Samiksha Jaiswal (Editor)

Nashville Sounds

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Team logo  
Division  Southern Division
League  Pacific Coast League
Previous  Double-A (1978–1984)
Founded  1978
Manager  Ryan Christenson

Current  Triple-A (1985–present)
Previous leagues  American Association (1985–1997) Southern League (1978–1984)
Current  Oakland Athletics (2015–present)
Ballpark  First Tennessee Park (2015–)
Conference  American Athletic Conference

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The Nashville Sounds are a Minor League Baseball team of the Pacific Coast League (PCL) and the Triple-A affiliate of the Oakland Athletics. They are located in Nashville, Tennessee, and are named for the city's association with the music industry. The team plays its home games at First Tennessee Park which opened in 2015 and is partially located on the 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.

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Established as an expansion team of the Double-A Southern League in 1978, the Sounds were replaced by a Triple-A American Association team in 1985. The Triple-A Sounds carried on the history of the Double-A team that preceded it. The Sounds later joined the PCL in 1998. The team has served as a farm club for seven major league franchises. A total of 26 managers have led the club and its more than 1,100 players. As of the completion of the 2016 season, the team has played in 5,587 regular season games and compiled a win–loss record of 2,877–2,710 (.515).

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The Sounds have reached the postseason on 14 occasions. They have won ten division titles, two conference titles, and three league championships. Most recently, they won the PCL Championship in 2005 as the Triple-A affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers. Previous league titles won by the team are the Southern League Championship in 1979 as the Double-A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds, and again in 1982 as the Double-A affiliate of the New York Yankees. The team has an overall postseason record of 42–41 (.506).

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

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Double-A (1978–1984)

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 team in the Double-A Southern League. 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.

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. This philosophy also involved promoting entertainment value, or fun, instead of promoting the baseball game. The franchise was later recognized for its promotion efforts when it won the Larry MacPhail Award for outstanding minor league promotions in 1978, 1980, and 1981. 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.

The club played their home games at a newly constructed facility, Herschel Greer Stadium, located south of downtown Nashville at the foot of St. Cloud Hill in Fort Negley Park. Schmittou invited fans to submit suggestions for the team's name. Among the finalists were Stars, Notes, Hits, and Strings.> 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. The team's 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. 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, reflects the city's association with the country music industry. It depicts a mustachioed old-time baseball player, nicknamed "Slugger", swinging at a baseball with a guitar, a staple of country music, in place of a bat. Further illustrating the city's musical ties is the typeface, with letters resembling musical notes and treble clefs, used to display the team name. A minor league ice hockey team also owned by Schmittou from 1981 to 1983, 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 National Hockey League club, the Minnesota North Stars.

Reds era (1978–1979)

As the Double-A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds, the Sounds played their first game on April 15, 1978, against the Memphis Chicks at Memphis' Tim McCarver Stadium, which they lost, 4–2. Meanwhile, construction on Greer Stadium continued in order to be ready for the home opener. 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. 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. The home opener was scheduled to take place the previous evening, but was rained out. 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. 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". The Sounds finished ninth out of ten teams during their inaugural campaign of 1978 under manager Chuck Goggin, but led all of minor league baseball in attendance by drawing 380,000 fans. Additionally, Bruce Berenyi was selected as the league's Most Outstanding Pitcher.

Under manager George Scherger, the Sounds started the 1979 season poorly, before rallying to win 20 of 31 games in late May and June. They entered the last day of the first half of the season in first place, but lost their game to cross-state rivals the Memphis Chicks and finished in second place. The Sounds and Chicks met again on the last day of the second half in a split doubleheader; both games were won by Nashville. The two teams then faced-off in a best-of-three series to determine the Western Division champion. The Sounds won the series two games to one before advancing to the Southern League championship series against the Columbus Astros. Nashville captured their first league title by defeating the Astros three games to one. 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. Geoff Combe won the league's Most Outstanding Pitcher Award. 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.

Originally, the Reds allowed Nashville to use a designated hitter (DH) 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 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 renege on their decision to prohibit the designated hitter, so the Sounds looked for a new affiliate after 1979. Schmittou was then approached by five or six clubs looking to enter the Southern League as a Sounds affiliate.

