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Nashville Sounds

Nashville Sounds
Founded in 1978
Nashville, Tennessee
Team logoCap insignia
Current Triple-A (1985–present)
Previous Double-A (1978–1984)
Minor league affiliations
League Pacific Coast League (1998–present)
Conference American Conference
Division South Division
Previous leagues
American Association (1985–1997)
Southern League (1978–1984)
Major league affiliations
Current Oakland Athletics (2015–present)
Previous Milwaukee Brewers (2005–2014)
Pittsburgh Pirates (1998–2004)
Chicago White Sox (1993–1997)
Cincinnati Reds (1987–1992)
Detroit Tigers (1985–1986)
New York Yankees (1980–1984)
Cincinnati Reds (1978–1979)
Minor league titles
League titles 1979, 1982, 2005
Conference titles 2003, 2005
Division titles 1979, 1981, 1982, 1990, 1993, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007
Team data
Nickname Nashville Sounds (1978–present)

Black, red, platinum silver, white

Mascot Booster
Ballpark First Tennessee Park (2015–present)
Previous parks
Herschel Greer Stadium (1978–2014)
MFP Baseball / Nashville Sounds Baseball Club
Manager Steve Scarsone
General manager Garry Arthur

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 is partially located on the former 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 a Double-A team of the 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 25 managers have led the club and its more than 1,000 players. As of the completion of the 2014 season, the team has played in 5,301 regular season games and compiled a win–loss record of 2,728–2,573 (.515).[1]

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

The Sounds won the PCL Championship in 2005, sweeping the Tacoma Rainiers in three games in the final series. Previous league titles won by the team are the Southern League 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.

Team history

Reds era (1978–1979)

Nashville's professional baseball history dates back to 1885, beginning with the Nashville Americans. They were followed by the Blues, Tigers, Seraphs, Centennials, and Vols. The city was without a professional baseball team for 14 years after the Double-A Vols ceased operations after their 1963 season. In 1978, the Nashville Sounds were added as an expansion franchise team in the Double-A Southern League and were affiliated with the Cincinnati Reds.[2] Fans responded well to the return of baseball to the city, evidenced by Nashville leading the Southern League in attendance in each of their seven seasons as a member of the league.[4]

President and part owner Larry Schmittou, head coach of the Vanderbilt University baseball team from 1968 to 1978, was instrumental in bringing professional baseball back to Nashville. Schmittou's business philosophy revolved around earning profits not from ticket sales, but from the sale of souvenirs and concessions.[5] This philosophy also involved promoting entertainment value, or fun, instead of promoting the baseball game.[6] With the help of country music star Conway Twitty, who heard about the proposed team in local newspapers, Schmittou brought in other recording artists such as Larry Gatlin and Jerry Reed, as well as other Nashvillians, as Sounds shareholders.[4]

Original Sounds logo from 1978 to 1997

The club played their home games at a new facility, Herschel Greer Stadium, located south of downtown Nashville at the foot of St. Cloud Hill in Fort Negley Park. Schmittou allowed fans to submit suggestions for the team's name. Among the finalists were Stars, Notes, Hits, and Strings.[7] The team's name 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. Furthermore, the wordmark and color scheme were lifted from the Memphis Sounds of the American Basketball Association (ABA), who used them for one season in 1974 before the team relocated and became the Baltimore Claws. When the ABA merged with the National Basketball Association in 1976, some of the copyrights were allowed to lapse, and Nashville's baseball team adopted the abandoned schemes.[8] The color blue was added to Memphis' red and white palette. The team's original logo, which was used from 1978 to 1997, and initially sketched by Schmittou, reflects the city's association with the country music industry.[7] It depicts a mustachioed old-time baseball player swinging at a baseball with a guitar, a staple of country music, in place of a bat. Further illustrating the city's musical ties is the typeface, with letters resembling musical notes, used to display the team name. A minor league ice hockey team also owned by Schmittou from 1981 to 1984, the Nashville South Stars, used a nearly-identical (albeit hockey-themed) wordmark and logo as the Sounds, except with green and gold colors to match its affiliated NHL club, the Minnesota North Stars.

File:Skeeter Barnes.jpg
Skeeter Barnes played third base for the Sounds in 1979.

