|Minor league affiliations|
|Southern League (1993–1994)|
|Major league affiliations|
|Previous||Minnesota Twins (1993–1994)|
|Minor league titles|
|League titles (0)||none|
|First half titles (1)||1993|
|Nickname||Nashville Xpress (1993–1994)|
|Colors||Red and black|
|Ballpark||Herschel Greer Stadium (1993–1994)|
The Nashville Xpress were a Minor League Baseball team of the Southern League and the Double-A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins from 1993 to 1994. They were located in Nashville, Tennessee, and played their home games at Herschel Greer Stadium. The Xpress were named in reference to trains which ran along tracks beyond the ballpark's outfield wall. The team shared the stadium with the Triple-A Nashville Sounds of the American Association.
Previously known as the Charlotte Knights of Charlotte, North Carolina, the Southern League franchise was left without a home when Charlotte moved up to become a Triple-A franchise as a part of the 1993 Major League Baseball expansion. After spending two years in Nashville, the team relocated to Wilmington, North Carolina, becoming the Port City Roosters in 1995.
In conjunction with the 1993 Major League Baseball expansion, the Double-A Charlotte Knights of the Southern League were selected to move up to Triple-A as an International League franchise. This left George Shinn's Southern League team without a home. Shinn planned to sell his Double-A franchise to Tom Benson who intended to move the team to New Orleans, Louisiana. However, the sale was cancelled when John Dikeou, owner of the Triple-A American Association's Denver Zephyrs, moved his team there after being displaced by the Colorado Rockies National League expansion team.
Southern League president Jimmy Bragen approached Larry Schmittou about placing the team at Ernie Shore Field in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, home of Schmittou's Class A-Advanced Winston-Salem Spirits of the Carolina League. The facility would have been inadequate for a Double-A team, so Schmittou offered Herschel Greer Stadium in Nashville, Tennessee, as a temporary home for the club. Greer was the home field of Schmittou's Triple-A Nashville Sounds of the American Association. In January 1993, Southern League team owners met to explore all options for the homeless franchise. In the end, they decided to accept Schmittou's offer and place the team in Nashville for one season. A one-year management arrangement was decided upon wherein Schmittou and the Sounds' staff would be responsible for taking care of Shinn's team. This marked the first time that two minor league teams would operate in the same city since 1972, when the Charlotte Hornets and Charlotte Twins shared Calvin Griffith Park.
The Nashville team was named the Xpress in reference to freight trains which traversed the railroad tracks located to the east-southeast of Greer Stadium just beyond the outfield wall. The Xpress' home games were scheduled for during the Sounds' road trips, and the team went on the road when the Sounds played at home. The Xpress played in the Southern League as the Double-A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins and were managed by former major league catcher Phil Roof. The coaching staff was rounded out by pitching coach Rick Anderson and hitting coach Mark Funderburk, both former Twins players.
The Xpress played their first game on April 8 against the Orlando Cubs at Tinker Field in Orlando, Florida. Nashville's Rich Becker reached base on an error and scored a run on Scott Stahoviak's RBI ground out in the top of the first inning. In the bottom half of the first, Orlando hit two home runs scoring four batters on the way to defeating Nashville, 5–3. The Xpress got their first win the next night as they defeated the Cubs 5–3 with help from starting pitcher Eddie Guardado, who pitched six shutout innings, and Steve Dunn, who scored the winning run on an eighth-inning three-run homer. Their home opener at Greer was played on April 16 against Orlando. Pitchers Todd Ritchie, Mike Misuraca, and Jason Klonoski limited Cubs hitters to five hits and no runs in the 4–0 shutout. Nashville's Brian Raabe doubled in the second inning bringing home David Rivera and Rich Becker giving the Xpress all the runs they needed. The game was attended by just 1,715 people on a bitterly cold evening.
