Here lies Herschel Greer, a Nashville businessman who helped to keep minor league baseball in Music City. The Nashville Sounds played at Herschel Greer Stadium until 2014.
Greer founded Guaranty Mortgage Co. and served as its president from 1940 until 1969. More to the point of our story, Greer was a big baseball fan. In 1959, the Southern Association was falling on hard times, and the Nashville Vols were just one of the teams that had money problems. You could argue that the SA was too far behind the times and needed to die off, as it was still a whites-only league (except for 1 player in 1954). Franchises changed cities frequently, and in order to keep the Vols in Nashville, Greer organized Vols Inc. The corporation consisted of 13 area businessmen, most notably country music legend Eddy Arnold, and they sold almost 5,000 shares of stock at $5 each. They acquired the team in February of 1959, with Greer as its president. Unfortunately for them, the whole Southern Association collapsed in 1961. The Vols didn’t play at all in 1962 and joined the South Atlantic League in 1963, but after that year, the team had too much debt to continue operations.
Herschel Greer died on March 19, 1976 at the age of 69. He didn’t get to see baseball return to Nashville, as the Nashville Sounds weren’t formed until 1978. However, Greer’s family did donate $25,000 for the construction of a brand-new stadium, which was named after him. Greer Stadium’s signature 53-foot-tall guitar-shaped scoreboard was installed in 1993. The Sounds played there through 2014, moving to First Tennessee Park in 2015.
The ultimate fate of Greer Stadium is an ongoing issue in Nashville. The park sits abandoned and vandalized today. A complication is that it’s located close to the Civil War-era Fort Negley, which was built for the Union forces in 1862 after they occupied the city. Archaeologists have determined that there is a high likelihood that the remains of the slaves who built the fort are buried on the site. That revelation killed off plans for a mixed-use development deal. The latest idea is to tear down Greer Stadium and make it all a historic park. Hopefully, they at least keep the scoreboard.