History of the Nashville Sounds

A red, white, and blue cartoon baseball player swings at a baseball with a guitar in place of a bat set against a baseball with "Nashville Sounds" written above in red letters with blue border
The Sounds' original "Slugger" logo, used from 1978 to 1998

The Nashville Sounds Minor League Baseball team was established in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1978, after Larry Schmittou and a group of investors purchased the rights to operate an expansion franchise of the Double-A Southern League. The Sounds played their home games at Herschel Greer Stadium from its opening in 1978 until the end of the 2014 season. In 2015, the Sounds left Greer for First Tennessee Park, now known as First Horizon Park, a new facility located on the site of the historic Sulphur Dell ballpark, home to Nashville's minor league teams from 1885 to 1963.

The Sounds led all of Minor League Baseball in attendance in their inaugural season and continued to draw the Southern League's largest crowds in each of their seven years as members of the league. On the field, the team won six consecutive second half titles from 1979 to 1984 and won the Southern League championship twice: 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.

In an effort to position Nashville to contend for a Major League Baseball franchise in the future, Schmittou and team owners purchased the Triple-A Evansville Triplets of the American Association and relocated the team to Nashville before the 1985 season. The Triple-A Sounds carried on the history of the Double-A team that preceded it. The team rarely contended for the American Association championship, making only three appearances in the postseason during their 13 years in the league.

The Sounds became members of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League (PCL) in 1998 following the dissolution of the American Association after the end of the previous season. After a quiet start in the PCL, the team won four division titles, two American Conference titles, and one PCL championship between 2003 and 2007. Their lone PCL title was won in 2005 as the Triple-A affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers. The only time the Sounds have qualified for the postseason since was in 2016 when they won the division championship but were eliminated in the conference series.

Prior professional baseball in NashvilleEdit

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 of the original Southern League from 1885 to 1886 and played their home games at Athletic Park, later renamed Sulphur Dell.[1][2] 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.[3] The Nashville Tigers competed for the city in the same league from 1893 to 1894.[3] In 1895, the Nashville Seraphs won the city's first professional championship in the Southern League.[3] The Nashville Centennials played in the Central League in 1897 but relocated to Henderson, Indiana, during the season before the league's collapse.[4]

The city's longest-operating baseball team, first known only as the Nashville Baseball Club and later renamed the Nashville Vols (short for Volunteers), was formed in 1901 as a charter member of the Southern Association.[5] They remained in the league through 1961, winning eight pennants, nine playoff championships, and four Dixie Series titles.[6][7] 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.[8] Sulphur Dell was demolished in 1969,[9] and the city went without a professional baseball team for 14 years until 1978.[8]

Getting a team and building a ballparkEdit

 
Larry Schmittou led the group that purchased a Southern League expansion franchise and financed the construction of its ballpark.

Larry Schmittou, head coach of the Vanderbilt Commodores baseball team from 1968 to 1978,[10] was instrumental in bringing professional baseball back to Nashville. He was inspired to get involved with Minor League Baseball when he observed the large crowds the Chattanooga Lookouts saw after owner Walter Reed acquired the Birmingham Barons and relocated the team to Chattanooga in 1976.[11][12] 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.[11]

Schmittou learned from a member of the Metro Board of Parks and Recreation that neither the Parks Board or the city of Nashville would be willing to pay for such a park.[11] So, Schmittou, along with help from country musician Conway Twitty, put together a group of investors including other country artists Cal Smith and Jerry Reed, as well as other Nashvillians, to finance a stadium and a minor league team.[13][14] Twenty shares valued at US$15,000 each were issued; Schmittou purchased 2 shares, or 10 percent of the team,[15] and Twitty purchased 4 shares for a 20 percent stake.[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 (3.2 km) south of downtown, for a period of 20 years as long as 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]

 
Herschel Greer Stadium, home of the Sounds for 37 years from 1978 to 2014

Stoll-Reed Architects advised Schmittou that construction of a suitable stadium would cost between $300,000 and $500,000,[17][18] but bids for the project ranged from $980,000 to $1.2 million.[17] Schmittou looked to local suppliers to donate construction materials, took out a $30,000 loan from a bank, sold season tickets in advance of having a team, and even mortgaged his own home to help pay for the facility.[18] The actual cost totaled $1.5 million.[16] 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, 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 major league affiliate. 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 the pair and agreed to put a team in Nashville provided a stadium was built.[20] Schmittou was then granted a franchise in the Southern League, a class Double-A league, at an enfranchisement cost of $7,500.[21]

Fans were invited 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.[23][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 baseball player, nicknamed "Slugger", swinging at a baseball with a guitar, a staple of country music, in place of a bat.[23] Further illustrating the city's musical ties was the typeface, with letters that resembled G-clefs, used to display the team name and the cap logo which resembled an eighth note.[26]

Southern LeagueEdit

Cincinnati Reds (1978–1979)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.[27] As the Double-A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds,[27] the Sounds played their first game on April 15, 1978, against the Memphis Chicks at Memphis' Tim McCarver Stadium, which they lost, 4–2.[28] After falling behind in the first inning, 1–0, Nashville tied the game in the third and went ahead, 2–1, in the top of the sixth on first baseman George Weicker's single which scored center fielder Mickey Duval. In the bottom of the inning, however, Memphis answered with three unearned runs off of Sounds starting pitcher Bill Dawley and reliever Larry Rothschild, sealing the Nashville loss.[29] The Sounds recorded their first win the next evening, defeating Memphis, 3–0.[30] Pitchers Bruce Berenyi and Doug Corbett limited the Chicks to just three hits while catcher Mark Miller drove in a run with a third inning double and later scored on second baseman Randy Davidson's sacrifice fly. The Sounds padded their lead in the fifth inning on outfielder Tony Moretto's RBI double.[31]