Yankees era (1980–1984)

Larry Schmittou had originally been encouraged by the New York Yankees organization to establish the Sounds as a Triple-A team, but he refused to go back on a previous promise to partner with the Reds at Double-A. After the split with Cincinnati, the Sounds made their first affiliation switch in 1980, becoming the Double-A affiliate of the Yankees. Managers Stump Merrill (1980–81) and Johnny Oates (1982) 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, the league MVP, led the league in runs, home runs, and total bases. Pitcher Andy McGaffigan was selected as the league's top pitcher. The team also set a league attendance record, when a total of 575,676 fans visited Greer Stadium. This record still stands as of the completion of the 2015 season. In 2001, the 1980 Sounds were ranked as the sixty-ninth greatest minor league baseball team of all-time by baseball historians.

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. 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. 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. Jamie Werly won the Southern League Most Outstanding Pitcher Award. 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.

The 1982 Sounds won the second half of the season and met the Knoxville Blue Jays in the division playoffs. After defeating the Blue Jays, 3–1, the Sounds advanced to the league championship series to play against the Jacksonville Suns. Nashville defeated the Suns, three games to one, clinching the Southern League championship, giving the franchise their second league title. Brian Dayett was selected as the Southern League MVP, and Stefan Wever was the league's Most Outstanding Pitcher. Wever was the fifth Sounds pitcher in five years to win the award.

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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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.

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.

Triple-A (1985–present)

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. 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%.

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. Schmittou had planned to send Nashville's existing Southern League franchise to Evansville to continue as the Triplets at Double-A. However, when the City of Evansville balked at the request for stadium upgrades, the team was instead moved to Huntsville, Alabama, where it became the Huntsville Stars. 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.

Tigers era (1985–1986)

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

The 1986 team was managed by former player Leon Roberts who had temporarily lead the team the previous season. The Sounds finished third in their division with a 68–74 regular season record, 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.

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 midseason. The result was a 64–76 record and a last place finish. One player lost due to injuries was third baseman Chris Sabo. Sabo was promoted to Cincinnati in 1988 and was named the National League Rookie of the Year, a first for any former Sounds player.

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

Greer Stadium was home to a rare baseball occurrence on August 6 and August 7, 1988, when Nashville and Indianapolis exchanged no-hitters on back-to-back nights. First, Indianapolis' Randy Johnson and Pat Pacillo combined for a no-hit loss against the Sounds, a 1–0 Nashville win. That game was won by Nashville when Lenny Harris walked to first base, stole second base, stole third base, and then came home, scoring on a groundout. The next night, Nashville's Jack Armstrong pitched a no-hit game against the Indians, a 4–0 Sounds victory. This was the first time in American Association history that teams played in back-to-back no-hit games, and was the third no-hitter in Sounds franchise history.

After finishing in third-place with a 74–72 record in 1989, 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 under manager Pete Mackanin. Ending the regular season in a tie with the Buffalo Bisons, the Sounds won the Eastern Division championship in a one-game playoff. The extra-inning affair was ended by Chris Jones' two-run homer in the top of the eighteenth inning. The Sounds advanced to their first American Association championship series, where they lost to the Omaha Royals three games to two. Left-hander Chris Hammond won the league's Most Valuable Pitcher Award for 1990. That year, Nashville set their all-time attendance record when a total of 605,122 fans came out to Greer Stadium.

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 first-place Buffalo. The following year was Nashville's last as a Reds affiliate. The team posted a 67–77 record in 1992, winding up in fourth-place.

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 Eastern Division title with an 81–62 record. In the league championship series, the Iowa Cubs defeated the Sounds in extra innings in game seven. 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.

The Sounds shared Greer Stadium with the Southern League's Nashville Xpress, previously known as the Charlotte Knights, during the 1993 and 1994 seasons. This came about when Charlotte acquired a Triple-A expansion franchise in 1993, leaving the city's Double-A team without a home. Sounds owner Larry Schmittou offered Greer as a temporary home ballpark 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." In 1995, the Xpress relocated to Wilmington, North Carolina, and became the Port City Roosters.

In 1994, the Sounds earned an 83–61 record, placing them in second. 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. Nashville hosted the midseason 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. Ruffcorn won the association's Most Valuable Pitcher Award for 1994.

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

The team improved their record in 1996, ending up with 77 wins and 67 losses. Despite a decent winning percentage, Nashville failed to secure a spot in the playoffs. Outfielder Jeff Abbott won the Rookie of the Year Award, and Rick Renick earned his second Manager of the Year Award. 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. The following year, Nashville put together a 74–68 campaign, again failing to win either half of the season, excluding them from the postseason. In addition to being selected for both the midseason and postseason All-Star teams, outfielder Magglio Ordóñez garnered the league's Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year Awards.

