1901 – 1963
|Minor league affiliations|
|Major league affiliations|
|Minor league titles|
|Dixie Series titles (4)|
|League titles (9)|
|First half titles (2)|
|Second half titles (1)||1944|
|Ballpark||Sulphur Dell (1901–1961, 1963)|
The Nashville Vols were a Minor League Baseball team that played in Nashville, Tennessee, from 1901 to 1963. Known only as the Nashville Baseball Club during their first seven seasons, they were officially named the Nashville Volunteers (often shortened to Vols) in 1908 for the state's nickname, The Volunteer State. The Vols played their home games at Sulphur Dell, which was known as Athletic Park until 1908.
The Volunteers played as charter members of the Southern Association (SA) from 1901 to 1961. They were classified as Class B (1901), Class A (1902–1935), Class A1 (1936–1945), and Double-A (1946–1961). During their 61 seasons in the circuit, the Vols won eight SA pennants, nine SA playoff championships, and four Dixie Series championships. The 1940 Vols were recognized as one of the 100 greatest minor league teams of all time. After sitting out the 1962 season, the club returned for a final campaign as a part of the Double-A South Atlantic League in 1963.
Nashville served as a farm club for eight Major League Baseball franchises across 29 seasons and were unaffiliated in the other 33 seasons. A total of 26 managers led the club and its over 1,200 players. Through 62 seasons, the Vols played 9,015 regular season games and compiled a win–loss record of 4,569–4,446. They had a postseason record of 108–74. Combining all 9,197 regular season and postseason games, the Vols had an all-time record of 4,677–4,520.
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 Sulphur Spring Park, later renamed Athletic Park and Sulphur Dell.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. The Nashville Tigers competed for the city in the same league from 1893 to 1894. In 1895, the Nashville Seraphs won the city's first professional championship in the Southern League. The Nashville Centennials played in the Central League in 1897 but relocated to Henderson, Kentucky, during the season before the league's collapse.
After the city's three-year absence from professional baseball, the Nashville Baseball Club was formed in 1901 as a charter member of the Class B Southern Association.The team did not receive their official moniker, the Nashville Volunteers, until 1908. The Nashville club played their home games at Athletic Park (Sulphur Dell).
Before the start of the inaugural season, Nashville participated in a three-game exhibition series against the Vanderbilt Commodores baseball team. Nashville won all three games. people witnessed the 9–7 Nashville loss. By July 4, they were in second place (31–21), one game behind the Little Rock Travelers. By mid-August, Nashville had moved into first, leading the Memphis Egyptians by two games. Teams throughout the circuit expressed dissatisfaction with the league's umpires. After a number of games were protested and teams' records adjusted, the Nashville club was declared the Southern Association's first champions. The team repeated their success in 1902 by once again being declared league champions. The Nashville Club's final record was 82–42, six-and-a-half games ahead of Little Rock.The team began the regular season in Chattanooga, sweeping the Chattanooga Lookouts in three games, before returning home to Athletic Park for the home opener. The game's lineup, led by player-manager Ike Fisher, consisted of second baseman Ed Abbaticchio, right fielder Doc Wiseman, first baseman Ike Fisher, catcher James Ballantyne, center fielder Lang, left fielder Tom Parrott, third baseman George Reitz, shortstop Snapper Kennedy, and pitcher Ted Corbett. Over 2,000
From 1903 to 1907, the Nashville club was unable to muster anything better than a fifth-place finish. 1904 was their only winning season and by 1907 the team was in last place.Still lacking an official team name, the club was referred to as the Finnites when Mickey Finn managed the team from 1905 to 1906, the Dobbers when John Dobbs managed the team in 1907, and the Senators, probably due to the nearby Tennessee State Capitol building which overlooked Athletic Park.
In 1908, Nashville Tennessean sports writer Grantland Rice held a contest to name the team. The public was invited to mail in votes for one of three team names: the Limerocks (from the abundance of limestone in and around Nashville), the Rocks, and the Volunteers (from the state's nickname, The Volunteer State).The winner and new official team name was the Volunteers, though this was often shortened to Vols. Rice also gave Nashville's Athletic Park a new name: Sulphur Dell, a reference to the location's prior name of Sulphur Springs Bottom.