Meanwhile, construction on Greer Stadium continued in order to be ready for the home opener. The team had requested to begin the season on the road and had to swap a series with the Chattanooga Lookouts to have enough time to complete the stadium.[18] Much of the sod that had been installed that winter died, and the replacement sod, which arrived late, had to be laid the day before the planned opening game.[32]

 
A game during the 1978 season in which Nashville led all of Minor League Baseball in attendance when 380,000 people visited Greer Stadium

The Greer home opener was scheduled to take place the evening of April 25, but was rained out and rescheduled for the next night.[33] 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.[34] Tractors and grading machines were still preparing the field on game day, the electricity was turned on only 5 minutes before the gates opened, and the game's start was delayed 30 minutes because of traffic problems around the stadium.[18][34] On the field, Sounds catcher Joe Griffin led the 16-hit Nashville offense with 4 hits of his own and 5 runs batted in (RBI) while starter Bruce Berenyi got the win and closer Doug Corbett earned a save after he retired 11 batters in a row.[35]

The Sounds, under manager Chuck Goggin, finished the first half of their inaugural season with a 28–36 record in fourth place.[36] 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.[37] Another fourth-place finish at 36–41 in the second half kept Nashville out of the playoffs.[38] Combining both halves of the season, the Sounds' composite record stood at 64–77 for their first season of play.[39] All-Star pitcher Bruce Berenyi was selected for the league's Most Outstanding Pitcher Award.[40][41]

The team had more success at the turnstiles than on the field. The Sounds led all of Minor League Baseball in attendance by drawing 380,000 fans to Greer Stadium in their first season.[14] Nashville went on to lead the Southern League in attendance in each of their seven seasons as members of the league.[14] Schmittou's business philosophy revolved around earning profits not from ticket sales, but from the sale of souvenirs and concessions.[42] This philosophy also involved promoting family-friendly entertainment rather than baseball games.[18][43] Through the mid 1980s, the Sounds offered nightly promotions and treated fans to a carnival-like atmosphere between innings.[43][44] Schmittou and his team developed a promotional calendar that regularly featured giveaways ranging from T-shirts and trading cards to youth baseball equipment and even a player's used 1969 Buick Electra.[44][45] Other promotions varied from discount ticket nights and buyout nights, where local businesses gave away tickets,[43] to the more unusual "Tight Fittin' Jeans" Contest in which the woman wearing the tightest jeans would win a pair.[46] 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.[47] Schmittou was chosen for the Southern League Executive of the Year Award and Sporting News Double-A Executive of the Year Award in 1978.[48]

 
Dave Van Gorder's three-RBI triple propelled the Sounds to win the 1979 Southern League championship.

Under manager George Scherger, the Sounds started the 1979 season poorly, before rallying to win 20 of 30 games in late May and June. They entered the last day of the first half in first place, but lost their game to their cross-state rivals, the Chicks, and finished in second at 35–34, a mere half game from winning the first half title.[49] The Sounds and Chicks met again on the last day of the second half in a split doubleheader; both games were won by Nashville to give them a 48–27 second half record and the second half title.[50][51] 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 league championship series against the Columbus Astros.[52] Nashville entered game four one win away from capturing their first Southern League championship. In the top of the ninth inning with the game tied 2–2 and the bases loaded, Sounds catcher Dave Van Gorder hit a bases-clearing triple giving his team the lead.[53] Reliever Geoff Combe struck out the last two batters in bottom half of the inning on the way to a 6–2 Sounds win,[53] a three-games-to-one series victory, and the Southern League title.[54] 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.[16] Combe, with a league-leading 27 saves,[55] won the league's Most Outstanding Pitcher Award.[41] The Sounds compiled an 83–61 composite record in their sophomore season.[56]

Earlier in the season, Nashville played host to the 1979 Southern League All-Star Game. The July 12 contest pitted a team of the league's All-Stars against the major league Atlanta Braves. The All-Stars, coached by Nashville's Scherger, defeated the Braves, 5–2, before a crowd of 11,079 fans.[57] Nashville was further represented by All-Stars Geoff Combe, Paul Householder, Dave Van Gorder, and Duane Walker.[57] Walker, who hit an RBI single, drew a walk, stole two bases, and initiated a double play from center field by snagging a low line drive and throwing out a runner at home plate, was selected as the game's Most Valuable Player (MVP).[58]

The Reds originally 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. 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 DH, so the Sounds looked for a new parent club after 1979. Schmittou was then approached by five or six clubs looking to enter the Southern League as a Sounds affiliate.[18] After two seasons at Double-A for the Reds, Nashville had a 147–138 record.[59]

New York Yankees (1980–1984)Edit

 
The 1980 Sounds set a franchise-best 97–46 record and swept the Southern League awards with Steve Balboni as the MVP, Andy McGaffigan as the ace pitcher, and Stump Merrill as the top manager.

