Tag Archives: Negro League Baseball Museum

Listening In With Butch and Me

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.

ButchMcCordI 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.

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Baseball Shrines

Sulphur Dell was the baseball home of not only the Nashville Vols, but also the Negro League Nashville Elite Giants, Black Vols, Stars, and Cubs. Major league teams played exhibition games there, too,  as they moved north from spring training. Amateur league and high school games were often played at the famous park, especially when it came to all star games and tournaments.baseball_resized

What is not so well known is the ballpark was used as a venue for other types of entertainment: professional wrestling matches, donkey races, concerts, and circuses. After baseball was gone, Sulphur Dell “the ballpark” became Sulphur Dell “the speedway” when it was turned into a racetrack for a few weeks in 1965.

To me, Sulphur Dell was a ballpark, so I don’t give much credit to other forms of entertainment that took up brief residence. Nashville Banner sports editor Fred Russell once wrote that the ballpark was even a tourist destination, as some visitors to Nashville just had take in the famous outfield and short right field fence.

I have been fortunate to visit baseball shrines around the country.  Off the top of my head, this is my list, limited to major league ballparks and special venues in no particular order.  Which ones have you been to, and which one was your favorite to visit?

  • Baseball Hall of Fame, Cooperstown
  • Field of Dreams movie site, Dyersville Iowa
  • Louisville Slugger Museum, Louisville
  • Wrigley Field, Chicago
  • US Cellular Ballpark, Chicago
  • Fenway Park, Boston
  • Yankee Stadium, New York City
  • Veterans Stadium, Philadelphia
  • Riverfront Stadium, Cincinnati
  • Great American Ballpark, Cincinnati
  • Reds Hall of Fame & Museum, Cincinnati
  • Sportsman Park, St. Louis
  • Busch Stadium I, St. Louis
  • Busch Stadium II, St. Louis
  • Three Rivers Stadium, Pittsburgh
  • Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, Atlanta
  • Turner Field, Atlanta
  • Royals Stadium, Kansas City
  • Negro League Baseball Museum, Kansas City
  • The Ballpark at Arlington
  • Texas Rangers Hall of Fame
  • Angels Stadium, Anaheim
  • Memorial Stadium, Baltimore
  • Astrodome, Houston
  • Chase Field, Phoenix

			

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