Today’s announcement that the new Nashville Sounds ballpark would be named “First Tennessee Ballpark” seems to put an end to any hope that “Sulphur Dell” would be included in the name. There had been no promises, no announcement to that end, no discussion that I am aware of that ever committed to the idea.
Are you angry about that? Are you disappointed? Why?
Yes, the Sounds and Mayor Dean’s office passed out Sulphur Dell t-shirts at the citizen’s information meeting at the Farmers Market and used the name in press releases, publications, and signs.
If you and your community thought the name was used in how the whole idea of a new downtown ballpark was presented to the citizens of Nashville, I understand. If politicians used the name to forward their own impact on constituents, I understand. Maybe you feel betrayed, I don’t know – I don’t live in the city but I can see why you might not be happy about today’s announcement.
The new ballpark, all shiny and new, will be a terrific addition to the downtown community. It will be the ballpark that Nashville deserves, and in the proximity of the old one. But, no, the new ballpark won’t be Sulphur Dell. Nor should it be, anyway.
As owner, developer, and writer of www.sulphurdell.com, for whatever it’s worth, my take is this: If the name of the new ballpark had included “Sulphur Dell”, the memories that we hold near and dear would begin to fade. We can’t bring “it” back, none of it: The right field dump. The outfield dimensions including the right field line that was only 262 feet. The “drained-out bathtub” quirkiness of the colorful ballpark that in right field was 22 1/2 feet above the playing surface. The “mountain goats” roaming the outfield hills. The tall outfield fence. Larry Munson’s raspy voice on the radio. The smell -gosh, I could go on and on – these would all be hollow memories of a beloved iconic ballpark, stamped in time.
Thoughts of the old ballpark often take us back when life was slower, when baseball was a game to be watched and not as a side attraction to popcorn, hot dogs, to nachos and cheese, a time when we could almost reach out and touch a player and invite him over for supper. Those will continue in our minds, in our photo albums, our books, and in our visits together.
There may be a void in the new ballpark for some fans, so at this point I am glad we are where we are together. I’ve been quietly working on a new website design and what you see today is not close to the finished product. But I promise that this labor of love will be better than it was. I enjoy studying, researching, remembering, and writing about Nashville’s famous ballpark. I just hope I can do your memories justice.
Bear with me, won’t you? Don’t we still have lots to tell and share?
In the meantime, share your memories with me, watch what I write on the Sulphur Dell Ballpark page on Facebook (www.facebook.com/Sulphurdell) and look forward to a new ballpark for a new generation to build their own recollections.
© 2014 by Skip Nipper. All Rights Reserved.