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 of the Year Stump Merrill,[60] the 1980 Sounds finished the first half of the season one-and-a-half games behind the Memphis Chicks with a 46–25 record in second place.[61] In the second half, the team finished atop the division, 15 games ahead of the second-place Montgomery Rebels, at 51–21.[62] In the Western Division championship series, Nashville lost to Memphis, three games to one.[52] Nine Southern League records were set during the season, the team's pitching staff led the league in ERA and strikeouts, and Steve Balboni, All-Star outfielder and league MVP,[63][64] led the league with 101 runs, 34 home runs, 122 RBI, and 288 total bases.[65] Andy McGaffigan was selected as the circuit's top pitcher after he led the league with a 2.38 ERA.[66][41] The Sounds also set a league attendance record, which still stands as of the completion of the 2018 season, when a total of 575,676 fans visited Greer Stadium.[27] Their 97–46 record is the team's all-time best.[59][67] The 1980 Sounds were ranked as the sixty-ninth greatest minor league baseball team of all-time by baseball historians in 2001.[27]

On April 16, 1981, the 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 people.[68] Those on hand for the game included Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, coach Yogi Berra, and players Reggie Jackson, Dave Winfield, Lou Piniella, Willie Randolph, and Bobby Murcer.[68][69] The Sounds ended the first half at 38–32 in second place behind Memphis.[70] They won the second half of the season with a 43–30 record and went on to win the Western Division championship by defeating the Chicks in three straight games.[52][71] Ultimately, Nashville suffered defeat in the league championship series, falling to the Orlando Twins, 3–1.[52] Nashville compiled an 81–62 record during the season under Merrill.[72] All-Star right-hander Jamie Werly won the Southern League Most Outstanding Pitcher Award after leading the circuit with 18 complete games and 193 strikeouts.[41][73][74]

 
Brian Dayett hit a walk-off home run to win the 1982 Southern League title and was selected as the league MVP.

The 1982 Sounds, led by manager Johnny Oates, ended the first half in fourth place at 32–38,[75] but won the second half, 45–29.[76] After defeating the Knoxville Blue Jays, 3–1, in the Western Division playoffs, the Sounds advanced to the league championship series against the Jacksonville Suns.[52] With a 2–1 series lead, Nashville entered game four with a chance to win their second Southern League championship in front of a home crowd at Greer. The Sounds led 3–1 after eight innings, but the Suns tied things up in the ninth sending the game to extra innings.[77] With two outs in the bottom of the thirteenth inning, outfielder Brian Dayett hit a walk-off home run scoring Buck Showalter and giving the Sounds a 5–3 win.[77] Nashville had won the series, 3–1, and won the franchise's second league pennant.[54] The team's season record was 77–67.[78] Dayett, an All-Star, was selected as the Southern League MVP.[64][79] Stefan Wever, who was also voted onto the All-Star team and paced the league with 191 strikeouts and a 2.78 ERA,[79][80] was the league's Most Outstanding Pitcher.[41] Wever was the fifth Sounds hurler in five years to win the award. Otis Nixon stole 133 bases during the 1981 and 1982 seasons, setting the franchise career record.[81] The Sounds set the club's and Greer Stadium's all-time single-game attendance record on August 18, 1982, when 22,315 people watched the Sounds defeat the Columbus Astros, 3–0.[82][83] Portions of the outfield had to be roped off to accommodate the crowd, which was far in excess of Greer's seating capacity.[83]

The Yankees returned for another exhibition game against the Sounds on April 28, 1983. New York had a 4–0 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.[84] The tying and winning runs came off the bat of catcher Frank Kneuer who doubled down the left-field line bringing home Matt Gallegos and Derwin McNealy from second and first.[84] Among the Yankees in attendance for the game were owner George Steinbrenner, manager Billy Martin, coach Yogi Berra, and players Goose Gossage, Ken Griffey Sr., Dave Winfield, Willie Randolph, Bobby Murcer, and former Sound Don Mattingly.[84] After the season's first half, Nashville held a 40–32 record, but that was only good enough for second place.[85] 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 $10 fine for a pitcher walking a batter with one on and two outs to a $100 fine for missing curfew.[86] Rebounding, Nashville won the second half pennant, 48–26, earning a shot at the Western Division championship.[87] The Sounds, however, lost the decisive fifth game of the series to the Birmingham Barons, 7–5, ending their season.[52] Nashville finished 30 games over .500, with an 88–58 record.[88]

Also in the 1983 season, on June 19, the Southern League All-Star Game returned to Nashville. As the reigning league champions, the Sounds were enlisted to serve as the All-Stars' competition. Consequently, no Sounds player could be voted on to All-Star team. In lieu of this, the league chose to recognize all Sounds players as All-Stars.[89] The league's team bested Nashville, 3–2, before an audience of 1,221 people who waited out nearly an hour's rain delay.[90] Nashville's Erik Peterson struck out with both the tying and winning runs on base to end the game.[90]

The Sounds were three games shy of winning the first half pennant in 1984, with a second-place 38–33 record.[91] Winning the first half title is something that eluded the team during its entire seven-year span in the Southern League.[92] One highlight of the first half 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 Astros' lone run was scored following three walks and a batter being hit by a pitch, advancing a runner home.[93] Nashville finished the second half tied for first place with the Birmingham Barons with identical 35–40 records.[94] On September 4, the Sounds defeated the Barons in a one-game playoff, 3–2 in 10 innings, to win the second half title for the sixth consecutive season.[94] The Sounds met the Knoxville Blue Jays in the Western Division finals, but Knoxville emerged the victor, winning three games to one.[52] Skipper Jim Marshall led his Sounds to a 74–73 record for the season.[95] Nashville accumulated a 417–306 record during their five-year affiliation with the Yankees.[59] They had a 564–444 record over their seven years in the Southern League at Double-A.[59]