The newly named Volunteers also became a farm team of the American League's Cleveland Naps in 1908. spectators witnessed Vols pitcher Carl Sitton hurl a three-hit, 1–0 shutout, giving Nashville their third Southern Association pennant by .002 percentage points. Rice called it "the greatest game ever played in Dixie." One account recalls "By one run, by one point, Nashville has won the Southern League pennant, nosing New Orleans out literally by an eyelash. Saturday's game, which was the deciding one, between Nashville and New Orleans was the greatest exhibition of the national game ever seen in the south and the finish in the league race probably sets a record in baseball history."Nashville's John Duggan pitched a no-hitter on September 10, against Little Rock; Nashville won, 1–0. The club, under manager Bill Bernhard, entered the final day of that season with an opportunity to win the league pennant. The championship was to be decided by the last game of the season between the Vols and the New Orleans Pelicans at Sulphur Dell. Both teams had the same number of losses (56), but the Pelicans were in first place with 76 wins to the Vols' second-place 74. A crowd of 11,000
Before the start of the 1909 season, the National League's Chicago Cubs and American League's Boston Red Sox held their spring training in Nashville. The Volunteers held an exhibition game against the Cubs in which the visiting Cubs defeated the home team, 3–0.Nashville also participated in games against the Red Sox. They finished the regular 1909 season in second place behind the pennant-winning Atlanta Crackers. From 1910 through 1915, the Volunteers found themselves usually around the middle of the standings at the end of each season and only had winning records in 1911 and 1914. The 1913 Vols suffered a preseason defeat against the American League's Philadelphia Athletics, 11–8.
On July 11, 1916, at Sulphur Dell, Vols pitcher Tom Rogers delivered a perfect game against the Chattanooga Lookouts. He retired all 27 batters in the 2–0 victory—the first perfect game in the Southern Association and the only perfect game in the Volunteers' history. The game lasted a mere 1 hour and 25 minutes. Rogers led the league that season with 24 victories and 33 complete games. Under the leadership of manager Roy Ellam, the Vols went on to win their fourth league pennant with a nine-game lead over second-place New Orleans.
The Volunteers finished the 1910s with a winning (77–73) fifth-place record in 1917, and had sub-.500 seasons in 1918 and 1919 that placed them at or near the bottom of the standings. stolen bases, was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1968. Things turned around as the team's record improved from 1924 to 1929—excluding 1928 when they finished in last place, 40 games out of first. They ended the decade only three games behind the pennant-winning Birmingham Barons in 1929.In 1920, Nashville served as a farm team for the American League's Chicago White Sox. The 1920s started out poorly for the Vols. The team didn't have a winning record for four seasons from 1920 to 1923. The National League's Pittsburgh Pirates purchased the contract of Vols outfielder Kiki Cuyler in 1923. Cuyler, who led the league with 68
The Volunteers played their first night game at Sulphur Dell on May 18, 1931, in front of an estimated 7,000 fans. However, this was not the first night game to be played at Nashville's ballpark. The original Southern League's Nashville Tigers competed in a night game thirty-seven years earlier on July 6, 1894. The Vols accrued over 100 losses in 1931, finishing in last place, 51–102.
In preparation for the 1932 season, the Vols defeated the Chicago White Sox, 8–4, in an exhibition game held on April 5. When the regular season began, 14,502 fans were in attendance. The outfield had to be lined off with rope to designate additional seating in order to accommodate them at the 8,000-seat Sulphur Dell. The Volunteers finished in fourth place (75–78) that season and third place (77–69) in 1933. Despite this record, they played in the newly created Southern Association championship playoff, in which they lost to the New Orleans Pelicans, 3–1.
The Vols began a consistent period of affiliation with major league clubs in 1934. For that season and the next, they were a farm team for the New York Giants. They finished both campaigns with over-.500 records and played in the championship playoffs, but did not win titles.The Vols saw similar results in 1936 and 1937 as affiliates of the Cincinnati Reds: two winning seasons, a trip to the playoffs in 1936, but no championship.
From 1938 to 1940, the Vols were affiliated with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Under manager Chuck Dressen, the 1938 club finished in second place, five-and-a-half games behind the first-place Atlanta Crackers.Making to the Southern Association playoff finals, Nashville was defeated by the Crackers, 4–1–1. Manager Larry Gilbert, who would become the Vol's longest tenured and winningest manager in team history, came on to manage starting in 1939. The team finished in third place but went on to win the playoff championship against Atlanta. They lost in the Dixie Series, 4–3, to the Fort Worth Cats of the Texas League.