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 that were introduced over the course of the 1998 and 1999 seasons. The original red, white, and blue colors were replaced by black and red. The new team logo, replacing the original "Slugger", consisted of a black 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 (.469) record. The Sounds were led by manager Trent Jewett who would go on to win 320 games from 1998 to 2000 and 2003 to 2004, placing him first on the all-time wins list for Sounds managers. Improving from the previous year, the 1999 team put together an 80–60 (.571) record, but their second-place finish left them out of the postseason picture.

Nashville finished the 2000 season with a 63–79 (.444) record, resulting in a last-place finish in the divisional standings. 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 (.454) record, leaving them in third-place. On June 30, Tike Redman became the first Sounds player to hit for the cycle. Redman also holds the Sounds franchise record for the most triples (30) during his career with the team. Despite finishing the 2002 season with a 72–71 (.503) record, it was only good enough for a third-place finish, two-and-a-half games out of first place. 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).

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. The 4–0 Sounds win was only the second nine-inning perfect game in PCL history. That year, Trent Jewett led the Sounds to an 81–62 (.566) record. The team clinched the Eastern Division title, giving them their first postseason berth as a member of the Pacific Coast League and first postseason appearance since 1994. Nashville met Albuquerque in the American Conference championship series, defeating the Isotopes three games to one. The Sounds then lost the best-of-five league championship series in three straight games to the Sacramento River Cats.

On May 21, 2004, catcher J. R. House became the second Sounds player to hit for the cycle. The team completed the 2004 campaign with a 63–79 (.444) record, finishing last in the division. 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.

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. The Sounds also debuted a new oval-shaped logo with a baseball player silhouetted against a yellow background hitting a ball toward the Nashville skyline with the city's name written above and the team name written in script below. The new Brewers affiliate was managed by Frank Kremblas and featured top prospects such as Rickie Weeks, Prince Fielder, Nelson Cruz, and Corey Hart. The Sounds' new affiliation started well as the club won the American Northern Division title on the second-to-last day of the season with a 75–69 (.521) record. The team went on to win the American Conference title against the Oklahoma RedHawks, three games to two, before sweeping the Tacoma Rainiers in three straight games in the finals to win the 2005 Pacific Coast League Championship. This was Nashville's first title since their previous league crown in 1982 and their first championship as a Triple-A team.

On July 15, 2006, Nashville pitchers Carlos Villanueva, Mike Meyers, and Alec Zumwalt combined to pitch the fifth no-hitter in team history, a 2–0 win over the Memphis Redbirds. 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. Additionally, several team and league records were broken by both clubs. The record was originally set on June 8, 1909 in a game between the San Francisco Seals and Oakland Oaks. A few years later, on September 10, 1911, the record was tied by a contest between the Sacramento Solons and Portland Beavers. The Sounds finished the season with a 76–68 (.528) record, tied with the Iowa Cubs for first place in the American Northern Division. 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). In the conference championship series, Nashville lost to the Round Rock Express, three games to two.

The 2007 Sounds included top Brewers prospects Yovani Gallardo and Ryan Braun. Braun, who made his major league debut on May 25, was named National League Rookie of the Year following the season, making him the third former Sounds player to receive this honor. 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. The team, led by PCL Manager of the Year Frank Kremblas, captured the American Northern Division title for the third straight year and finished the season with a league-best 89–55 (.618) record. They were defeated by the New Orleans Zephyrs, three games to one, in the conference championship series. Knuckleball pitcher R.A. Dickey won the PCL Pitcher of the Year Award.

Following massive flooding in the Midwest, the Sounds and the Iowa Cubs played a game with an official attendance of zero on June 14, 2008. 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. 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. The team's 59–81 record (.421) is the second-lowest in the team's history.

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. 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. MFP made significant renovations to Greer Stadium while it continued to explore options for building a new downtown ballpark for the club.

Rebounding from their 2008 campaign, the 2009 Sounds achieved a 75–69 (.521) record under new manager Don Money. 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 (.535) record, it was only good enough to place fourth (last) in the division.

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. Center fielder Logan Schafer garnered national media attention when he initiated a triple play on August 20, 2011, against the Omaha Storm Chasers. 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. Nashville ended the year with a 71–73 (.493) record, placing third in the American Northern Division.

