David Price remembers the sounds. In fact, to this day, he still hears them.
“Every time I watch Vanderbilt baseball games,” he said to Music City Baseball, “I’m reminded of it. Because I hear them. I see them. It’s just so awesome to know they’re still out there cheering.”
Price is talking, of course, about the Vanderbilt whistlers; two fans who, for many years, have attended Vanderbilt baseball games near and far, leading Commodore faithful in their cheers through high-pitched whistling.
But according to Price, the whistlers are merely a piece of the puzzle. While they may the two most prominent fans, they’re two of many. And that’s what makes the Vanderbilt fanbase so special.
“We have a lot of longtime, loyal, faithful fans. They were just absolutely everything we could have asked of our supporters while I was there. My parents still text with them and stay in some of their houses whenever they go to games. Vandy definitely has a very loyal fan base, but I think that’s really a part of SEC baseball. That is something you see it a lot of SEC schools. And it’s really cool.”
Price, a former Vanderbilt baseball player himself, pitched for the Black and Gold for three seasons before being selected by the Tampa Bay Rays with the first overall pick in the 2007 MLB Draft. Since then, Price’s 12-year professional career has seen him star for the Rays, Tigers, Blue Jays and Red Sox, win the AL Cy Young Award, be named to five All-Star Games and win a World Series before being traded to the Dodgers last offseason.
Along the way, though, Price kept in touch with his Vanderbilt community. From Tim Corbin and the rest of the coaching staff, to his former teammates and one man who he described as a “great friend, through and through”: David Williams.
“I think I first met David Williams at freshman orientation. I remember that. And I mean, it makes sense I would meet him the first time I ever stepped on campus as a student, just because he was always around. I feel like I saw him very, very, very often, and I know all student-athletes would say the same. And that was just so unique because at the end of the day, David was a vice chancellor. How common is it for a vice chancellor to have that strong of a personal connection to their student-athletes—at any school?”
Much like Price, Williams had a unique bond to the city of Nashville. The former athletic director helped propel Vanderbilt Commodore programs to new heights, reaching levels of success with which Vanderbilt had previously been unfamiliar.
Williams was also a vehement supporter of bringing Major League Baseball to Nashville, as he acknowledged, “this opportunity is much bigger than the game of baseball.”
And while Price may have built a baseball career of his own—one that extends far past his roots in Nashville—the Murfreesboro, Tennessee native recognizes the same opportunity that Williams noted: an opportunity for Nashville entertainment, and an even greater opportunity for honoring the history of Negro League Baseball.
“A lot of people in Nashville love baseball,” he said. “There’s a lot of country music stars, actors, actresses and a lot of high-profile people in Nashville that love baseball. The only thing they have to cling on to is Vanderbilt baseball. Then having it named after a Negro League team, that’s just really cool. It would be very special. I’m sure a lot of people, a lot of baseball fans, a lot of players, a lot of people in the world would appreciate that. That’d be a very good gesture.”
“Nashville is a great city that has it all: great food, great music, gives you all four seasons, entertaining, and more. It’s just a great city. It seems like MLB might be the only thing it’s missing.”