Baseball's roots in Nashville go back to the 19th Century. In fact, Nashville has been a baseball town since 1860 when Union soldiers temporarily based here introduced the game to the local community. Home field was a place known as the Sulphur Springs Bottom, a half-mile north of today's state capitol.
When the Southern League was organized in 1885, Nashville was a charter city. The city fielded several entries in the league over the next ten years -- the Americans (1885-86), the Blues (1887), the Tigers (1893-94), and the Seraphs (1895) -- but was unable to claim a pennant.
When the Southern Association was formed in 1901, the field -- commonly referred to as Sulphur Dell -- became the permanent home to the Nashville Volunteers (or Vols, for short), who played there for the next 61 years. Under the guidance of manager Newt Fisher, the Volunteers won the SA's first two pennants, and the team continued to build a solid, loyal fan base. Over the years, Nashville would stake claim to several more pennants, 18 SA batting championships, and the all-time SA home run mark (Bob Lennon blasted 64 longballs in 1954).
The hitters weren't the only players experiencing success, however. Vols hurlers notched 16 SA strikeout titles -- more than any other team -- and Nashville produced several 20-game winners. But year after year, the league's ERA title eluded Nashville pitchers, mainly due to the extremely short 262-foot porch in right field that resulted in countless home runs for left-handed sluggers and caused pitchers to refer to the ballpark as "Sulphur Hell."
At the conclusion of the 1961 season, the Southern Association disbanded and Sulphur Dell sat empty for a year. But, in 1963 the South Atlantic League came to town and Nashville had its first Double-A team. Unfortunately, the Double-A Vols had a disappointing inaugural season and the franchise folded. Sulphur Dell was razed and a parking lot was built on the site.