Managed by Mike Guerrero, the Sounds finished the 2012 season in second place with a losing 67–77 (.465) record, sixteen games behind first-place Omaha. Nashville set a franchise record low win–loss record in 2013. The 57–87 season (.396) eclipsed the previous franchise record (59–81) set in 2008. Despite the team's performance, pitcher Johnny Hellweg won the PCL Pitcher of the Year Award, and Guerrero was selected for the Mike Coolbaugh Award in recognition for his contributions to the game.

Prior to the 2014 season, 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. 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. The announced attendance at the game was a standing-room-only crowd of 11,067, the first sellout since 2010, and the largest crowd since 2007. The team, led by veteran minor league manager Rick Sweet, finished the season with a 76–67 (.535) record, in second place, two-and-a-half games behind Memphis. 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.

Athletics era (2015–present)

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. The Sounds also adopted a new color scheme, set of logos, and uniforms before the season. The team hired sports design firm Brandiose to create their new visual identity. At one point, the firm was asked to explore new team names which included "Platinums", "Hits", "FireFlies", "Picks", "DrumSticks", and "Roosters." Nashville chose to stick with the Sounds moniker, but elected to embrace a new color scheme that originally included Broadway Burnt Orange, Sunburst Tan, Neon Orange, and Cash Black. However, the team returned to the previous red and black color scheme with the addition of platinum silver as an accent color before the start of the season following mixed feedback from team fans. The new logos incorporated elements that reflect Nashville's "Music City" nickname, such as guitars, guitar picks, and a guitar's sound hole, as well as neon signs such as those in the city's Broadway entertainment district.

The start of the 2015 season marked the first time that the Sounds played at the new downtown First Tennessee Park. 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. Prior to the game, Mayor Karl Dean threw out the ceremonial first pitch. "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. Under manager Steve Scarsone, Nashville finished their first season as an A's affiliate in third place with a 66–78 record. Barry Zito, who won the American League Cy Young Award in 2002, made his return to professional baseball with the Sounds in 2015 after sitting out the 2014 season. Zito was lauded by his Nashville teammates for embracing the Triple-A lifestyle and for his commitment to the team: charting pitches between starts, coaching first base, and even buying dinner for the entire team on his birthday.

In 2016, PCL Manager of the Year Steve Scarsone led the Sounds to a league-best 83–59 (.585) record and the American Southern Division title, sending the team to the postseason for the first time since 2007. The Sounds lost the American Conference series versus the Oklahoma City Dodgers, three games to two. At First Tennessee Park, the Sounds added the Country Legends Race, similar to major league mascot races, such as the Sausage Race and Presidents Race, to its between-innings entertainment in 2016. In the middle of the fifth inning, people in oversized foam caricature costumes depicting country musicians Johnny Cash, George Jones, and Reba McEntire race around the warning track from center field, through the visiting bullpen, and to the home plate side of the first base dugout.

Rivals

Nashville's chief rivals have been those based in Memphis, Tennessee. Located approximately 200 miles (320 km) 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 Sounds entered the rivalry when they joined the Southern League in 1978. Nashville played in the Western Division against the Memphis Chicks. In 1979, the Chicks won the first half of the division and the Sounds won the second half. In the best-of-three division finals, the Sounds defeated the Chicks in two out of three games before going on to win the Southern League championship. 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. 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.

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

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

As of the completion of the 2016 series, Memphis leads the all-time series against Nashville with a record of 905–880 (.507). This record encompasses all 92 years of competition in the original Southern League, Southern Association, Southern League, and Pacific Coast League. Nashville, however, leads the 19-year PCL series with a record of 162–140 (.536).

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, but seated 10,300 spectators during its final 2014 season. Its best known feature is the giant 115.6 foot (35.2 m) guitar-shaped scoreboard behind the left field wall.

Following the construction of newer, relatively luxurious minor league ballparks, Greer Stadium had fallen below the standards set for Triple-A stadiums by professional baseball in 1990. At the time, owner Larry Schmittou tried to convince the city to approve a new ballpark, but was unsuccessful. Throughout the 2000s, the team continued in its attempts to gather approval and financing for a new ballpark to replace Greer. 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. In the meantime, numerous upgrades and repairs, including over $3.5 million worth of improvements from 2008 to 2009, were made to Greer in order to preserve its functionality until a new stadium could be built. A deal for such a new ballpark was achieved in late 2013. The Sounds played their final game at Greer on August 27, 2014.