American AssociationEdit

In 1983, Sounds President Larry Schmittou noticed a 5 percent drop in season ticket sales, a higher ratio of no-shows from season ticket holders, and a slight decline in overall attendance.[96] These issues with spectator turnout were accompanied by a decline in local media coverage, particularly in regard to road games. To boost interest in the team, Schmittou tried to purchase a Triple-A franchise late in the 1983 season, but each of the two teams he considered chose to continue in their markets for 1984.[97] 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 Baseball franchise in the future.[98] Attendance continued to drop in 1984, as season ticket sales were down 12 percent and overall attendance was down almost 20 percent.[96]

Schmittou arrived at terms in July 1984 to purchase the Triple-A Evansville Triplets of the American Association for a reported sum of $780,000, with plans to move the franchise from Evansville, Indiana, to Nashville for the 1985 season.[98] 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.[96] The Southern League wanted Schmittou to surrender his franchise to the league, but he had plans to relocate the team instead.[99] He 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.[99] 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.[99]

Detroit Tigers (1985–1986)Edit

The Sounds entered the Triple-A playing level in 1985 as a member the American Association affiliated with the Detroit Tigers, continuing the major league affiliation that was in place with the Evansville franchise.[98] They played their first Triple-A game on April 11, a 3–1 win, against the Buffalo Bisons at Greer Stadium.[100] The home team scored all the runs they needed in the first inning. With the bases loaded following a walk, an error, and a batter being hit by a pitch, outfielder Bobby Mitchell scored on a passed ball with a head-first slide, and designated hitter Ron Johnson drove in shortstop Pedro Chavez from third on an infield out.[101] The Triple-A opener was attended by a sparse crowd of only 4,730.[100]

 
Bruce Fields drove in the winning run as the Sounds defeated the 1986 Southern League All-Star team.

The next day, April 12, Nashville competed in an exhibition game against their parent team. Manager Sparky Anderson's Detroit club included Kirk Gibson, Alan Trammell, Lou Whitaker, Rusty Kuntz, and Larry Herndon of the 1984 World Series champion Tigers.[102][103] The Sounds opened the game with back-to-back base hits and went ahead 2–0 on Mike Laga's RBI double.[103] The game was tied 3–3 after five innings, but the Tigers outlasted the Sounds, scoring six runs in the tenth to win, 9–3, before a crowd of 16,182.[102] Seven games into the season, manager Lee Walls was hospitalized with internal bleeding in his stomach.[104] Outfielder Leon Roberts became the acting manager for seven games until Gordon Mackenzie was brought on to lead the club for the rest of the year.[105] On July 17, Bryan Kelly pitched the club's second no-hitter against the Oklahoma City 89ers, as the Sounds won, 6–0.[106] Nashville ended the season in second place in the Eastern Division, two-and-a-half games out of first, with a 71–70 record that excluded them from the playoffs for which only division winners qualified.[107]

The 1986 team was managed by former player Leon Roberts. The Sounds finished third in their division with a 68–74 regular season record,[108] their first losing season since the inaugural 1978 campaign. Also that year, the Sounds were enlisted to serve as the competition in the Southern League All-Star Game, held at Huntsville's Joe Davis Stadium on July 23. Nashville defeated the league's All-Star team, 4–2.[109] The winning run came in the fourth inning when outfielder Bruce Fields singled home catcher Matt Nokes.[109] Starter Brian Kelly earned the win.[109] The Sounds ended their affiliation with Detroit after two seasons of poor attendance and a lackluster 1986 campaign.[110] Over two years with the Tigers, they had a 139–144 record.[59] Their all-time record stood at 703–588 after nine years of play.[59]

Cincinnati Reds (1987–1992)Edit

The Sounds rejoined the Cincinnati Reds farm system as their Triple-A affiliate in 1987 in a bid to increase attendance. Schmittou indicated that market surveys consistently showed the Reds to be the most popular team in the area.[111] As a result of this affiliation and the prior affiliation with Cincinnati, two players, Eddie Milner and Skeeter Barnes, competed in the Reds organization at two different levels with Nashville.[112][113] 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 and a last-place finish under skipper Jack Lind.[114] One player lost due to injuries was third baseman Chris Sabo. He was promoted to Cincinnati in 1988 and was named the National League Rookie of the Year, a first for any former Sounds player.[115]

 
Jack Armstrong pitched a no-hitter against the Indianapolis Indians on August 7, 1988, one night after the Indians no-hit the Sounds.

The 1988 Sounds were in last place and had a 38–39 record until making numerous management changes midseason, going through five different managers in less than a month's time.[116] Jack Lind was fired on June 27.[117] His position was filled on an interim basis by pitching coach Wayne Garland for one game and by Jim Hoff, Cincinnati's minor league field coordinator, for five games.[118] George Scherger, manager of the 1979 Southern League championship Sounds, was brought in next, but he chose to retire after one game.[119] Garland managed two more games before Hoff returned for seventeen.[120] Finally, former big league skipper Frank Lucchesi was hired on July 25 to manage the Sounds for the last 39 games of the season,[120] leading them to a second-place finish, 16 games out of first, with a final record of 73–69.[121]

