Words From The Past

“I was a fan of the Vols from June 1936 on (the first game I ever saw was when first baseman Jimmy Wasdell got his jaw broken by a pitched ball in 1936).  We went to many a game on Saturday, riding the bus to the ball park and getting in free because it was children’s day, buying a Pepsol and scorecard.  I still have cinders in my knee from the time I slipped and fell in the cinder parking lot.  The first time I saw another ballpark (Memphis), I wondered why it had a level right field!”

-Annette Levy Ratkin, Nashville

 “The name stuck with the locals, just as baseball had four decades earlier. (The irony that didn’t go unnoticed was that this ”dell” — the term for a tree-lined valley — was largely a coal-smoke-filled, flooding lowland. Part of it was even used as a city dump, its fires often sending out acrid fumes.)  Many in the early days used the streetcar to get to and from games. A line of parked streetcars awaited the ”wild scramble” of fans after the last out…seats in the initial grandstand were slatted wood with armrests.”

-George Zepp, Tennessean

 “I remember the spirit of Sulphur Dell, even in its dying days.  The crowds were sparse, the old stadium needed a good face lift, but the magic of the game and the exciting feeling of another game, another pitch, and the crack of the bat never lost its allure.

For a few fans, a sportswriter named George Leonard (my Dad), and an 8-year-old kid, every game was exciting.  I learned about scoring a game, how to run a scoreboard, and how to catch a foul ball at the Dell.  For me, the stadium has many fond memories.  I have a great photo of my Dad in the press box, hammering out another story on an old “Royal” typewriter, as he views the field below.  My Dad was in his element at the Park, and so was I!”

-Ernie Leonard, Nashville, TN

 “…the Vol board will consider offers for the park until Dec. 10, 1964.  If none has been received by then it was recommended that the land be disposed of ‘to the highest and best bidder and that the land be held until an acceptable offer is received.’

By ‘acceptable’, the committee said it meant ‘enough to pay the stockholders and all debts.

Three weeks ago the board surrendered Nashville’s franchise in the South Atlantic League following the club’s poorest attendance in history.  That action was approved by the stockholders.  Of the 50,000 shares of stock, 36,694 were represented at the meeting.”

-George Leonard, Nashville Banner, October 8, 1963

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