It was Conway Twitty who threw the first pitch at Herschel Greer Stadium’s inaugural game on April 26, 1978. The country star was an early shareholder in the Sounds, instrumental in raising money to build Greer.
Construction had barely finished in time at the then 7,200 seat facility, equipped with re-purposed seats from the Atlanta Braves’ Fulton-County Stadium outfield. The sod had been laid just days before with the help of around 50 fans, called to action by the Sounds’ first general manager Farrell Owens on local radio broadcasts. Owens, who ran the Sounds until 1982, explained the last-minute scramble to writer Dave Hoekstra:
“We didn’t have electricity 30 minutes before the game. But people came, drank their beer and ate their hot dogs. We won. Everyone was happy. Nashville beat Savannah 12-4, even though Sounds relief pitcher Larry Rothschild gave up three runs in one-third of an inning.”
Since then, the stadium has had its ups, and more recently, downs. The park expanded through the eighties and nineties, growing in seats, sky boxes, and its now-iconic guitar shaped scoreboard. Owens says country music stars like Roy Acuff and Barbara Mandrell used to attend games regularly. Greer hosted major league teams for exhibition games, too, including the New York Yankees when Reggie Jackson was a player and Yogi Berra was a coach. But now, as the third oldest AAA park, it’s considered past its heyday and below league standards.
Owens hopes the move to Sulphur Dell will capture some of the old excitement, saying “It was a place to be seen. Hopefully when we get the new stadium it will get back like that.”
Wednesday night’s game may not be the last, as the Sounds are in the chase for a division title and may end up hosting some playoff games. But the team and fans have been saying goodbye for weeks under the slogan “last cheer at Greer”.
WPLN photographer Stephen Jerkins took his camera to a game on a recent Sunday, the day the Sounds usually don camouflage uniforms out of solidarity with U.S. Armed Forces. Here’s a gallery of Stephen’s photos: