note in white, bordered by red; this was the official team cap from 1978 through the mid-1990s.[191]

From 1987 to 1998, the team wore button up jerseys made of white fabric, for home games, and gray, for road games. The design of the home jerseys remained mostly the same as their previous uniforms. The word "Sounds" was still written across the chest in blue music note-like script, with a red border; though, 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.[192] The back of the jersey carried the player's number; during some years, names were also present. Road grays had "Nashville" written across the chest and were missing the tri-color bands at both the neck and sleeves.[192] During this time, the team also added a blue mesh v-neck jersey with the red and white guitar swinger logo on the left chest. The wide tri-color stripes were dropped from the pants and were replaced by a blue belt. The Sounds continued to wear the original red-billed blue cap with all uniforms until approximately 1993 when a new cap was introduced. This new all-blue cap added the "Slugger" logo to accompany the "N."[193] The two caps were worn interchangeably through 1998.

The team switched to a red and black color scheme over the course of the 1998 and 1999 seasons.[94] In the latter season, uniforms consisted of black-pinstriped pants and jerseys, with black sleeves bearing a music note logo on the left.[192] White home jerseys had "Sounds" written across the chest in red with a white-on-black border using the same font used by the Anaheim Angels at the time. Road grays displayed "Nashville" on the chest in the same style. Both styles had the player's number sewn on the back in block characters in the same colors. There was also an alternate jersey made of solid red fabric with black and gray trim around the sleeve openings and a music note logo on the left chest. Another alternate, made of black material, had red and white trim at the sleeve openings and a similar music note logo on the left chest.

In 2003, 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.[194] Pants had the same piping going down the legs on the outside. From 2006 to 2012, similar jerseys without sleeves or player's number on the front were worn. These vest-like jerseys were worn over black T-shirts of varying sleeve lengths.[195] 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 usually 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 a red and white music note logo on the front.[195]

From 2013 to 2014, team jerseys were made of mesh material with black sections at the armpits and a single line of black piping going down the sleeves and across the shoulders to the neck. A Brewers logo was sewn on the left sleeve. On home jerseys, the word "Sounds" was written across the chest in red script surrounded by black. The player's name was displayed on the back in black block characters; numbers were also shown in large red characters surrounded by black. Road jerseys were the same, but with "Nashville" across the chest, red underarm sections and sleeve piping in place of black, and no name on the back. The team's alternate uniforms from 2010 to 2014 were similar to these jerseys, except they were made of red material with black underarm sections and sleeve piping. "Sounds" was written across the chest in white script surrounded by black. A Brewers logo was located on the front of the left shoulder. Numbers, in white surrounded by black, were sewn on the back in block characters.[196]

Uniform Timeline
1978–1986
 
1987–1998
 
1999–2002
 
2003–2005
 
2006–2007
 
2008–2012
 
2013–2014
 
2015–2016
 
2017–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. Jamison remained the voice of the Sounds through 1990 when he was hired as the radio broadcaster for the California Angels. Nashville-native and future sports talk show host George Plaster served as a color commentator from 1980 to 1981 and 1985 to 1986. 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.

Steve Selby served as the lead broadcaster for the Sounds from 1996 to 1999, after which he left to call games for the Memphis Redbirds.[197] Chuck Valenches, a former assistant broadcaster, was promoted to the role of lead broadcaster from 2000 to 2009. Stu Paul was the Sounds' play-by-play man for the 2010 and 2011 seasons.[198] Jeff Hem has been the team's lead broadcaster since 2012.[199] All Sounds home and road games are broadcast on ALT 97.5 FM. Live audio broadcasts are also available online through the team's website and iHeartRadio.[199]

Games can be viewed through the MiLB.TV subscription feature of the official website of Minor League Baseball, with audio provided by a radio simulcast.[200] Sounds home games were regularly televised by WZTV from 1982 to 1992. A few games were also aired by WNPX in 1999.[201] From 2005 to 2008,[202] a monthly television program, called Sounds On Demand, aired throughout Middle Tennessee via Comcast cable, and was also available "On Demand" through Comcast Digital Cable programming.[202] 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.[202]

Mascots[edit]

A person wearing a red anthropomorphized rooster costume dressed in a white baseball jersey with a blue "V" on the right chest dances on a baseball dugout
Booster, mascot of the Nashville Sounds

The Nashville Sounds' mascot is an anthropomorphic rooster named Booster. He is bright red with yellow legs, beak, comb, and palms and red, orange, and yellow tail feathers resembling flames. He wears the same style jerseys as the team with the number zero on the back. He made his debut on April 17, 2015, at the Sounds' first game at First Tennessee Park. The name refers to "boosting" or building enthusiasm for the team, while the costume is a play on Nashville hot chicken.[203]

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.[204][205]

From 1995 to 1996, a lime-green dinosaur named Champ, borrowed from the Vermont Expos, was the team's mascot.[206] Following altercations with team management and league personnel during games, Champ, vis-à-vis his performer, did not return for the 1997 season.[207].