In a 2001 ranking, the 1940 Vols were ranked as the 47th greatest minor league team of all time.That team won the pennant with a franchise-high 101–47 (.682) record, having stayed in first place since day one of the season. After defeating Atlanta in the playoffs, Nashville won its first Dixie Series championship against the Houston Buffaloes, 4–1. Catcher Greek George was selected as the Southern Association Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award, an honor he shared with Atlanta's Emil Mailho. The Nashville club experience similar success in 1941 and 1942 as unaffiliated teams. Though finishing in second place, the Vols won the playoff championship and Dixie Series in both campaigns.
As Chicago Cubs affiliates, they won the pennant in 1943, and again won back-to-back playoffs in 1943 and 1944.In 1943, Ed Sauer was voted as the league MVP. The next two seasons were in stark contrast to the Vols' recent performances. The campaigns of 1945 and 1946 saw the team finish in seventh and sixth places, respectively. The next five seasons of affiliation with the Cubs resulted in winning seasons. The 1947 Vols lost in the playoff finals, as did the 1948 team that also won the pennant. Larry Gilbert did not return to the team in 1949. He left having guided the team to three Southern Association pennants, six playoff championships, and three-straight Dixie Series crowns. Rollie Hemsley managed the 1949 squad to a first-place pennant-winning season, an association championship, and a Dixie Series title. Chuck Workman was the league MVP in 1948, and teammate Carl Sawatski followed suit in 1949. Nashville closed out its time with the Cubs in 1950 and 1951, winning the playoffs in 1950 but losing the Dixie series and finishing in fifth place in 1951.
The Vols returned to the New York Giants organization from 1952 to 1954. They won the playoff championship in 1953, but lost in the Dixie Series, and finished the other two seasons with sub-.500 records in sixth place.During the 1954 season, outfielder Bob Lennon hit 64 home runs, a league record never broken. Forty of the home runs were hit at Sulphur Dell. Lennon led the Southern Association in a total of five categories that year (batting average, hits, runs, RBI, and home runs) and was awarded the Southern Association MVP Award.
Nashville's six years as a Cincinnati Redlegs/Reds affiliate from 1955 to 1960 featured little of the success they had experienced during the previous 20 years. Aside from winning the 1957 championship semi-finals versus the Memphis Chicks, 4–2, but losing to Atlanta in the finals, the Vols finished no higher than third place with records hovering around .500.
The refusal of the Southern Association to integrate its teams resulted in poor attendance in Nashville and across the league from 1946, when organized baseball was integrated. shares to 4,876 investors to keep the team in operation.Plagued by poor attendance and financial woes, in January 1959 the franchise was sold to a group of local businessmen, which included county musician Eddy Arnold and politician and Tennessee Secretary of State Joe C. Carr. Known as Vols, Inc., the group was headed by president Herschel Lynn Greer. The corporation sold $5
In 1961, with the Minnesota Twins, the Vols went 69–83 (.454) with a sixth-place finish.The Southern Association ceased operations after the 1961 season due to low fan interest, financial losses, and the difficulty of fielding enough teams.
After Sulphur Dell sat empty in 1962 when no professional baseball was played in the city, Nashville fielded a team in the Double-A South Atlantic League in 1963. As an affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels, the Vols finished in last place out of eight teams with a 53–86 (.381) record.The Nashville Vols played their final games, in a doubleheader, on September 8, 1963, against the Lynchburg White Sox. Nashville won both games, 6–3 and 2–1. Poor attendance and financial problems, including a nearly $22,000 debt incurred over the season, forced team owners to surrender the franchise to the league just one week after the season's end.
Music City was without a professional baseball team for 14 years until 1978 when Vanderbilt University baseball coach Larry Schmittou led a group of local investors to found the Nashville Sounds, an expansion franchise of the Double-A Southern League, which grew out of the South Atlantic League.