The Sounds played their first home game, a 12–4 victory, on April 26, 1978 against the Savannah Braves in front of a sellout crowd of 8,156 fans.[9] The home opener was scheduled to take place the previous evening, but was rained out.[6] The team requested to open the season on the road and had to swap a series with the Chattanooga Lookouts in order to have enough time to complete the stadium.[6] 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.[6] The sod, which arrived late, was laid the day before the scheduled opening game with the help of an estimated group of 50 fans who heard an announcement from general manager Farrell Owens on local radio stations inviting them to a "sod party".[6] As the Double-A affiliate of the Reds, the Sounds finished ninth during their inaugural campaign of 1978, but led all of minor league baseball in attendance by drawing 380,000 fans.[4]

Under manager George Scherger, the Sounds started the 1979 season poorly, before rallying to win 20 of 31 games in late May and June. They entered the last game of the first half in first place, but lost to their cross-state rivals, the Memphis Chicks and finished in second place. The Sounds and Chicks met again on the last day of the second half in a split doubleheader; both games were won by Nashville. The two teams then faced-off in a best-of-three series to determine the Western Division champion. The Sounds won the series two games to one before advancing to the Southern League championship series against the Columbus Astros. Nashville captured the league title by defeating the Astros three games to one. Also in 1979, the team played host to the Southern League All-Star Game. The contest pitted a team of the league's all-stars against the major league Atlanta Braves. The all-stars defeated the Braves, five runs to two. Nashville's Duane Walker was named the MVP.[10]

Originally, the Reds allowed Nashville to use a designated hitter in their lineup. However, this allowance was later revoked, as the Reds were a part of the National League which did not use a DH. President Larry Schmittou issued an ultimatum: if Cincinnati would not let them use the DH, they would not renew their contract and would look for a new major league affiliate. The Reds did not renege on their decision to prohibit the DH, so the Sounds looked for a new affiliate after 1979. Schmittou was then approached by five or six clubs looking to enter the Southern League as a Sounds affiliate.[6]

Yankees era (1980–1984)

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

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

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.[11] 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.[11] The Sounds won the second half of the season and went on to win the Western Division championship after defeating the Memphis Chicks in three straight games. The team suffered in the best-of-five league championship series, falling to the Orlando Twins, 3–1. Don Mattingly and Willie McGee, who both played for the Sounds in 1981, were later promoted to the major leagues. In 1985, Mattingly was named the American League Most Valuable Player and McGee named the National League MVP.[12]

The following year, second half winner Nashville met the Knoxville Blue Jays in the 1982 division playoffs. After defeating the Blue Jays, the Sounds advanced to the league championship series to play against the Jacksonville Suns. Nashville defeated the Suns, three games to one, clinching the Southern League championship, giving the franchise their second league title.[13]

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.[14] 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.[14] 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.[15] 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.[15] 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.[15] 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.[10]

The Sounds were one game shy of winning the first half pennant in 1984. Winning the first half title is something that eluded the team during its entire seven-year span at the Double-A level. Nashville captured the second half title, however, for the sixth consecutive season, after defeating Knoxville in a playoff game. The two teams met again in the divisional playoffs, but Knoxville emerged the victor, ending the Sounds' season. One important highlight of the first half of 1984 took place on May 4, when Jim Deshaies pitched the club's first no-hitter against the Columbus Astros in the second game of a seven-inning doubleheader. The 5–1 Sounds victory was cut short of being a perfect game following three walks and a batter being hit by a pitch, advancing the runner home for the only Astros run of the game.[16]

Tigers era (1985–1986)

File:Bob Melvin 2012.jpg
Bob Melvin played catcher and outfield for the Sounds in 1985.

In 1983, Sounds President Larry Schmittou noticed a 5% drop in season ticket sales, a higher ratio of no-shows from season ticket holders, and a slight decline in overall attendance.[17] These issues with spectator turnout were accompanied by a decline in local media coverage, particularly in regard to road games. In order to boost interest in the team, Schmittou tried, unsuccessfully, to purchase a Triple-A franchise late in the 1983 season. Attendance continued to drop in 1984, as season ticket sales were down 12% and overall attendance was down almost 20%.[17]

Schmittou and team owners arrived at terms in June 1984 to purchase the Evansville Triplets of the American Association, with plans to move the franchise from Evansville, Indiana, to Nashville for the 1985 season. In order to prove to the team's Nashville banks, which would back the purchase, that the move was financially viable, Schmittou commissioned a survey to evaluate the potential turnout for a Triple-A team versus a Double-A team. Though the research proved to team owners that the move was a sensible decision, the banks were not impressed. As a result, the team switched banks and went ahead with the purchase and relocation.[17] Nashville's existing Southern League franchise was moved to Huntsville, Alabama, where it became the Huntsville Stars. The Triplets' legacy was retired, and the team was moved to Nashville. The Triple-A Sounds carried on the history of the Double-A team that preceded it.