First Tennessee Park (2015–present)

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

Like Greer Stadium before it, one of First Tennessee Park's most recognizable features is a 142 by 55 foot (43 by 17 m) guitar-shaped scoreboard beyond the right-center field wall. 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.

Uniforms

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, and platinum silver. Additionally, new uniforms and logos incorporate elements that reflect Nashville's "Music City" moniker. 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 a silver border and black drop shadow. White pants with a single line of red piping going up the sides are worn with black belts and black socks. The home cap is solid black with the primary "N" guitar pick logo. Batting helmets are glossy black with the same "N" pick logo.

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

A third set of alternate uniforms honoring the 1978 Sounds are worn for Thursday home games in conjunction with Throwback Thursday promotions. The jerseys, similar to those worn by the 1978 team, are white pullover v-necks with bands of red, white, and blue around the neck, with larger bands at the sleeve openings. The word "Sounds" is written across the chest in red-on-blue music note-like script, with the player's number below the team name on the player's left chest in blue block characters surrounded by red. The right sleeve bears a "Slugger" patch. White pants are worn with blue belts and blue stirrups. The cap is blue with a red brim, displaying an "N" styled like a music note in white, bordered by red. The team wears military green jerseys paired with white pants and home caps for all Sunday home games as a part of Military Sundays. These jerseys have the same "Sounds" wordmark and front and back numbers as appear on home uniforms but also have an American flag on the left sleeve.

Past

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

From 1978 to 1986, the team wore pullover v-neck jerseys made of white fabric, for home games, gray, for road games, and red or blue, for use as alternates. Bands of red, white, and blue were worn around the neck, with larger bands at the sleeve openings (the blue jerseys had one white band and two red bands). The word "Sounds" was written across the chest in red-on-blue music note-like script. Numbers, but not names, were sewn on the back of jerseys. 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. 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.

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. 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. 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." The two caps were worn interchangeably through 1998.

The team switched to a red and black color scheme over the course of the 1998 and 1999 seasons. In the latter season, uniforms consisted of pinstriped pants and jerseys, with black sleeves bearing a music note logo on the left sleeve. 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. 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. 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.

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.

Radio and television

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, after which he left to become the radio voice of the Memphis Redbirds. Chuck Valenches, a former assistant broadcaster, was promoted to the role of lead broadcaster from 2000 to 2009. Stu Paul was the Sounds' play-by-play broadcaster for the 2010 and 2011 seasons. Since 2012, Jeff Hem has been the team's lead broadcaster. All Sounds home and road games are broadcast on WPRT 102.5 FM or its sister station, WQZQ 94.9 FM. Live audio broadcasts are also available online through the team's website.

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. From 2005 to 2008, 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. 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.

Mascots

The Nashville Sounds' mascot is an anthropomorphic rooster named Booster. He is bright red with yellow legs, beak, comb, and palms and yellow and orange 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.

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.

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

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. 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.

Awards

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

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

Sixty-six players have been selected for midseason All-Star teams. Of those players, Joey Vierra (1992 and 1995), Drew Denson (1993–94), and Vinny Rottino (2007–08) are the only players to have been selected twice while playing for Nashville. Three players have been chosen as the MVP for midseason All-Star games: Duane Walker (1979), Ray Durham (1994), and Magglio Ordóñez (1997). Of the 49 players who have been named to postseason All-Star teams, only Duane Walker (1979 in two positions) and Jeff Abbott (1996–97) have been selected twice.

Retired numbers

Nashville has honored two of its players by retiring their uniform numbers. 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. The team displays its retired numbers on the front of the press box at First Tennessee Park.

Hall of Famers

Three members of the Sounds have been elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Hoyt Wilhelm, who served as the team's pitching coach from 1982 to 1984, was elected in 1985. Shortstop Barry Larkin, who was elected in 2012, made two appearances with the Sounds during a rehabilitation assignment in 1989. Outfielder Tim Raines, who made three rehab appearances with the Sounds in 1993, was elected in 2017.

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

Managers

Over the course of 39 seasons, the Nashville Sounds have employed 26 managers. The duties of the team manager include team strategy and leadership on and off the field. Three managers have guided the team to win their league's championship. George Scherger (1979) and Johnny Oates (1982) led the team to win the Southern League Championship. Frank Kremblas (2005) led the team to win the Pacific Coast League Championship. Trent Jewett is the longest-tenured manager in team history, having managed the team for 624 games from 1998 to 2000 and 2003 to 2004.

References

Nashville Sounds Wikipedia