Greer Stadium was home to a rare baseball occurrence on August 6 and 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.[122] That game was won by Nashville when Lenny Harris walked to first base, stole second base and third base, and then came home, scoring on a groundout.[122] The next night, Nashville's Jack Armstrong pitched the third no-hit game in franchise history, a 4–0 Sounds victory against the Indians in which he allowed only one base runner (a walk).[123]

Lucchesi continued to manage the Sounds in 1989, leading the team to a third-place finish with a 74–72 record.[124] Pitcher Hugh Kemp started a franchise career-record 73 games from 1987 to 1989.[81] On April 23, 1990, 14,012 fans attended an exhibition game at Greer between Nashville and Cincinnati.[125] Reds pitchers Danny Jackson and Ron Robinson held the Sounds to just five hits, three by Terry McGriff and two by Keith Lockhart.[125] Luis Quiñones scored the winning run in the first when he came home on a misplayed ball hit on the ground by Paul O'Neill.[125] Lou Piniella's Cincinnati squad shutout Nashville, 3–0.[125]

 
Skeeter Barnes, a Sound in 1979 and from 1988 to 1990, is the team career leader in games played (514), at bats (1,848), and hits (517).

Despite being blanked by their major league affiliate, the Sounds experienced their most successful season in the American Association in 1990, when they compiled an 86–61 record under manager Pete Mackanin.[126] Ending the regular season in a tie for first place with the Buffalo Bisons, each with an 85–61 record, the Sounds won the Eastern Division championship in a one-game playoff on September 4 by a score of 4–3.[127] The extra-inning affair was ended by Chris Jones' RBI double in the top of the eighteenth inning.[127] The Sounds advanced to their first American Association championship playoffs, where they lost the best-of-five series to the Omaha Royals, three games to two.[128] In a decisive game five, Omaha got out to a 5–0 lead in the first inning,[129] but a sixth-inning grand slam by second baseman Keith Lockhart tied the game.[130] Both teams scored again, but the Royals came out on top, 8–7.[130] Left-hander Chris Hammond, who led the circuit with 15 wins, 149 strikeouts, and a 2.17 ERA,[131] won the league's Most Valuable Pitcher Award for 1990.[132] Nashville set their all-time attendance record that year when a total of 605,122 fans came out to Greer Stadium.[133] Skeeter Barnes, who had previously played with Nashville in 1979, set the franchise career records for games played (514), at bats (1,848), and hits (517) during his second stint from 1988 to 1990.[81]

Cincinnati returned for a second exhibition with Nashville on April 29, 1991. With light rain falling throughout the evening, the game was called after seven innings when the field become unplayable.[134] Though 13 of the 16 Reds appearing in the game were 1990 World Series champions, including Barry Larkin, Chris Sabo, Paul O'Neill, and Randy Myers, the Sounds limited the visitors to just 5 hits and 2 runs while scoring a pair of runs of their own to make the score 2–2 when the game was ended.[135] By May 1, Nashville 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 campaign and finished the year 16 games behind first-place Buffalo with a 65–78 record.[136]

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.[137] Mackanin was dismissed from his managerial duties on June 28, 1992, and replaced by Dave Miley, who was managing the Reds' Double-A Chattanooga Lookouts.[138] The 1992 Sounds posted a 67–77 record, winding up in fourth place.[139]

Greer Stadium, once one of the best stadiums in Triple-A baseball in terms of player and fan amenities,[140] began to be outshined by newer ballparks being built in the late 1980s.[141] The Reds let their player development contract with the Sounds expire so they could place their Triple-A team in Indianapolis, which was closer to Cincinnati and planning to build a new stadium.[141] Nashville entered the offseason unsure of their next major league affiliate. Their final record after six years with the Reds at Triple-A was 429–433.[59] Through 15 total years of competition, their all-time record stood at 1,132–1,021.[59]

Chicago White Sox (1993–1997)Edit

At the recommendation of the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball and with few options available,[142] the Sounds signed an affiliation agreement with the Chicago White Sox, who wanted to move their Triple-A farm club closer to home than their previous location in Vancouver.[141] The White Sox then presented 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 a new stadium to replace Greer.[143] He considered moving the team to a surrounding county, and explored sites in La Vergne, Cool Springs, and Mount Juliet.[144] 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.[143] In the end, Schmittou elected to keep the Sounds at Greer but make significant improvements to the player dressing room and field.[145] Another upgrade was the addition of Greer's signature guitar-shaped scoreboard, which was installed in 1993.[146]

 
Greer Stadium's 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 earning them an opportunity to play for the American Association championship.[147] Down 3–1 in the best-of-seven series versus the Iowa Cubs, the Sounds won two elimination games to force a game seven.[148] In the final game, Nashville held a 2–1 lead from the third inning to the seventh before the Cubs tied the game necessitating extra innings.[148] An eleventh-inning walk-off home run by Iowa's Tuffy Rhodes ended the game and Nashville's championship run in a four-games-to-three series loss.[128][148] 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.[132]

The Sounds shared Greer Stadium with the Southern League's Nashville Xpress, previously known as the Charlotte Knights, during the 1993 and 1994 seasons.[149] This came about when Charlotte acquired a Triple-A expansion franchise in 1993, leaving the city's Double-A team without a home. Schmittou offered Greer as a temporary home ballpark for the team. To accommodate an additional club at Greer, the Xpress scheduled its home games during the Sounds' road trips.[150] In 1995, the Xpress relocated to Wilmington, North Carolina, and became the Port City Roosters.[151]

