Baseball in Oktober(fest)

For the eleventh straight year, Nashville’s Oktoberfest on the second Saturday in October has been an autumn staple for me. Lots of people have come by my Sulphur Dell booth to relate a story, ask about a relative who may have played at Sulphur Dell, and maybe take home a t-shirt and a memory or two.

Usually the first person to come by to say hello is Pete Mason, and today was no exception. At 9 AM when the festival opened, Pete was there. He loves his memories of the old ballpark and enjoys going through my t-shirts to see what’s new.

Glenn Seigenthaler stopped in to tell me about his grandfather, Valter Keaton, who was night watchman at the ballpark in the 1950s. Glenn remembers going to Sulphur Dell and sleeping on an army cot in his grandfather’s quarters.

Another faithful annual visitor is Tony Roberts who, like me, enjoys collecting Sulphur Dell memorabilia. He and his wife Ellen have become valued friends over the years.

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Thank you, Diane Rochelle, for telling me about your memories of your uncle, Ray Hamrick, Nashville Vols shortstop In 1943!

It was truly a pleasure to finally meet Metro Nashville Councilman Jerry Maynard. He was instrumental in bringing attention to a new ballpark at Sulphur Dell, and his smile and enthusiastic demeanor are infectious.

I did not catch the name of one very nice lady who told me that her grandparents owned a grocery store across from Sulphur Dell in the 1940s.

Two Tennessee Vintage Baseball Association players, Corn Bread and Jeff Wells, brought me a t-shirt for the newly-formed Stewarts Creek Scouts who will play home games at the Sam Davis’ Home in Smyrna in 2014.

Realtor Harold Sutton was elated about the results of selling the Geist Blacksmith Shop near the Sulphur Dell site on Jefferson Street.  He shared with me what the new owner is planning for the old building, but I’ll save that announcement for those in the know.  It will be one of many new establishments in the area!

It was a real treat for me to meet Gail Acklen Taylor, step-daughter of former Negro Leaguer Jim Zapp. Gail is Muffy Zapp’s youngest daughter. Ms. Muffy passed away earlier this year and was one of the nicest ladies I ever met.

Sadly, but understandably, “Zapper” moved near Austin, Texas to be close to one of his sons.

The crowd began to thin out around 5 PM, but it had been wonderful day. As he usually does, former Nashville Sounds GM and dear friend Farrell Owens helped me hold down the fort until dark, then helped me close down and load up.

Thanks to him, and my son Chris who helped me set up this morning. Chris produces my t-shirts and caps and has a terrific eye for colors and design.

One final observation: not one person out of approximately 150 people who asked me about the building of a new baseball stadium had a negative comment. Not one.

I’ll be back next year, and I’ll bet we will be talking to everyone about where their seats are for opening day in 2015 at the new Sulphur Dell.

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