Dealin’ In Durham

The 2014 Triple-A All-Star Game held in Durham on Wednesday was a successful one for the Sounds, as pitchers Mike Fiers and Donovan Hand made sure the Music City was represented well in the showcase.

Fiers retired all four batters he faced in relief, striking out three. Fiers will look to continue his success with the pennant race heating up, as he ranks second in the PCL with 111 strikeouts and third in the league with a 2.52 ERA.

Hand also pitched effectively, twirling 0.2 scoreless innings and helping the PCL escape a late jam. The night will be especially memorable in the Hand household, as the newest addition to the family got to watch her dad pitch for the first time.

The players weren’t the only Sounds personnel to make the trek to Durham, as some of our front office staff attended the festivities as well. While at the park, they tried some of Durham Bulls Athletic Park’s concession offerings, which were, um, interesting to say the least.

 

The Sounds will begin the stretch run to the playoffs Thursday in Oklahoma City for a four game series before returning home for an eight game homestand.

Hear the Sounds in Minnesota

On Sunday, Major League Baseball announced selections for the 2014 All-Star Game to be played in Minneapolis on July 15. Sounds fans may be full of nostalgia after looking at the rosters, as four Nashville alums will be playing in the game. Let’s take a closer look at what these players did during their playing days at Greer Stadium.

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Aramis Ramirez (1998-2000) – Aramis is experiencing a revival in 2014, and fans rewarded him by voting Ramirez to be the starting third baseman for the National League after posting a .287 average with 11 HR and 47 RBI in his first 63 games in 2014. Ramirez, who will be the first ever Brewers third baseman to start in the Midsummer Classic, played in Nashville for parts of three seasons from 1998-2000. His best season was in 1999, where Rami was named a PCL All-Star, hitting 21 homers and knocking in 71 runs. The most impressive thing about that campaign? He was just 21 years old.

Nelson Cruz (2005-2006) – The only non-Brewer on this list, Cruz became a fan favorite in his two seasons in Music City, where he hit 31 homers in 164 career games with the Sounds and appeared in the 2006 Triple-A All-Star Game and Home Run Derby. The slugger carried the Sounds to the PCL title in 2005 and was named the post-season MVP. Cruz has seen a resurgence in his first year in Baltimore, as he is tied for the MLB lead with 27 homers and 71 RBIs in 2014 and was elected as the starting DH for the American League.

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Jonathan Lucroy (2010) – Lucroy may be a new star to most baseball fans across the country, but not to Sounds fans that saw him play at the Big Guitar in 2010. Lucroy played in just 21 games for Nashville that year, but made his presence felt defensively, where he threw out 8 of 15 baserunners. Through the 454 major league games he’s played since his time in Nashville, Lucroy has posted a .279 average including a .329 mark through 82 games in 2014.

Francisco Rodriguez (2013) – It may be easy to overlook K-Rod’s two career games with the Sounds in 2013, but it may be a sign of when his impressive comeback began. After two scoreless appearances in Nashville, he was called up to the Brewers where he has never looked back. After posting a 1.09 ERA in 25 games during the 2013 season, K-Rod has followed up in 2014 by posting a league-leading 27 saves at the time of his selection to the All-Star Game.

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In addition to these four players, all-stars Carlos Gomez (2010) and Zach Greinke (2011) were members of the Sounds during rehab assignments.

Throwing It Back To 1864

There have been thousands of baseball games played at Greer Stadium over the years, but none quite like the one on Sunday, June 29.

The players on the field donned pillbox hats, and score was kept on a chalkboard instead of the guitar scoreboard.

Fans were doing a double take. Did these players somehow discover time travel?

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The answer was no. Instead, Sounds fans were being treated to the first ever Tennessee Association of Vintage Base Ball All-Star Game in Nashville’s first ‘Past & Present Doubleheader’. The league, which is now in its second year of play, features eight teams from around the state that play under the rules and dress found in 1864.

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While playing in a style from 150 years ago, there are still many similarities to modern baseball. There are nine players, four bases that are 90 feet apart and an umpire (or “judge”) that controls play.

But there are some big differences as well, with the biggest being that the players don’t wear gloves since they were not invented yet. Another interesting rule from the time as a result is that fielders can catch fly balls on one hop to record an out.

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The all-star game, which was the opener of Sunday’s doubleheader, featured plenty of pageantry, including a first pitch from Abraham Lincoln.

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The league’s players were also thrilled to get to play on a professional field.

“We have players at all levels from novice to those who played in college,” TAoVBB commissioner Michael Thurmon said. “It’s a dream of any baseball player at any level to play on a professional baseball field. It was a special feeling.”

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While the North defeated the South 7-0 in the game, all the particiapants had a fun time, which is what one of the main goals of the association.

“There’s a camaraderie we have,” Thurmon said. “Back then, everyone was out there for fun and playing as a pastime in 1864, and that’s what we try to capture when we play today.”