The Sounds entered the Triple-A playing level as affiliates of the Detroit Tigers in 1985. On July 17, Bryan Kelly pitched the club's second no-hitter against the Oklahoma City 89ers, a 6–0 win.[16] Nashville ended the season in second place in the Eastern Division, two and a half games out of first.[18]

In 1986, Nashville finished third in their division with a 68–74 regular season record,[19] their first losing season since the inaugural 1978 campaign. Also that season, the Sounds were enlisted to serve as the competition in the Southern League All-Star Game, held in Huntsville, Alabama. The game was won by Nashville with a score of four runs to two.[10]

Reds era, part II (1987–1992)

The Sounds rejoined the Cincinnati Reds farm system in 1987, this time as their Triple-A affiliate. As a result, a number of minor leaguers played in the Reds organization at two different levels with Nashville. Spending the beginning of the 1987 season around the top of the standings, the team hit a slump after losing a few key players mid-season. The result was a 64–76 record and a last place finish.[20] One player lost due to injuries was third baseman Chris Sabo. Sabo was promoted to Cincinnati and was also named the National League Rookie of the Year in 1988, a first for any former Sounds player.[21]

Chris Hammond played as a starting pitcher for Nashville from 1988 to 1989.

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.[22] 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.[22] Finally, former Texas Rangers manager Frank Lucchesi was hired to lead the Sounds for the rest of the season.[22] Lucchesi managed the team's last 39 games, leading them to a final record of 73–69.[23] They finished second in the East Division and were out of the playoffs.[23]

Greer Stadium was home to a rare baseball occurrence on August 6 and August 7, 1988, when Nashville and the Indianapolis Indians exchanged no-hitters on back-to-back nights. First, Indianapolis' Randy Johnson and Pat Pacillo combined for a no-hit loss against the Sounds, a 1–0 Nashville win.[24] The next night, Nashville's Jack Armstrong registered a no-hit game against the Indians, a 4–0 Sounds victory. This was the third no-hitter ever pitched by a member of the Sounds.[24]

After finishing in third-place with a 74–72 record in 1989,[25] the Sounds returned in 1990 to experience their most successful season as a part of the American Association, when they compiled an 86–61 record.[26] Finishing the regular season in a tie with the Buffalo Bisons, the Sounds won the Eastern Division championship in a one-game playoff. The extra-inning affair was ended by Chris Jones' two-run homer in the top of the eighteenth inning. The Sounds advanced to their first American Association championship series, where they lost to the Omaha Royals three games to two. That year, Nashville set their all-time attendance record when a total of 605,122 fans came out to Greer Stadium.[27]

In 1991, the Sounds started the year in first-place, where they remained for only ten days. By May 1, the team had fallen into third-place in the Eastern Division, where they remained for the rest of the season. Nashville posted a losing record every month during the season and finished the year 16 games behind the first-place Buffalo Bisons. First baseman Terry Lee, who led the Sounds in hits, RBI, runs, and home runs, was selected for the mid-season Triple-A All-Star Game and the league's post-season All-Star Team.[28] The following year was Nashville's last as a Reds affiliate. The team posted a 67–77 record, winding up in fourth-place and out of the post-season picture.[29]

White Sox era (1993–1997)

Nashville switched affiliations again in 1993, this time becoming the top farm club of the Chicago White Sox. In addition to a new affiliation, the 1993 season also brought the addition of Greer Stadium's signature guitar-shaped scoreboard. In their first year with the White Sox, the Sounds clinched the East Division title with an 81–62 record.[30] In the league championship series, the Iowa Cubs defeated the Sounds in extra innings in game seven. Nashville's Rick Renick was named the American Association Manager of the Year.[31]

The Sounds shared their ballpark with the Southern League's Nashville Xpress, previously known as the Charlotte Knights, during the 1993 and 1994 seasons. This came about when Charlotte acquired a Triple-A expansion franchise in 1993, leaving the city's Double-A team without a home. Sounds owner Larry Schmittou offered Greer Stadium as a temporary home for the team. In order to accommodate an additional team at Greer, the Xpress scheduled its home games during the Sounds' road trips. Baseball America ranked the dual Nashville teams as number one on its list of the "top 10 happenings in minor league baseball."[32] In 1995, the Xpress relocated to Wilmington, North Carolina and became the Port City Roosters.

