Nashville's Teams at Sulphur Dell
In 1885 the Southern League was formed, and Nashville’s entry into the new league for two seasons was the Americans. The 1885 team was led by Charles Marr with 129 hits and a .327 batting average. The team finished in third place in the inaugural season.
In 1887 the team was renamed the Blues but struggled with financial problems and dropped out of the league in August.
Nashville did not field another professional team until 1893 and 1894 in a new Southern League. Hall of Fame member George Stallings managed the Nashville Tigers in 1894 before becoming a manager in the big leagues. In 1895 the Tigers finished in second place in the Southern League one game behind pennant winning Atlanta.
The name of the club was changed to Nashville Seraphs for the 1895 season. Once again, George Stallings was the manager.
In 1897 a new league was founded, the Central League, and the Nashville entry was known as the Centennials. The team is moved to Henderson, Indiana on June 13 and on July 20 the league collapses.
Nashville's next foray into professional baseball came in 1901 as a member of the Southern Association of Baseball Clubs. Known by a variety of names, in 1908 Nashville sports writer Grantland Rice held a contest for fans to decide an official team name for the Nashville Baseball Club. The name "Volunteers" was selected, often shortened to "Vols". The team remained a member of the league until declining attendance doomed the club and the death knell of the Southern Association in 1961 ended the Nashville Vols’ participation in the old league. As a farm club of the Minnesota Twins that year, interest waned not only in the team but the rickety old Sulphur Dell ballpark as well. In 1962 there was no professional baseball in Nashville.
In 1920 Tom T. Wilson chartered the Nashville Standard Giants semi-pro team. In 1930 his team gained entry into the Negro National League and he renamed his club the Nashville Elite Giants. In 1932 Wilson moved his team to Cleveland. Although the league disbanded that year, another opportunity arose in 1933 for him to place a team in the resurrected Negro National League. He built his own park for his team, Wilson Park which was often used as a practice field by other Negro League teams for spring training.
With no baseball in 1962 the ownership group resurrected the Nashville Vols as a Los Angeles Angels farm club with membership in South Atlantic League, a Class A league, for the 1963 season. The public did not show their support as less than 55,000 fans attended games. It turned out to be the costliest season in Nashville Vols history and in September, faced with a debt of $22,000 and with no cash on hand, Vols, Inc. surrendered their South Atlantic League franchise. The final day of baseball at Sulphur Dell was a double-header against Lynchburg on September 7, 1963, thus ending the storied baseball history of Sulphur Dell.
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