An exhibition game against the White Sox was planned for April 3, 1994, but was cancelled due to wet grounds and the possibility of player injury.[152] Nashville was able to host the 1994 Triple-A All-Star Game at Greer on July 13 with 11,601 people in attendance.[153] Rick Renick managed the team of American League affiliated All-Stars which included Sounds Ray Durham, Drew Denson, Scott Ruffcorn, and Steve Schrenk. The team of National League affiliated All-Stars defeated Renick's Americans, 8–5.[153] Durham, who had three hits in three at bats and scored the game's first run,[154] was selected as the MVP from the American Association.[155] Denson participated in the previous day's Home Run Derby, but was defeated in the final round by Scott Coolbaugh of the Louisville Redbirds, six home runs to two.[156]

The Sounds completed the 1994 season with an 83–61 record, placing them in second.[157] The American Association had moved away from a divisional alignment to one wherein the top four teams qualified for the championship playoffs that season. In the first round, Nashville swept the New Orleans Zephyrs in three straight games to advance to the league finals.[128] In the best-of-five championship series, the Indianapolis Indians defeated the Sounds, 3–1.[128] Ruffcorn led the American Association with 15 wins,[158] and was selected as the Most Valuable Pitcher for 1994.[132]

Nashville compiled a 68–76 record, 20 games out of first place, in 1995.[159] Originally, Michael Jordan, who played with the White Sox's Double-A Birmingham Barons in 1994, was slotted 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.[160] The team improved their record in 1996, ending up at 77–67.[161] Despite a decent winning percentage, Nashville failed to secure a spot in the playoffs with their third-place finish. All-Star outfielder Jeff Abbott won the Rookie of the Year Award, and Rick Renick earned his second Manager of the Year Award.[132]

The 1996 season marked the last that Schmittou was the team's president and part 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, so he and businessman Walter Nipper sold their 59 percent stake in the Sounds to Chicago-based businessmen Al Gordon, Mike Murtaugh, and Mike Woleben for an estimated $4 million.[18][162] In 1997, under the guidance of manager Tom Spencer, Nashville put together a 74–68 campaign, but a third-place finish excluded them from the playoffs.[163] 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.[132] Ordóñez had led the league with 172 hits and tied for first with a .329 batting average and 249 total bases.[164] The five-year White Sox affiliation ended after the 1997 season with the Sounds having a 383–335 record over that period.[59] Their final American Association record stood at 951–912 after 13 years in the league, and their all-time 20-year record was 1,515–1,356.[59]

Pacific Coast LeagueEdit

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 (PCL). Nashville joined the PCL, making it the eastern-most team in the league.[165] The franchise also picked up a new major league affiliation, becoming the top farm club of the Pittsburgh Pirates, who sought to escape the chilly climate and lengthy travel associated with their previous affiliate in Calgary.[166] 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.[167] The original red, white, and blue colors were replaced by red, black, white, and silver. The new team logo, replacing the original "Slugger", consisted of a black, red, and white eighth note with a baseball at the top set against a circle of the same colors, plus silver, bearing the team name in white around the sides.[167]

 
John Wasdin pitched a perfect game for the Sounds on April 7, 2003.

Nashville entered the PCL with a 7–2 loss to the Iowa Cubs at Sec Taylor Stadium on April 7, 1998.[168] In the team's first season as a Pirates affiliate, the Sounds finished last of four teams in the American Conference East Division with a 67–76 record.[169] The Sounds were led by manager Trent Jewett, who went 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.[170] The team played an exhibition game against Pittsburgh on June 3, 1999, attended by 5,720 fans.[171] The teams combined for 33 hits, including 9 home runs, in a game dominated by offence.[171] The Pirates, whose roster included Jason Kendall, Emil Brown, and Dale Sveum, plated 13 runs in the fifth inning on the way to 16–15 win.[171] The Sounds experienced their longest winning streak in franchise history when they won 15 consecutive games from June 2 to 20, 1999.[172] Overall, the team improved from the previous year, putting together an 80–60 record,[173] but a second-place finish left them out of the PCL playoffs, where only division winners advance to the postseason.[174]

The Sounds ended the 2000 season with a 63–79 record, resulting in a last-place finish in the divisional standings.[175] Richie Hebner, the Sounds' pitching coach, replaced Trent Jewett as manager when he became the Pirates' third base coach on June 6.[176] Former All-Star Sounds third baseman Marty Brown returned to the club to serve as its manager in 2001, becoming the third former Nashville player to serve as the team's skipper. On June 30, Tike Redman became the first Sounds player to hit for the cycle.[177] Redman hit a franchise career-record 30 triples during his time with the team (2000–2003 and 2009).[81] The 2001 Sounds compiled a 64–77 record, leaving them in third place.[178] Despite finishing the 2002 season with an improved 72–71 record under Brown, it was only good enough for a third-place finish, two-and-a-half games out of first place.[179] Chad Hermansen, who played for the Sounds from 1998 to 2002, holds the franchise career records for runs (303), home runs (92), and runs batted in (286).[81]

Right-hander John Wasdin pitched the first perfect game in Sounds history in his first start of the 2003 season against the Albuquerque Isotopes on April 7.[180] Wasdin threw 100 pitches, striking out 15 batters.[180] The 4–0 Sounds win was only the second nine-inning perfect game in PCL history.[181] That year, Trent Jewett returned to lead the team to an 81–62 record.[182] The Sounds clinched the American Conference Eastern Division title, giving them their first playoff berth in the PCL and first postseason appearance since 1994.[52] 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.[183]