In 1994, the Sounds earned an 83–61 record.[33] They also made their second consecutive appearance in the league's championship series. In the first round, Nashville swept the New Orleans Zephyrs in three straight games to advance to the league finals. In the best-of-five series, the Indianapolis Indians defeated the Sounds three games to one.[34] Nashville hosted the mid-season Triple-A All-Star Game in 1994. Sounds players Ray Durham, Drew Denson, and Scott Ruffcorn were selected for the event, however Ruffcorn was later placed on the disabled list and replaced by Steve Schrenk. Durham won the "Stars of Stars" award, recognizing him as the most valuable All-Star representing the American Association.[35]

The Sounds compiled a 68–76 record, 20 games out of first-place, in 1995.[36] 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.[37]

The team improved their record in 1996, ending up with 77 wins and 67 losses.[38] Despite a decent winning percentage, Nashville failed to secure a spot in the playoffs. Manager Rick Renick earned the league's Manager of the Year award, and pitcher Scott Ruffcorn lead the league with thirteen wins. This season marked the last that Larry Schmittou was the team's principal owner. With the city prepared to welcome a National Football League franchise, the Tennessee Titans, Schmittou felt that revenue would be drawn away from his baseball team. He sold his entire financial interest in the Sounds to Al Gordon, president of AmeriSports Companies LLC.[6] The following year, Nashville put together a 74–68 season,[39] again failing to win either half of the season, leaving them out of the post-season. In addition to being selected for both the mid-season and post-season All-Star teams, outfielder Magglio Ordóñez garnered the league's Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player awards.[31]

Pirates era (1998–2004)

Following the 1997 season, the American Association, of which the Sounds were a member, disbanded, and 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). The franchise also picked up a new major league affiliation, becoming the top farm club of the Pittsburgh Pirates. For the first time since the team's foundation in 1978, the Sounds adopted a new logo, color scheme, and uniforms.[40] The original red, white, and blue colors were replaced by black and red. The new team logo, replacing the original mustachioed guitar swinger, consisted of a black and red music note enclosed in a circle of the same colors bearing the team name.

In 1998, the team's first season as a Pirates affiliate, the Sounds finished last in the division with a 67–76 record.[41] Improving from the previous year, the 1999 team put together an 80–60 record,[42] but their second-place finish left them out of the post-season picture. Sounds second baseman Matt Howard led the league in fielding percentage (.982) and fewest strikeouts per plate appearance (1:18.2). Pitcher Jimmy Anderson led the PCL in winning percentage (.846, 11–2).[43]

Nashville finished the 2000 season with a 63–79 record, resulting in a last-place finish in the divisional standings.[44] 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, putting them in third-place and out of the playoffs.[45] Outfielder Tike Redman tied Iowa's Ross Gload with a league-leading 10 triples.[46] Redman also holds the Sounds franchise record for the most triples (30) during his career with the team.[47] On June 30, Redman became the first Sounds player to hit for the cycle.[48] The Sounds scored a third-place divisional finish with a 72–71 record in 2002.[49] 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).[47]

On April 7, 2003, right-hander John Wasdin pitched the first perfect game in Nashville Sounds history in his first start of the season against the Albuquerque Isotopes.[50] The 4–0 Sounds win was only the second nine-inning perfect game in PCL history.[51] That year, manager Trent Jewett led the Sounds to an 81–62 record.[52] The team clinched the Eastern Division title, giving them their first post-season berth as a member of the Pacific Coast League and first post-season appearance since 1994. Nashville met Albuquerque in the American Conference championship series, defeating the Isotopes three games to one. The Sounds went on to lose the best-of-five league championship series in three straight games to the Sacramento River Cats.