You can check out more visuals from the event in our photo gallery. More information on the Tennessee Association of Vintage Base Ball official website.

Fireworks at the Big Guitar

Everybody loves a good fireworks show, and the ones at Greer Stadium every Friday and Saturday deliver.

While the displays look amazing from the seats, check out the view from the air. The video below was shot from a drone being flown by Sounds pitchers and part-time drone pilots Alfredo Figaro and Jeremy Jeffress.

More drone adventures to come….

Greer’s Final Countdown

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Fans who make their way to Greer Stadium during this homestand may notice a new addition to the outfield fence near center field.

For the last 40 home games, the #LastCheerAtGreer Countdown Banner will let everyone in the stadium know how many games remain in the history of Nashville’s beloved ballpark.

The sign will also be the center of attention at the end of the fifth inning of every game, as special fans and guests get to change the sign and bring the countdown closer to zero. The stories of each of these honored guests will be featured on our #LastCheerAtGreer Countdown webpage on NashvilleSounds.com, which will be updated as the season progresses.

Check out countdown here!

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For The Love Of The Ballpark

As the 37th and final season at Greer Stadium rolls on, there’s one thing that becomes clear: There’s something romantic about watching a game here.

Nashville-Sounds-fans-Tony-and-Holly-LaGuardiaThe quaint but homely atmosphere appeals to many, especially to Tony and Holly LaGuardia. That’s why Tony felt it was the perfect place to propose to Holly at a Sounds game.

Some may be confused as to why someone would ask the most important question of his life at a ballpark, but the decision was easy for Tony.

“We moved here about four and a half years ago and when we came here, [Greer Stadium] was our getaway because we didn’t know anyone,” Tony said. “And I thought ‘why not here?’” It’s the one thing that’s stood out.”

Two years later, the happily married couple celebrated their anniversary at the stadium on May 28. The highlight of the evening came when Tony got to throw out the first pitch prior to the Sounds’ game that night against Colorado Springs.

The story of how the two got to this point seems straight out of movie. The pair dated for eight years when they lived in California. They separated, but began dating again five years later. They were looking for a new beginning, and decided Nashville was the place to do it.

“We figured Nashville was the perfect place,” Tony said. “You got the city life with the small-town atmosphere, and it’s just perfect.”

The LaGuardias admit it will be tough to see Greer Stadium close its doors for good at the end of the season, as this ballpark will always hold a special place in their lives.

“It’s really sad,” Holly said. “We’re both sentimental people.”

The couple does say, though that they are also looking forward to the Sounds new home in 2015, First Tennessee Park.

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Groundbreaking Loop

On Monday, January 27, the Sounds turned dirt towards a brand new ballpark at Sulphur Dell–the historic site of Nashville baseball. The moment was long-awaited, and many people were on hand to help make the event special: Sounds owner Frank Ward, Mayor Karl Dean, Brewers GM Doug Melvin, Sounds first baseman Hunter Morris, major league slugger Albert Pujols, President of Minor League Baseball Pat O’Conner and several long-time Sounds fans and supporters.

Fans wanting to relive the fun can check out this video of the speeches; our Facebook photo gallery of the ceremony; and/or broadcaster Jeff Hem’s photo gallery on his blog “On the Air…And Off”.

With all of the above coverage, you would think the bases were covered…but let’s be honest…what’s a great historic moment without an animated GIF?

That’s where Sound Bytes comes in! Enjoy the unending unearthing below!

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L to R: Metro Councilman Jerry Maynard, Metro Councilwoman Erica Gilmore, Tennessee State Senator Thelma Harper, Mayor Karl Dean, Frank Ward, Doug Melvin, Metro Sports Authority representative Kim Atkins, and Pat O’Conner.

5 Sound Facts To Know For 2014

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1. The Sounds have a new manager.

With former Sounds manager Mike Guerrero having received the call up, Nashville welcomes a new skipper to Greer’s home clubhouse. Taking over the ship for Nashville will be 61-year-old Rick Sweet, who begins his 24th managerial season and the first season within the Brewers farm system. Sweet last wore a manager’s cap with the Louisville Bats (2005-2011), who he led to division championships in three of his last four seasons. After the 2011 season, he left Louisville as the franchise’s winningest manager in franchise history (539-465). Sweet will need 321 wins to claim that title in Nashville, currently held by Trent Jewett’s 320 wins and .513 average.

2. The Sounds have changed divisions.

Sweet and the Sounds will both be charting new waters this spring as they join the American Conference’s Southern Division after spending the last nine season’s in the Pacific Coast League’s American Northern. The division consists of the previous cross-state rival Memphis Redbirds (STL) and new division foes the New Orleans Zephyrs (MIA) and the Round Rock Express (TEX). All in all, the realignment does not change a whole lot at the divisional level: the Sounds have always played these teams 16 times each year. But at the conference level, the Colorado Spring Sky Sox (COL) and Albuquerque Isotopes (LAD) have switched, which will pit the Rockies Triple-A affiliate against the Sounds 16 times a year (eight in Nashville) and the Dodgers PCL club only four times a season (rotating homestands every other year).

