April 17, 2015 will always be a special memory for me; so many great things happened that day. Some were expected, many were not, but with the opening of First Tennessee Park near the site of the Sulphur Dell ballpark all were a dream come true.
Here are a few observations, special memories, and special people who were there. I’ll remember these for a long time:
- Carol Yochem, president, Middle Tennessee Region, First Tennessee Bank. We were able to speak for a few minutes before the ribbon cutting. It was our second meeting; the first was at the unveiling of the new ballpark concept. Carol, thank you for your kind words in person and in your Tennessee Voices column of Friday’s Tennessean, and thank you for being the driving force behind our beautiful new ballpark.
- My wife Sheila, my son Chris and grandson Brody, my father Virgil and brother Jim. We were able to attend Opening Day together. These are the special people in my life who have supported my research and writing for many years. Thanks for being there to share wonderful memories.
- Dave Ammenheuser, Tennessean Sports Columnist. We were able to hear stories from Nashville Vols Buddy Gilbert, Larry Taylor, Roy Pardue, and Bobby Durnbaugh. Wasn’t that one of the best baseball moments? You are a true professional, but your recent friendship means more than a walk off grand slam homer over the Sulphur Dell right-field fence.
- Farrell Owens, Andy Lane, and Eddie Dempsey. Friends extraordinaire, it was great to relive stories of baseball history with you while we were navigating the new ballpark.
- Toby Compton. You have become the reliable face of the Nashville Sports Authority. Your ability to alleviate concerns for building costs and traffic issues has been top-notch.
- Ushers and operations staff at First Tennessee Park. When the ushers wipe the seats off before letting fans sit in them, that’s a professional service that was missed at Greer Stadium. Food and beverage service? You bet it was.
- Thomas Trotter and the grounds crew. These guys do not get enough accolades. Yes, it was a new field, but Thomas and his team were able to perfect it for their specifications. It was perfect.
- Media coverage. The number of reporters and cameras along “media row” on the third base concourse gave credence to the importance of this historic event.
- Families and friends of Nashville Vols players Bobby Durnbaugh, Larry Taylor, Buddy Gilbert, and Roy Pardue. Getting these guys to the ballpark to share their stories are nearly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. How great was it to see these Sulphur Dell idols together?
- Sulphur Dell marquee. Not the original but a great testament to what once was, no doubt. Just thinking about the memories that are stirred by seeing this iconic marker. Wow.
© 2015 by Skip Nipper. All Rights Reserved.