On May 21, 2004, catcher J. R. House became the second Sounds player (after Tike Redman in 2001) to hit for the cycle.[53] The team completed the 2004 campaign with a 63–79 record, finishing last in the division.[54] 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.[21]

Brewers era (2005–2014)

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.[55] The Sounds' new affiliation started well as the club captured the 2005 Pacific Coast League championship, Nashville's first professional title since the Sounds' previous league crown in 1982. Managed by Frank Kremblas and featuring top prospects such as Rickie Weeks, Prince Fielder, Nelson Cruz, and Corey Hart, the Sounds won the American North Division title on the second-to-last day of the season. In the conference championship, Nashville defeated the Oklahoma RedHawks three games to two. The Sounds went on to defeat the Tacoma Rainiers in three straight games to capture the league title.[56]

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.[57] 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.[58] Additionally, several team and league records were broken by both teams. The record was originally set on June 8, 1909 in a game between the San Francisco Seals and Oakland Oaks. A few years later, on September 10, 1911, the record was tied by a contest between the Sacramento Solons and Portland Beavers.[58] The Sounds finished the season with a 76–68 record, tied with the Iowa Cubs for first-place in the American North Division.[59] Nashville won the division title and advanced to the post-season by means of a tiebreaker (winning the regular season series versus Iowa nine games to seven). In the conference championship series, Nashville lost to the Round Rock Express, three games to two.[60]

File:Ryan Braun.jpg
Ryan Braun played third base for the Sounds in 2007.

The 2007 Sounds featured 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.[21] On June 25, Manny Parra pitched the club's second perfect game, only the third nine-inning perfect game in PCL history, against the Round Rock Express.[3] The team, led by PCL Manager of the Year Frank Kremblas, captured the American North Division title for the third straight year and finished the season with a league best .618 winning percentage (89–55).[61] In the conference championship series, they were defeated by the New Orleans Zephyrs, three games to one.[62]

On June 14, 2008, following massive flooding in the Midwest, the Sounds and the Iowa Cubs played a game with an official attendance of zero.[63] 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.[63] The Sounds were further affected by weather when Hurricane Gustav forced the cancellation of the last three games of their season against the New Orleans Zephyrs.[64] The team's 59–81 record (.421) is the second-lowest in the team's history.[65]

On October 30, 2008, Amerisports Companies LLC entered into an agreement to sell the Sounds to MFP Baseball, a New York-based group of investors consisting of Masahiro Honzawa, Steve Posner, and Frank Ward. George King, PCL Vice President of Business and Operations, said that keeping the team in Nashville was one of the league's top criteria for approval of the sale.[66] The transaction received final approval from Major League Baseball and the PCL on February 26, 2009.[67] MFP made significant renovations to Greer Stadium while it continued to explore building a new downtown ballpark for the club.[67][68] King was later selected to be the franchise's new general manager.[67]

Rebounding from their 2008 campaign, the 2009 Sounds achieved a 75–69 record under new manager Don Money.[69] 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, it was only good enough to place fourth (last) in the division.[70]

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.[71] Center fielder Logan Schafer garnered national media attention when he initiated a triple play on August 20 against the Omaha Storm Chasers.[72][73] 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.[74] Nashville ended the year with a 71–73 record, placing third in their division.[75]

The Sounds finished the 2012 season in second place with a losing 67–77 record under new manager Mike Guerrero.[76] Nashville set a franchise record low win–loss record in 2013. The 57–87 season eclipsed the previous franchise record (59–81) set in 2008.[77] Despite this performance, pitcher Johnny Hellweg won the PCL Pitcher of the Year award and was named to the PCL post-season All-Star Team.[77][78]

As part of a PCL realignment plan, Nashville moved from the American Conference's North Division to the conference's South Division in 2014.[79] The Sounds' divisional opponents became the Memphis Redbirds, New Orleans Zephyrs, and Round Rock Express. Veteran minor league manager Rick Sweet was selected to be the team's new manager for 2014.[80] Also during the offseason, the Sounds, Metro Nashville, and the State of Tennessee entered into an agreement to build a new ballpark to replace Greer Stadium at the beginning of the 2015 season.[81]

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.[82] 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.[83] The team finished the season with a 76–67 record, in second place, two-and-a-half games behind the Memphis Redbirds.[84] 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.[85]

Athletics era (2015–present)

File:Nashville Sounds, April 19, 2015.JPG
Sounds players warming up before a game at First Tennessee Park