Over 9,015 regular season games in their 62-year history, the Vols compiled a win–loss record of 4,569–4,446 (.507). They qualified for postseason playoffs on 16 occasions and had a postseason record of 108–74 (.593). Nashville won eight Southern Association (SA) pennants, nine SA playoff championships, and four Dixie Series titles. Combining all 9,197 regular season and postseason games, the Vols had an all-time record of 4,677–4,520 (.509). The team's best season record occurred in 1940 when they finished 101–47 (.682). Their lowest season record was 45–92 (.328) in 1906. Of the eight major league affiliations in Nashville's history, the team recorded its best record from 1938 to 1940 as a Brooklyn Dodgers affiliate. The team had a regular season record of 270–181 (.599) during that time. They reached the postseason in all three seasons, winning two playoff championships and one Dixie Series title. Their postseason record was 25–16 (.610). Conversely, the team's lowest record was as a Los Angeles Angels affiliate in 1963. The Vols compiled a 53–86 (.381) record and failed to reach the postseason in their lone year with the Angles and their final year of competition. Nashville's top five seasons by winning percentage are presented below.
|Season||Regular Season||Postseason||MLB affiliate|
|Record||Win %||Place||GB||Record||Win %||Result|
|1940||101–47||.682||1st||—||11–3||.786||Won SA pennant |
Won semifinals vs. Chattanooga Lookouts, 3–0
Won SA championship vs. Atlanta Crackers, 4–2
Won Dixie Series vs. Houston Buffaloes, 4–1
|1902||80–40||.667||1st||—||—||—||Won SA pennant||Unaffiliated|
|1901||78–45||.634||1st||—||—||—||Won SA pennant||Unaffiliated|
|1949||95–57||.625||1st||—||12–7||.632||Won SA pennant |
Won semifinals vs. New Orleans Pelicans, 4–2
Won SA championship vs. Mobile Bears, 4–2
Won Dixie Series vs. Tulsa Oilers, 4–3
|1948||95–58||.621||1st||—||6–7||.462||Won SA pennant |
Won semifinals vs. Mobile Bears, 4–3
Lost SA championship vs. Birmingham Barons, 4–2
After 62 seasons, over 1,200 players had competed in at least one game for the Vols. From these, Nashville Banner sportswriters Fred Russell and George Leonard created all-time rosters of the top Nashville players from 1901 to 1919 and from 1920 to 1963.
Eight Vols were selected for the Southern Association Most Valuable Player Award, more than any other team in the league, in recognition for their performance while with the Vols. These players were Greek George (1940), Ed Sauer (1943), Chuck Workman (1948), Carl Sawatski (1949), Bob Schultz (1950), Jack Harshman (1953), Bob Lennon (1954), and Stan Palys (1957).
Two members of the Vols have been elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Outfielder Kiki Cuyler, who was selected by the Veterans Committee in 1968, games, Cuyler led the team with a .340 batting average, 195 hits, 39 doubles, and 17 triples. Waite Hoyt, who pitched for the team in 1918, was selected by the Veterans Committee in 1969.played for the Vols in 1923. In 149
Over the course of 62 seasons, the Nashville Vols were led by 26 managers. Playing in an era when it was common to have player-managers, 17 men served as managers concurrent with their on-field playing. The team's eight regular season pennants, nine playoff championships, and four Dixie Series titles were won behind seven different managers. Newt Fisher (1901 and 1902), Bill Bernhard (1908), Roy Ellam (1916), and Larry Gilbert (1940, 1943, 1948, and 1949) managed the Vols to win the Southern Association pennant. Gilbert (1939, 1940, 1941, 1942, 1943, and 1944), Rollie Hemsley (1949), Don Osborn (1950), and Hugh Poland (1953) led the team to win SA playoff championships. Gilbert (1940, 1941, and 1942) and Hemsley (1949) managed Nashville to win the Dixie Series, a best-of-seven playoff series against the champions of the Texas League.
|Games||Wins||Losses||Win %||Appearances||Wins||Losses||Win %|
The Southern League is a Minor League Baseball league that operates in the Southern United States. Along with the Eastern League and Texas League, it is one of three circuits playing at the Double-A level, which is two grades below Major League Baseball. Its headquarters are in the Atlanta suburb of Marietta, Georgia.
The Nashville Sounds are a Minor League Baseball team of the Pacific Coast League (PCL) and the Triple-A affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers. They are located in Nashville, Tennessee, and are named for the city's association with the music industry. The team plays their home games at First Horizon Park, which opened in 2015 and is located on the site of the historic Sulphur Dell ballpark. The Sounds previously played at Herschel Greer Stadium from its opening in 1978 until the end of the 2014 season. They are the oldest active professional sports franchise in Nashville.
