After developing http://www.sulphurdell.com 13 years ago I was invited to participate in a panel discussion at the Metro Archives in Green Hills, “Play Ball: A Look at Nashville Baseball“. Others on the panel included former Negro Leaguers Jim Zapp, Sydney Bunch, and Butch McCord along with former Nashville Vols Larry Taylor, Roy Pardue and a few others. After some discussion visitors were able to ask questions and casually view the exhibit of photographs, documents, and information on display.
The discussion helped to kick off renewed interest in the history of Nashville’s illustrious baseball past including Sulphur Dell. I will always be grateful for Metro Archives director Ken Fieth for his direction, and archivists Debie Oeser Cox and Linda Center, both since retired, for their assistance in making the event happen.
My father Virgil and I had become members of the Nashville Old Timers Baseball Association about that time, and Butch McCord was a member of the organization, too. Butch and I seemed to hit it off at the Archives and our relationship grew at Old Timers board meetings and events.
I was invited to his home where I met his lovely wife, Christine, and on that first visit he told story after story, shared his books and newspaper clippings about the Negro Leagues, and told about what Jackie Robinson did for the African-American community. Subsequent visits to his home brought more stories, more books, and more clippings, and more Jackie Robinson.
On returning from a trip I took to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City he told me how proud he was that I took an interest in Negro League history. I told him it began with him.
Often during the baseball season he would call me on Saturday mornings and we would continue our discussions. A Nashville Sounds season ticket holder, Butch would always mention something over the phone that had happened at a Sounds’ game during the week.
Butch loved to talk about the past, but his love of baseball allowed him to continue his interest in his hometown Nashville club.
If the Sounds had played an away game on Friday night, the first thing he would say when I answered my phone was, “Did you listen to the game last night?”
Saying I had, we would discuss the game; if I hadn’t we would still discuss the game, as Butch wanted to tell about it and use it as a lesson about baseball. That’s the kind of fan he was.
Listening to baseball broadcasts was something my dad, my brother Jim and I shared over the years. Television had pushed me away from that, but Butch helped bring me back to it.
I listen to the radio every chance I get, and tonight as the Nashville Sounds new season kicks off in Colorado Springs, I get another chance to hear my hometown Nashville club’s game. I’m anxious to know more about this club, the new players, and the new West Coast affiliation with the Oakland Athletics.
Nashville Sounds games are broadcast live in Middle Tennessee on 102.5 The Game (WPRT-FM) and online at http://www.thegamenashville.com/.
Won’t you join me as I “root, root, root for the home team” by listening to Sounds play-by-play announcer Jeff Hem’s broadcast of our favorite club? Game time is 7:35 P.M.
Butch passed away on January 27, 2011. I’ll be listening and thinking of him a little bit, knowing he’d be proud of me.
He’d be proud of you, too. Won’t you join us?
© 2015 by Skip Nipper. All Rights Reserved.