Nashville entered into a four-year player development contract, a working agreement between a major and minor league baseball team, with the Oakland Athletics that runs from 2015 through 2018.[86] The team also adopted a new color scheme, set of logos, and uniforms before the season.[87] The new identity originally included the use of colors Broadway Burnt Orange, Sunburst Tan, Neon Orange, and Cash Black,[87] however, the team returned to the previous red and black color scheme while adding platinum silver as an accent color before the start of the season following mixed feedback from Sounds fans.[88] The new logos incorporate elements that reflect Nashville's "Music City" moniker, such as guitars, guitar picks, and a guitar's sound hole.[88]

The start of the 2015 season marked the first time that the Sounds played at the new downtown First Tennessee Park.[89] 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.[90] Prior to the game, Mayor Karl Dean threw out the ceremonial first pitch.[90] "The Star-Spangled Banner" was performed by Charles Esten (a star of the television series Nashville), who also sang at the park's ribbon-cutting ceremony earlier in the day.[90]

Season-by-season results

Nashville Sounds 5-Year History
Year Regular Season Post-season
Record Win % League Division GB Record Win % Result
2010 77–67 .535 5th 4th 5
2011 71–73 .496 6th (tie) 3rd 9
2012 67–77 .465 12th 2nd 16
2013 57–87 .396 16th 4th 13
2014 77–67 .535 5th 2nd
5-Year Totals 349–371 .485 0 division titles, 0 conference titles, and 0 league titles


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

Nashville's chief rivals have been those based in Memphis, Tennessee. Located approximately Script error: No such module "convert". to the south west 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. The first meeting between Nashville and Memphis teams occurred in 1885 when the Nashville Americans, the city's first professional team, played in the original Southern League against the Memphis Reds.[91] In 1886, the Americans competed against the Memphis Grays.[92] The Nashville Blues played against the Memphis Browns in 1887.[93] The Nashville Tigers competed with the Memphis Fever Germs in 1893 and the Memphis Giants in 1894.[94][95] In 1895, the Giants/Lambs played with the Nashville Seraphs.[96] From 1901 to 1960, the Nashville Vols faced competition in the Memphis Egyptians (1901–08),[97] Memphis Turtles (1909–11),[98] and Memphis Chickasaws (1912–60).[99]

During this period, several Negro league teams from the two cities competed in the Negro Southern League. The Nashville White Sox competed against the Memphis Red Sox from 1920 to 1922.[100] In 1926 and from 1930 to 1932 and 1935 to 1936, the Red Sox faced off against the Nashville Elite Giants.[100] The Nashville Cubs competed with the Memphis Blues in 1947 and the Red Sox in 1950.[100]

After 60 continuous years of minor league baseball games being played between Memphis and Nashville, a lapse occurred in the rivalry from 1961 to 1977. Competition resumed when the Nashville Sounds became a part of the Southern League in 1978.[101] The Sounds played in the West Division against the Memphis Chicks. In 1979, the Chicks won the first half of the division and the Sounds won the second half. In the best-of-three division finals, the Sounds defeated the Chicks in two out of three games before going on to win the Southern League Championship.[102] 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.[102] 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.[102]

The interstate rivalry was interrupted again when Nashville moved to the American Association in 1985, but was renewed when the Sounds joined the Pacific Coast League in 1998.[103] The Sounds and Redbirds were division rivals in the American Conference East Division from 1998 to 2004,[103] the American Conference North Division from 2005 to 2013,[104] and the American Conference South Division since 2014.[105] In 2009, Memphis clinched the American Conference North Division title, finishing the season just two games ahead of Nashville which spent the majority of the season in first place.[106] Similarly, Nashville finished the 2014 season two-and-a-half games behind Memphis after having led the division for most of the season.[84]

As of the completion of the 2014 series, Memphis leads the all-time series against Nashville with a record of 889–864.[107] This record encompasses all 90 years of competition in the original Southern League, Southern Association, Southern League, and Pacific Coast League. Nashville, however, leads the all-time PCL series with a record of 148–126.[108] In 2012, the two teams established the Tennessee Lottery I-40 Cup Series, a season-long, 16-game series between the clubs.[108] Whichever of the two wins most games played between them is declared the winner and gets to keep the trophy cup until the next season. The losing team donates game tickets to a charity selected by the winner. The Sounds won the inaugural contest (9–7), and Memphis won the 2013 series (7–9).[108] The teams tied the 2014 series (8–8), but the Redbirds won the cup via tie-breaker by scoring more runs than the Sounds (68–61) in meetings between the teams.[109]


