The year was 1978 when minor league baseball returned to Nashville. Larry Schmittou’s dream — the Nashville Sounds — were a hit with fans from that first game at packed Herschel Greer Stadium. Now, 45 years later, the Sounds are two weeks away from launching their eighth season at sparkling First Horizon Park in the Germantown neighborhood where pro baseball began some 140 years ago. That’s the subject of my story in the March 17-23 edition of the Ledger.
“You know, the Sounds are an interesting concept. Of course, they were started in 1978 by Larry Schmittou after a 15-year absence of professional baseball in Nashville. And it just seems to have been popular since 1978,” says baseball researcher and historian Skip Nipper, author of Baseball in Nashville (2007) and host of the Skip’s Corner podcast. “I think First Horizon Park is one of the best ballparks for the Triple-A baseball teams.
“It’s an event, just about the whole ballgame. You know, from the beginning to the end there’s something going on, either the game itself or some entertainment. My hat’s off to the Sounds. They do a wonderful job.”
The Nashville Sounds’ season begins March 31 at First Horizon Park.
–Ledger cover by Mike Hopey
Larry Woody, a three-time Tennessee sportswriter of the year, credits Sounds founder Schmittou for paving the way for today’s pro sports landscape with the Titans, Nashville Predators and Nashville SC teams.
“There wouldn’t be a (First Horizon) park without Larry Schmittou. And there wouldn’t be pro baseball and, frankly, I don’t know if we’d have other pro sports because Larry Schmittou’s success with the Nashville Sounds and Greer Stadium attracted national attention,” says Woody, author of Schmittou: A Grand Slam in Baseball, Business and Life (1996).
“Sports Illustrated was doing stories about setting the minor league attendance records, and the Sounds got national attention. It was the place to be here in the spring and summer. You had the country music celebrities hanging out – Conway Twitty, Loretta Lynn, Jerry Reed, (the Oak Ridge Boys’) Richard Sterban – a who’s who of country music showed up at Greer Stadium. You might go out