The Southern League used a split-season schedule wherein the winners of each half from each of two divisions qualified for the postseason championship playoffs. The Xpress completed the first half of the season with a 40–31 record and won the first-half Western Division title. They finished the second half in fifth place, last, with a 32–39 record, suffering from late-season player promotions. In the best-of-five Western Division championship series, Nashville faced the Birmingham Barons, winners of the Western Division's second half. The Barons swept the Xpress in three straight games, eliminating Nashville from the playoffs, their only postseason appearance in franchise history. Combining both halves of the season, the Xpress' composite record stood at 72–70 for the 1993 season.
Nashville's Oscar Múñoz won the Southern League Most Outstanding Pitcher Award after ending the season tied for the league's best winning percentage (11–4, .733) and recording the second-most strikeouts (139). Outfielder Rich Becker, who co-led the league in runs scored (93), was selected for the postseason All-Star team. Marty Cordova tied for the league lead in extra-base hits (54), and pitcher Jeff Mansur tied for the lead in complete games (4). The team paced the Southern League with the most stolen bases (164) and walks (584), highest on-base percentage (.344), and fewest walks issued (396) and passed balls (9).
By the end of the season, Dennis Basteen had come to terms to purchase and relocate the Xpress to Lexington, Kentucky, but he was unable to get a new ballpark built in that city. He asked Schmittou to keep the team in Nashville for one more year.
Phil Roof and his coaching staff returned to lead the team in 1994. The Xpress began the season with an 11–3 loss to the Carolina Mudcats at Greer on April 7. Despite ending the first half with a 39–31 record, it was only good enough to place third in the Western Division, five-and-a-half games out of first place. Their last home game was played on September 1 against the Huntsville Stars. With Nashville holding a 1–0 lead going into the eighth inning, Huntsville scored three runs in both the eighth and ninth innings on the way to a 6–2 defeat of the home team. The Xpress were in contention for a wild card playoff spot, but were eliminated on the next-to-last day of the season. They closed out their 1994 schedule on the road against the Chattanooga Lookouts at Engel Stadium on September 3 in a game in which Xpress batters were limited to just two hits in a 5–0 loss. They ended the second half in fourth-place at an even 35–35, four games out of first. The team compiled a 74–66 composite record in their final season in Nashville.
Right-handed pitcher Brad Radke was named to the postseason All-Star team. Radke and fellow starter Marc Barcelo were in a three-way tie with another player for the lead in games started (28). LaTroy Hawkins tied for the best winning percentage (.818, 9–2). Nashville's pitching staff led the Southern League in earned run average (3.40) and strikeouts (917) while allowing opposing teams to steal the fewest bases (105).
After the failed attempt to relocate the team to Lexington, and even Bayamón, Puerto Rico, the Xpress left for Wilmington, North Carolina, after the season, becoming the Port City Roosters in 1995.
|Record||Win %||League||Division||GB||Record||Win %||Result|
|1993||72–70||.507||5th||3rd||6||0–3||.000||Won first-half Western Division title|
Lost Western Division title vs Birmingham Barons, 3–0
The Xpress shared Herschel Greer Stadium with the Nashville Sounds. The ballpark, which was demolished in 2019, was located on the grounds of Fort Negley, an American Civil War fortification approximately two miles (3.2 km) south of downtown Nashville. The venue experienced numerous expansions and contractions after its completion in 1978, though it reached a peak capacity of 18,000 spectators during the Xpress' occupancy. Greer's best-known feature, installed in 1993, was the giant 115.6 foot (35.2 m) guitar-shaped scoreboard behind the left field wall.
Nashville's home and road uniforms were similar to those of their major league parent, the Minnesota Twins. Home jerseys were white with black pinstripes. "Xpress" was written across the chest in red letters with a black outline. The player's number was displayed on the back in red characters surrounded by black. In 1994, a patch of the team's primary logo was added to the left sleeve. Pants were white with black pinstripes and were paired with black belts. Road uniforms were the same, except they were made of gray material. Both uniforms were worn with a black cap with a red brim and button with a white steam locomotive coming out from beneath a red "N" with a white border, as if serving as a tunnel.
- Woody 1996, p. 104.
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- O'Neal 1994, p. 283.
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