The Nashville Sounds hit mid-life as they enter their 40th season in Nashville. Today they have their home opener at First Tennessee Park against the Oklahoma City Dodgers. Sounds fans will remember that the Dodgers eliminated the Sounds in the playoffs last year. The Sounds today’s home opener with a record of 2-3 after a season opening series at Round Rock.
The Sounds began play in the Southern League in 1978. They finished their first season with a 64-77 record as the affiliate for the Cincinnati Reds. In 1979, the Sounds went 83-61 and won the league title over the Columbus (GA) Astros.
The Sounds have won three league titles in their existence. In addition to the 1979 title, they also won the Southern League title in 1982 over the Jacksonville Suns. They won the Pacific Coast League (PCL) championship in 2005 over the Tacoma Rainiers. The Sounds have reached the postseason 14 times and have won ten division titles and two conference titles.
They have gone through several affiliations with Major League Baseball (MLB) teams. They have been affiliated with the Cincinnati Reds (1978-1979, 1987-1992), New York Yankees (1980-1984), Detroit Tigers (1985-1986), Chicago White Sox (1993-1997), Pittsburgh Pirates (1998-2004), Milwaukee Brewers (2005-2014) and Oakland A’s (2015-2016).
Stump Merrill had the best winning percentage as the Sounds’ manager from 1980-1981 with 178 wins and 108 losses. The Sounds had their best record in franchise history (97-46) in the 1980 season.
Some of the most notable players to have played with the Sounds and went on to Major League careers are: Rob Dibble (Pitcher, 1987-88), Doug Drabek (Pitcher, 1984), Trevor Hoffman (Pitcher, 1992/2009), Barry Larkin (Shortstop, 1989), Don Mattingly (First Baseman/Outfielder, 1981), Willie McGee (Outfielder, 1980-81), Otis Nixon (Shortstop, 1981-82) and many others.
The Sounds have had two homes in Nashville. They began at Herschel Greer Stadium and moved to the new 8,500-seat First Tennessee Park in 2015. The new stadium is really one of the nicest minor league parks in the country.
Although some have hinted at bringing a Major League team to Nashville, I really don’t see that happening anytime in the near future. I would like to see a better alignment in AAA where there weren’t any separate leagues but just one AAA league. The Sounds are definitely a “big league” minor league team as they begin their 40th season.