An anthropomorphic cougar named Ozzie was the team's mascot from 1997 to 2014. The original Ozzie came from the Class A Kane County Cougars minor league team, which had an extra mascot costume. The surplus cougar outfit was sent to Nashville, and, after building a fan following during Ozzie's first season, team management decided to make him the permanent mascot.[208] The original Ozzie costume was brown, but a new yellow costume was introduced in 1998. Ozzie wore the same style of uniform as the team, but with no hat. Ozzie was retired when the Sounds left Greer Stadium in 2014, although he continued to make appearances during the 2014 to 2015 off-season.[203]

Roster[edit]

Nashville Sounds roster
Players Coaches/Other

Pitchers

Catchers

Infielders

Outfielders


Manager

Coaches


Injury icon 2.svg 7-day disabled list
* On Oakland Athletics 40-man roster
# Rehab assignment
∞ Reserve list
‡ Restricted list
§ Suspended list
† Temporary inactive list
Roster updated September 5, 2017
Transactions
More MiLB rosters
Oakland Athletics minor league players

Achievements[edit]

Awards[edit]

Fourteen players have won league awards in recognition for their performance while with the Sounds. Three players have won league Most Valuable Player (MVP) awards. Steve Balboni (1980) and Brian Dayett (1982) won the Southern League MVP Award,[41] and Magglio Ordóñez (1997) won the American Association MVP Award.[71] Ten players have won Pitcher of the Year honors. Bruce Berenyi (1978), Geoff Combe (1979), Andy McGaffigan (1980), Jamie Werly (1981), and Stefan Wever (1982) were selected for the Southern League Most Outstanding Pitcher Award.[32] Chris Hammond (1990) and Scott Ruffcorn (1994) won the American Association Most Valuable Pitcher Award.[71] R.A. Dickey (2007), Johnny Hellweg (2013), and Jimmy Nelson (2014) were selected for the PCL Pitcher of the Year Award.[119] Jeff Abbott (1996) and Magglio Ordóñez (1997) won the American Association Rookie of the Year Award.[71] Ordóñez is the only Sounds player to win multiple league awards.

Four managers have been selected as their league's Manager of the Year. Stump Merrill (1980) won the Southern League Manager of the Year Award,[209] Rick Renick (1993 and 1996) won the American Association Manager of the Year Award,[71] and Frank Kremblas (2007) and Steve Scarsone (2016) have won the PCL Manager of the Year Award.[119]

Sixty-nine players have been selected for midseason All-Star teams.[210] Of those players, Joey Vierra (1992 and 1995), Drew Denson (1993–94), and Vinny Rottino (2007–08) are the only players to have been selected twice while playing for Nashville.[210] Four players have been chosen as the MVP for midseason All-Star games: Duane Walker (1979),[211] Ray Durham (1994), Magglio Ordóñez (1997), and Renato Núñez (2017).[86] Of the 50 players who have been named to postseason All-Star teams, only Duane Walker (1979 in two positions) and Jeff Abbott (1996–97) have been selected twice.[212][213]

Retired numbers[edit]

Nashville has honored two of its players by retiring their uniform numbers.[214] When a number is retired, only the player with the retired number can wear that number if he returns to the team as a player or coach. This ensures that the number will be associated with one player of particular importance to the team. Nashville displays its retired numbers on the front of the press box at First Tennessee Park.

NashvilleSoundsRetired00.PNG NashvilleSoundsRetired18.PNG NashvilleSoundsRetired42.PNG
Skeeter Barnes Don Mattingly Jackie Robinson
OF / 3B / 1B
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]

Three members of 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,[215] was elected in 1985.[216] Shortstop Barry Larkin, who was elected in 2012,[217] made two appearances with the Sounds during a rehabilitation assignment in 1989.[218] Outfielder Tim Raines, who made three rehab appearances with the Sounds in 1993,[219] was elected in 2017.[220]

The Sounds are also represented in the Southern League Hall of Fame. Larry Schmittou, who helped bring baseball to Nashville in 1978 and was the principal owner through 1996, was inducted in 2016.[221]

Managers[edit]

A man in a black baseball jersey with red trim and "Music City" written in red letters across the chest, a black cap with an "MC" on the front, and gray pants stands in front of a dugout.
Steve Scarsone, Sounds manager from 2015 to 2016

Over the course of 40 seasons, the Nashville Sounds have employed 27 managers.[96] The duties of the team manager include team strategy and leadership on and off the field.[222] Three managers have guided the team to win their league's championship.[223] George Scherger (1979) and Johnny Oates (1982) led the team to win the Southern League championship.[224] Frank Kremblas (2005) led the team to win the Pacific Coast League championship.[112] Trent Jewett is the longest-tenured manager in team history, having managed the team for 625 games from 1998 to 2000 and 2003 to 2004.[96]

Nashville Sounds Managerial Record (Last Five Managers)
# Manager Years Regular Season Postseason
Games Wins Losses Win % Appearances Wins Losses Win %
23 Mike Guerrero 2012–13 288 124 164 .431
24 Charlie Greene[a] 2013 9 2 7 .222
25 Rick Sweet 2014 144 77 67 .535
26 Steve Scarsone 2015–16 286 149 137 .521 1 2 3 .400
27 Ryan Christenson 2017–present 139 68 71 .489
Totals 6 years 866 420 446 .485 1 2 3 .400
a Greene served as an interim manager for nine games in May 2013 while manager Mike Guerrero was on bereavement leave.[225]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Specific

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General

  • Nipper, Skip (2007). Baseball in Nashville. Charleston, South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7385-4391-8. 
  • O'Neal, Bill (1994). The Southern League: Baseball in Dixie, 1885–1994. Eakin Press. ISBN 0-89015-952-1. 
  • Traughber, Bill (2017). Nashville Baseball History: From Sulphur Dell to the Sounds. South Orange, New Jersey: Summer Games Books. ISBN 978-1-938545-83-2. 
  • Woody, Larry (1996). Schmittou: A Grand Slam in Baseball, Business, and Life. Nashville: Eggmann Publishing Company. ISBN 1-886371-33-4. 

External links[edit]