Nashville is better known for its music than its sports: you’re more likely to hear a country ballad than the shouts of “play ball.” But, while it may not be a culture dominated by athletics, that doesn’t mean it’s not a good sport about them. In fact, the Nashville Sounds are a popular minor league team affiliated with the Oakland A’s. They play in the Pacific Coast League, in Triple-A.
The Nashville Sounds played their ball in the same place for 37 years – Greer Stadium. For many area locals, the mere mention of Greer elicits memories of Cracker Jacks and hot dogs. It was a mainstay of the baseball faithful for decades.
Mired in history, it was built on the grounds of Fort Negley, a fortification originally constructed during the American Civil War. It’s located two miles south of downtown Nashville and has a capacity of just over ten thousand people.
In 2014, a new stadium was built for the Nashville Sounds and Greer was left abandoned. It’s now completely closed, with the stadium seats faded and cracked from years of sunlight. The field is overgrown, the sod replaced by weeds and grass, and the windows are broken – shards of glass lay where children’s discarded gum wrappers once sat.
Like any abandoned building, the structure is an eyesore for local citizens. But it’s also hauntingly beautiful, filled with relics of the past. That’s enough to make it appealing to photographers and historians.
The stadium carries a piece of baseball lore within its walls. From the guitar-shaped scoreboard (a nod to the famed musical roots of the city) to the minor league all-star games featured on the grounds, it offers a unique experience. It was also the site of eight no-hitters (including two that happened on back to back nights) and one perfect game. Of course, like any baseball stadium, it featured numerous future stars in the years before they found success. It also holds a record.
On May 5, 2006 (and, subsequently, May 6), the longest game in Pacific Coast League history (in terms of innings) was played at Greer. For twenty-four innings, the New Orleans Zephyrs battled with the Nashville Sounds. Played over a two-day period, the Zephyrs ultimately won, defeating the Sounds 5-4. The entire game lasted eight hours and seven minutes.
As ground for the more modern facility broke, Greer’s time became limited and its days numbered. The Sounds’ began to play in their new home of First Tennessee Park as soon as construction completed. The corporate offices quickly followed, relocating for good in 2015. It wasn’t surprising, given that Greer had been one of the oldest minor league ballparks in the country and, as a result, lacked the amenities sought by both fans and players.
Currently, Greer still stands in the same place, but this likely won’t last long. While its future remains up in the air as of now, the Metropolitan Nashville government has proposed its demolition, perhaps leading to the sounds of silence, if only for a brief time.