Herschel Greer Stadium (1978–2014)

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,[110] but seated 10,300 spectators during its final 2014 season.[111] Its best known feature is the giant Script error: No such module "convert". 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.[112] At the time, owner Larry Schmittou tried to convince the city to approve a new ballpark, but was unsuccessful.[112] Throughout the 2000s, the team continued in its attempts to gather approval and financing for a new ballpark to replace Greer.[113] 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 field, and eventually resulted in the cancellation of the project altogether.[114] In the meantime, numerous upgrades and repairs, including over $3.5 million worth of improvements from 2008 to 2009,[115] were made to Greer in order to preserve its functionality until a new stadium could be built.[115] A deal for such a new ballpark was achieved in late 2013. The Sounds played their final game at Greer on August 27, 2014.[83]

First Tennessee Park (2015–present)

Main article: First Tennessee Park

The Sounds' current home ballpark is First Tennessee Park, which opened on April 17, 2015.[89] It is located in downtown Nashville at the location of the former Sulphur Dell ballpark.[116] Construction on the $47 million stadium began with a ceremonial groundbreaking on January 27, 2014.[117] The stadium has a fixed seating capacity of 8,500 people, but can accommodate up to 10,000 people with additional berm seating.[118] 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 entertainment and sports heritage.[119]

Like Greer Stadium before it, one of First Tennessee Park's most recognizable features is a Script error: No such module "convert". guitar-shaped scoreboard beyond the right-center field wall.[119][120] 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 and animations, the batting order, fielding positions, expanded statistics, and player photographs.[121]


Nashville Sounds uniforms during the 2015 season

Nashville's current uniforms, which were adopted in 2015, use a similar color scheme to that which was used from 1998 through 2014. The palette consists of red, black, platinum silver, and white.[88] Additionally, new uniforms and logos incorporate elements that reflect Nashville's "Music City" moniker.[88] 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 Oakland Athletics elephant logo is sewn on the right sleeve. 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 silver and black borders. 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.[122]

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", and the cap bears a guitar pick logo with an "S" in place of an "N".[122] The team wears an alternate uniform for all Friday games. The uniform consists of a black mesh jersey paired with black pants, both with the same red piping, guitar logo, and player's name and number as used on home and road uniforms. The other differences are having "Music City" written across the chest, the player's name written in red characters, being worn with a cap which bears an "MC" over a guitar pick, and being paired with red socks.[122] The batting practice cap is solid red with the guitar patch on the front.[122] A black mesh cap with the same logo is worn for Sunday games.[122] A second set of alternate uniforms honoring the 1940 Nashville Vols are worn for Thursday home games in conjunction with Throwback Thursday promotions.[123] These jerseys are made of white material with a royal blue Vols "V" logo displayed on the left chest.[123] They are paired with white pants and worn with a blue belt and two-toned white/royal blue socks.[123] The cap is royal blue with a red block "N" on the front.[123]


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, red, and white palette. Both color schemes were visible during the 1998 season.

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.[124] 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.[125] 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.[125]

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 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.[126] 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.[126] 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. The new all-blue cap added the guitar-swinger logo to accompany the "N."[127] The two caps were worn interchangeably through 1998.

The team switched to a red, black, and white color scheme over the course of the 1998 and 1999 seasons.[40] In the latter season, uniforms consisted of pinstriped pants and jerseys, with black sleeves bearing a music note logo on the left sleeve.[126] There was also an alternate jersey made of red fabric with black and gray trim around the sleeve opening 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.[128] 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. Players wore these vest-like jerseys over black T-shirts of varying sleeve lengths.[129] 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.[129]

From 2013 to 2014, team jerseys were made of mesh-like material with black underarm sections at the armpits and a single line of black piping going down the sleeves and across the shoulders to the neck. A 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.[130]

Uniform Timeline

Radio and television

For a more comprehensive list, see List of Nashville Sounds broadcasters.