On May 21, 2004, catcher J. R. House became the second Sounds player to hit for the cycle.[184] The team completed the 2004 season with a 63–79 record, finishing last in the division under Jewett.[185] Jason Bay played four games in Nashville early in the year before being promoted to Pittsburgh to make his major league debut. Following the season, he became the second former Sound to win a major league Rookie of the Year Award.[115] Closer Mark Corey saved 46 games during the 2003 and 2004 seasons, setting a franchise career record.[81] Seeking to place their Triple-A club at a newer, more desirable stadium and to escape the high travel costs associated with playing in the PCL, the Pirates ended their affiliation with the Sounds after the 2004 campaign.[186] Over seven years are a Pirates affiliate, Nashville had a 490–504 record.[59] Through 27 years of competition, the Sounds' all-time record stood at 2,005–1,860.[59]

Milwaukee Brewers (2005–2014)Edit

 
Nelson Cruz hit a three-run home run with two outs in the top of the 13th inning to help Nashville win the 2005 PCL championship.

The Sounds became the Triple-A affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers in 2005. One factor in the Brewers' choice to partner with Nashville was the hope that the Sounds would soon get a new stadium to replace the then-27-year-old Greer.[187] Along with a new affiliate, Nashville 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 in white within a red border and the team nickname written in red and black script below.[188]

The 2005 club, managed by Frank Kremblas, led the American Conference Northern Division for most of the year but only clinched on the penultimate day of the season, having lost 16 of 19 games in late August and September.[189] Their final season record stood at 75–69.[190] Nashville defeated the Oklahoma RedHawks with a 7–3 win in game five of the conference series to advance to the league championship series.[191] They went on to sweep the Tacoma Rainiers in three straight games to win the 2005 Pacific Coast League championship.[183] Outfielder Nelson Cruz hit a three-run home run with two outs in the top of the 13th inning and reliever Brett Evert closed out the game to give the Sounds their first league crown since moving to Triple-A in 1985 and their first since the 1982 Southern League pennant.[192]

On May 5–6, 2006, the Sounds participated in a 24-inning game against the New Orleans Zephyrs. Lasting a total of eight hours and seven minutes, the first 18 innings were played the first night and the other 6 the next evening.[193][194] The game matched the longest game, in terms of innings played, in PCL history.[194] Several team and league records were broken by both clubs.[194] On July 15, 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.[195] The Sounds finished the season with a 76–68 record under Kremblas, tied with the Iowa Cubs for first place.[196] 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).[197][198] In the conference championship series, Nashville lost to the Round Rock Express, three games to two, after being shutout in game five, 8–0.[183][199]

 
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 team included Brewers third base prospect Ryan Braun, who made his major league debut on May 25 and was named National League Rookie of the Year following the season, becoming the third former Sound to win this award.[115] On June 25, Manny Parra pitched the club's second perfect game, only the third nine-inning perfect game in PCL history, against Round Rock.[200] Parra threw 107 pitches, striking out 11 batters.[200] Led by PCL Manager of the Year Frank Kremblas,[201] the team won the American Northern Division title for the third straight year and posted a league-best 89–55 record.[202] Ultimately, they were defeated by New Orleans, three games to one, in the conference series.[203] Nashville-native knuckleball pitcher and 13-game winner R.A. Dickey won the PCL Pitcher of the Year Award.[201][204]

Massive flooding in the Midwest resulted in the Sounds and the Iowa Cubs playing a game with an official attendance of zero on June 14, 2008.[205] 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.[206] 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.[205][206] PCL Commissioner Branch Rickey III believed that this was the first time such actions were taken out of necessity.[205] Kremblas' Sounds finished the year in fourth place with a 59–81 record.[207]

The Sounds had planned to leave Greer Stadium in the mid-2000s for a new ballpark to be called First Tennessee Field,[208] but the project was abandoned after the city, developers, and team could not come to terms on a plan to finance its construction.[209][210] On October 30, 2008, following this failure to secure a new ballpark, Al Gordon's Amerisports Companies LLC agreed to sell the Sounds to MFP Baseball, a New York-based group of investors consisting of Masahiro Honzawa, Steve Posner, and Frank Ward for an estimated $20 million.[211] 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.[212] MFP made significant renovations to Greer while it continued to explore options for building a new downtown ballpark.[212]

Don Money managed the 2009 Sounds to achieve a 75–69 record, an improvement over the previous season.[213] The club finished two games behind their cross-state rival Memphis. Improving further in 2010, Nashville's 77–67 record under Money was only good enough to place last.[214] Caleb Gindl became the third player in team history to hit for the cycle when he accomplished the feat on July 10, 2011.[215] With Money at the helm, his team placed third with a 71–73 record.[216] Led by Mike Guerrero, the 2012 Sounds finished the season in second place at 67–77, 16 games out of first.[217] Nashville set a franchise-worst win–loss record in 2013 with a 57–87 season that eclipsed the previous record from 2008.[218] Despite the team's performance, Johnny Hellweg won the PCL Pitcher of the Year Award with a league-best .706 (12–5) winning percentage,[219][220] and Guerrero was selected for the Mike Coolbaugh Award in recognition for his contributions to the game of baseball.[221]

Before 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.[222] On August 27, 2014, the Sounds hosted the final game at Greer, 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.[223] The attendance was a standing-room-only crowd of 11,067, the first sellout since 2010, and the largest crowd since 2007.[224] 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.[225] 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 after posting a league-leading 1.46 ERA.[226] 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.[227] They had a 723–713 record in their ten years as a Brewers affiliate.[59] Overall, the Sounds' 37-year record stood at 2,728–2,573.[59]

Oakland Athletics (2015–2018)Edit

 
First Horizon Park opened in 2015 at the former site of the historic Sulphur Dell ballpark.