Sulphur Dell, formerly known as Sulphur Spring Park and Athletic Park, was a baseball park in Nashville, Tennessee, United States. It was located just north of the Tennessee State Capitol building in the block bounded by modern-day Jackson Street, Fourth Avenue North, Harrison Street, and Fifth Avenue North. The ballpark was home to the city's minor league baseball teams from 1885 to 1963. The facility was demolished in 1969.
The Nashville Americans were a minor league baseball team that played in the Class B Southern League from 1885 to 1886. They were located in Nashville, Tennessee, and played their home games at Sulphur Spring Park, later known as Sulphur Dell.
The Nashville Blues were a minor league baseball team that played in the Southern League in 1887. They were located in Nashville, Tennessee, and played their home games at Sulphur Spring Park, later known as Sulphur Dell.
The Nashville Seraphs, often known as the Nashvilles, were a minor league baseball team that played in the Class B Southern League in 1895. They were located in Nashville, Tennessee, and played their home games at Athletic Park, later known as Sulphur Dell. The club won the Southern League pennant in their only season, becoming the city's first minor league baseball team to win a league championship.
Charles Vedder Sitton, also known as Carl, C. V. and Vet Sitton, was a baseball player and coach. He attended Clemson College, where he also played football, and later coached baseball for the Tigers.
The Nashville Vols Minor League Baseball team played 62 seasons in Nashville, Tennessee, from 1901 to 1963; they were inactive in 1962 due to declining attendance and the Southern Association (SA) ceasing operations after 1961. Over 9,015 regular season games, the Vols compiled a win–loss record of 4,569–4,446 (.507). They qualified for postseason playoffs on 16 occasions and had a postseason record of 108–74 (.593). Nashville won eight SA pennants, nine SA playoff championships, and four Dixie Series titles. Combining all 9,197 regular season and postseason games, the Vols had an all-time record of 4,677–4,520 (.509).
The Memphis Blues were a Minor League Baseball team that played in Memphis, Tennessee, from 1968 to 1976. They competed in the Double-A Texas League from 1968 to 1973 as an affiliate of the New York Mets. Memphis transferred to the Triple-A International League in 1974, where they were affiliated with the Montreal Expos from 1974 to 1975 and Houston Astros in 1976. Their home games were played at Blues Stadium
The Dixie Series was an interleague postseason series between the playoff champions of Minor League Baseball's Southern Association (SA) and Texas League (TL). The best-of-seven series was held at the conclusion of each season from 1920 to 1958, with the exception of 1943 to 1945 due to World War II. It was revived for one year in 1967, pitting the Texas League champion against the Southern League (SL) champion.
The Nashville Centennials were a Minor League Baseball team that played in the Class C Central League in 1897. They were located in Nashville, Tennessee, and were named in reference to the celebration of the one-hundredth anniversary of Tennessee's admission to the union in 1796, highlighted by the 1897 Tennessee Centennial and International Exposition. The Centennials played their home games at Athletic Park, later known as Sulphur Dell.
The Southern League was a Class B and Class C minor league baseball league which operated intermittently in the Southern United States from 1885 to 1899. Financial problems plagued the league and its member teams throughout their existence. It was not unusual for teams to depart the league during the season or for the league to cease operations without completing the season. It was this lack of financial support which ultimately caused the league to permanently disband in 1889. In 1901, a new league, called the Southern Association, was created from its remnants.
Ferdinand Emery Kuhn was a shoe merchant known as the "Father of the Knights of Columbus in the South." He was also president of the 1908 Southern Association champion Nashville Vols baseball team.
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 1908 Nashville Vols season was the 15th season of minor league baseball in Nashville, Tennessee, and the Nashville Vols' 8th season in the Southern Association. The Vols finished the previous season in last place, but this year won the league pennant, by defeating he New Orleans Pelicans 1-0 on the last day of the season in a game dubbed by Grantland Rice "The Greatest Game Ever Played In Dixie."
The Memphis Chicks were a Minor League Baseball team that played in the Southern League from 1978 to 1997. They were located in Memphis, Tennessee, and played their home games at Tim McCarver Stadium. They served as a farm club for four Major League Baseball teams: the Montreal Expos (1978–1983), Kansas City Royals (1984–1994), San Diego Padres (1995–1996), and Seattle Mariners (1997). The Chicks were named for the Memphis Chickasaws, who were charter members of the Southern Association that played in Memphis from 1901 to 1960.
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