3. The PCL’s newest team is named the El Paso Chihuahuas.

Easy there lap dog lovers, the Sounds won’t get to see these perilous pups in Nashville until 2015, though tickets to this year’s series in Texas are most likely available here.

4. The Sounds will play 72 scheduled games in their final season at Greer Stadium.

The 2014 season schedule will mark the Sounds final season at Greer Stadium. To honor the 37-year-home, the Sounds have created a commemorate Greer Stadium mark featuring the iconic scoreboard and outfield wall with the slogan ’37 Years of Hits’. The mark, pictured below, will be used on select giveaway items and merchandise. And any fan that celebrates Greer’s final year by purchasing full or half season tickets will be given priority purchasing for the new ballpark at Sulphur Dell.

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Greer Stadium: 37 Years of Hits

5. Greer will host 22 fireworks extravaganzas at the Big Guitar.

Every Friday and Saturday home game on the schedule (21 total) will be followed by a postgame fireworks show, beginning with the Sounds home opener on Friday, April 11. A bonus Independence Day show will take place after the game on Thursday, July 3rd. There’s even a ‘Deluxe Fireworks’ ticket plan for fans who don’t want to miss a show. More Sounds promotions and giveaways will be announced as the season nears.

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Fall Forecasting

In the shadows of Major League Baseball’s Postseason, tucked away on six fields in the Arizona desert, America’s pastime continues to develop its future stars. Minor League Baseball concluded around Labor Day, but now a select few have already returned to the diamond for the Arizona Fall League.

The Fall League is comprised of six different teams of nearly 40 players, each team with affiliations to five different major league clubs. For Opening Day (October 8), the Milwaukee Brewers will be sending seven farmhands to join the Surprise Saguaros; and, depending on who can best emulate their mighty cacti namesake, the tallest man standing will likely see time at Greer Stadium next summer.

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Leading the Brewers representatives are RHP Taylor Jungmann (23 years old), who entered the season ranked as the Brewers #3 prospect by Baseball America, and 2013 Brewers Minor League Player of the Year Jason Rogers (25 years old), both whom spent their entire 2013 season with Huntsville. Jungmann posted a 4.33 ERA (67er/139.1ip) in 26 starts with the Stars, having his best success on the road for a 2.87 ERA. Offensively, Rogers belted 22 home runs in 2013 with 87 RBIs and a .270 batting average (130-for-481) in 131 games manning first base. Rogers will be getting reps in the outfield this fall, however, possibly preparing for joining a roster with Sounds 1B Hunter Morris.

Also on the squad are relief pitchers David Goforth (24 years old), ranked as the Brewers #19 prospect by Baseball America, and Kevin Shackelford (24 years old). The pair joined the Stars midseason to appear in 20 games. Goforth (7er/46.2ip) started four games for Huntsville (3-1, 3.18) before heading to the bullpen (5 saves, 3.38), while Shackelford collected six saves as a Stars reliever for a 0.92 ERA (3er/29.1ip).

Rounding out the Brewers fallballers are RHP Tyler Cravy (24 years old), OF Mitch Haniger (22 years old), and C Adam Weisenburger (24 years old). Only Weisenburger saw time at Double-A in 2013.

So while baseball in Nashville isn’t due up until April 3, the Fall League will give us a taste of the talent heading our way. The AFL begins Tuesday, October 8 and concludes on Saturday, November 16.

Switching to Southern

For a period of nine baseball seasons, the Nashville Sounds have been members of the Pacific Coast League’s American Northern Division and have called the Memphis Redbirds, Iowa Cubs and Omaha Storm Chasers (and Omaha Royals) division rivals. But with 2014 on the horizon, the geography of the Pacific Coast League is changing.

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Beginning next season, the Sounds and the cross-state-and-still-division-rivals Memphis Redbirds will be taking their talents to the league’s American Southern Division. The new-look division will also consist of the New Orleans Zephyrs (AAA-Marlins), who shared a division with Nashville from 1998-2004, and the Round Rock Express (AAA-Rangers).

This minor league merry-go-round is a product of the Tucson Padres relocation to El Paso this offseason.

The Nashville Sounds went 655-654 in the American Northern Division from 2005-2013, logging the most PCL wins and only winning record among division opponents over that stretch (OMA-654, IWA-643; MEM-631).

After a few losing seasons, the division change should be a welcome sight for the Sounds, who won the Pacific Coast League Championship the last time the club changed divisions: in 2005, moving from the Eastern Division to the American Northern.

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