Nashville affiliated with the Oakland Athletics in 2015 due in part to the organization's commitment to fielding competitive teams at the Triple-A level, an area in which co-owner Frank Ward felt Milwaukee lacked.[228] The Sounds also adopted a new color scheme, set of logos, and uniforms before the season.[229] 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", "Picks", "DrumSticks", and "Roosters".[230] Nashville chose to stick with the Sounds moniker, but initially elected to embrace a new color scheme that included Broadway Burnt Orange, Sunburst Tan, Neon Orange, and Cash Black.[229] 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 after receiving mixed feedback from team fans.[231] The new logos incorporated elements that reflected Nashville's "Music City" nickname, such as guitars, picks, and sound holes, as well as neon signs such as those in the city's Broadway entertainment district.[231]

The start of the 2015 season marked the first time that the Sounds played at the new downtown First Horizon Park, then known as First Tennessee Park, which is located at the former site of the historic Sulphur Dell ballpark.[232] The Sounds defeated the Colorado Springs Sky Sox, 3–2 in 10 innings, in the inaugural home opener in front of 10,459 people in attendance.[233] 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.[233] Under manager Steve Scarsone, Nashville ended their first season as an A's affiliate in third place with a 66–78 record.[234] Barry Zito, who won the American League Cy Young Award in 2002, made his return to professional baseball with the Sounds for his final season in 2015 after sitting out the previous year. 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 team on his birthday.[235]

 
Closer Simón Castro celebrates with his teammates after pitching a combined no-hitter on June 7, 2017.

In 2016, 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.[236] In a dramatic back-and-forth game five of the conference series at First Tennessee Park, the Sounds were eliminated by the Oklahoma City Dodgers, three games to two.[237] Scarsone won the PCL Manager of the Year Award.[201]

Pitchers Chris Smith, Sean Doolittle, Tucker Healy, and Simón Castro combined to pitch the franchise's seventh no-hitter on June 7, 2017, against the Omaha Storm Chasers, a 4–0 Nashville win.[238] All-Star left fielder 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.[155] Joey Wendle hit a franchise career-record 102 doubles from 2015 to 2017.[81] The Sounds finished the 2017 season in second place with a 68–71 record under manager Ryan Christenson.[239]

From July 29 to August 14, 2018, Nashville matched their 1999 franchise-record 15-game winning streak during which they outscored opponents, 89–48.[240] They ended the season in second place with a 72–68 record under manager Fran Riordan.[241] The Sounds declined to renew their contract with the Athletics, choosing instead to seek a new major league affiliate.[242] Through four seasons of competition as the top farm club of the A's, the Sounds had a 289–276 record, their best record among all affiliations.[59] Through 41 seasons of play in Nashville, their all-time record stood at 3,017–2,849.[59]

Texas Rangers (2019–present)Edit

 
Tim Dillard, a Sound from 2007 to 2014 and in 2019, is the career leader in wins (48), games pitched (242), innings pitched (710), and strikeouts (437).

Nashville became the Triple-A affiliate of the Texas Rangers in 2019 in a player development contract that runs through 2022.[243] The Sounds sought out the Rangers after identifying them as one of the most popular MLB teams among local baseball fans and for their geographical proximity.[244] Also for 2019, just four years after their previous rebranding, the team debuted new colors, logos, and uniforms which pull together elements from their original visual identity, the Nashville Vols who preceded them, and the musical imagery present through their franchise history.[245][246] The new colors, navy blue, red, and white, are modernized versions of the team's first colors.[247] The primary logo is a pair of concentric red rings with the team name in navy between the two divided horizontally at its center by twin red and blue stripes; a navy "N" resembling the F-hole of a guitar or violin is in the inner ring, which is styled like a baseball.[245] The Sounds also began participation in Copa de la Diversión ("Fun Cup"), an initiative by Minor League Baseball to connect teams with their local Hispanic communities, in which they adopt a culturally-relevant on-field persona for certain games.[248] For Copa games, the Sounds play as the Vihuelas de Nashville. The vihuela, a high-pitched Mexican guitar popular with Mariachi groups, was chosen so as to reflect the city's musical ties.[249]

The Sounds hosted the Rangers at First Tennessee Park for an exhibition game on March 24, 2019. Managed by former Sound Chris Woodward, the Texas squad included players Delino DeShields Jr., Nomar Mazara, Hunter Pence, Ronald Guzmán, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Logan Forsythe, Shawn Kelley, and José Leclerc. In a close game, the Sounds defeated the Rangers, 4–3.[250] Nashville first baseman Preston Beck scored the winning run in the bottom of the sixth inning with a two-run homer.[250] The game was attended by a ballpark-record 11,824 fans.[250] Nashville ended the season in third place with a 66–72 record under manager and former Sounds third baseman Jason Wood.[251] Veteran sidearm pitcher Tim Dillard, previously with the Sounds from 2007 to 2014, returned to the club in 2019. In his second stretch, he set the franchise career records for games pitched (242) and strikeouts (437) while adding to his existing marks for wins (48) and innings pitched (710).[81][252] The 2020 Sounds will be managed by Darwin Barney.[253]

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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 linksEdit