When the Nashville baseball club organized to play in the inaugural Southern League in 1885, it was known as just that: the Nashville Baseball Club. The Nashville Daily American called the team the “Americans” since the local newspaper published daily accounts of the team’s games.
Names for subsequent teams in the late 1800s: Tigers, Blues, and Seraphs.
When the Southern Association was formed in 1901, there was still not official name for the home team. When Mike Finn was manager in 1905-1906 the team was often called the Nashville “Finnites”, and likewise during 1907 when Johnny Dobbs led the team known as the “Dobbers”.
The team was called the “Senators” in some newspaper accounts, probably due to the proximity to the state capitol.
In 1908 sportswriter Grantland Rice, writing for the Nashville Tennessean, held a mail-in contest to determine an “official” team name. The three choices he offered to the public: The “Limerocks” (due to the abundance of limestone in the area), the “Rocks” (shortened from “Limerocks”), and Volunteers (Tennessee is the “VolunteerState” and the state capitol could be easily viewed from the ballpark).
“Volunteers” easily won out; subsequently, the team was usually referred to as the “Vols”. The named remained throughout the remainder of Nashville’s professional team’s existence until the club was disbanded after the 1963 season.