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

Steve Selby served as the lead broadcaster for the Sounds from 1996 to 1999. Chuck Valenches, a former assistant broadcaster, was promoted to the role of lead broadcaster at the beginning of 2000. Stu Paul was the Sounds' play-by-play broadcaster for the 2010 and 2011 seasons.[131] Since 2012, Jeff Hem has been the team's lead broadcaster.[132] All Sounds home and road games are broadcast on WPRT 102.5 FM or its sister station, WQZQ 94.9 FM.[132] Live audio broadcasts are also available online through the team's website.[132]

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. Sounds home games were regularly televised by WZTV from 1982 to 1992. A few games were also aired by WNPX in 1999.[133] From 2005 to 2008,[134] 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.[134] 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.[134]


File:Nashville Sounds mascot Booster.JPG
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 yellow and orage 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.[135]

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.[136]

From 1995 to 1996, a lime-green dinosaur named Champ was the team's mascot.[137] Following altercations with team management and league personnel during games, Champ, vis-à-vis his performer, did not return for the 1997 season.[138]

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 uniform. 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.[139] In 1997, the Ozzie costume was identical to the brown cougar costume which is still in use by Kane County. In 1998, a new yellow costume was introduced. 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.[135]

Faith Nights

An example of a bobblehead, depicting Jonah, given to fans in 2006

In addition to promotions that are synonymous with minor league baseball like giveaways, theme nights, fireworks nights, and discounted ticket or concessions nights, the Nashville Sounds also host what are called Faith Nights. In 2002, the Sounds became the first sports team to host Faith Night promotions.[140] These Christian-based promotional evenings include pre-game concerts from Christian music artists, Bible-themed bobblehead giveaways, and testimonials from players about their faith. Artists performing at Nashville's Greer Stadium in the past include Jars of Clay, Hawk Nelson, and Matthew West. Brent High, then Vice President of Sales for the Sounds, and Mike Snider, the president and owner of Third Coast Sports, an entertainment and sports marketing firm in Nashville, are credited with developing the promotion.[141]

Since their inception, Faith Nights have been among the top-ten most-attended games each season.[142] During Faith Nights in 2004, the Sounds experienced a 93% increase in attendance over their average season attendance for non-Faith Night dates; over 500 church groups attended these games.[141] That fall, the team partnered with the Nashville Area Habitat for Humanity to build a home for a family in need. The team raised more than $45,000 from donations and 10% of ticket proceeds on Faith Nights.[143]

The promotion has since been adopted by at least 40 other minor league teams. It has also been used by major league teams such as the Atlanta Braves and St. Louis Cardinals. Teams from the National Football League and National Basketball Association have also shown interest in holding Faith Night promotions.[142] The program has garnered national media attention for the Sounds from The New York Times and National Public Radio.[142][144]


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







10px 7-day disabled list
* On Oakland Athletics 40-man roster
∞ Reserve list
§ Suspended list
‡ Restricted list
# Rehab assignment
Roster updated May 30, 2015
Transactions · Coaching staff
More MiLB rosters
Oakland Athletics minor league players

Retired numbers

Nashville has honored two of its players by retiring their uniform numbers.[145] When a number is retired, only the player with the retired number can wear that number if he returns to that team as a player or coach. This ensures that the number will be associated with one player of particular importance to the team.

130px 130px 130px
Skeeter Barnes Don Mattingly Jackie Robinson
1B / 3B / OF
1979, 1988–1990
Retired early 1990s
1B / OF
Retired August 12, 1999
Retired throughout
professional baseball
on April 15, 1997

Hall of Famers

Two people associated with the Sounds have been elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Hoyt Wilhelm, who served as the team's pitching coach from 1982 to 1984,[146] was elected in 1985.[147] Shortstop Barry Larkin, who was elected in 2012,[148] made two appearances with the Sounds during a rehabilitation assignment in 1989.[149]


File:Don Money 1975.JPG
Don Money, Sounds manager from 2009 to 2011
For a complete list of all-time Sounds managers and owners, see List of Nashville Sounds managers and owners.
Nashville Sounds Managerial Record (Last Five Managers)
# Manager Years Regular Season Post-season
Games Wins Losses Win % Appearances Wins Losses Win %
21 Frank Kremblas 2005–2008 572 299 273 .523 3 9 8 .529
22 Don Money 2009–2011 432 223 209 .516
23 Mike Guerrero 2012–2013 288 124 164 .431
24 Charlie Greene[a] 2013 9 2 7 .222
25 Rick Sweet 2014 144 77 67 .535
Totals 1,445 725 720 .502 3 9 8 .529
a Greene served as an interim manager for nine games in May 2013 while manager Mike Guerrero was on bereavement leave.[150]

See also


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