(Photos via Essential Broadcast Media)
(Photos via Essential Broadcast Media)

April 10, 2024 – It was October 20, 1990. Hootie & the Blowfish was playing a set and started the opening chords of “Let Her Cry.” But they had a problem – there was no singer. Darius Rucker had left the mic.

He hadn’t gotten sick. He hadn’t forgotten the words. Something bigger had happened. His favorite team — the Cincinnati Reds — had just beaten the Oakland A’s to become World Series Champions.

“Hootie is playing ‘Let Her Cry’ as the Reds won the 1990 World Series,” Rucker recalls. “I stopped singing and ran around the small club. The band kept playing. That’s my absolute favorite baseball memory.”

The love of baseball may have hit a high note that night, but it began years before. Rucker became a huge Cincinnati Reds fan as a kid. “It was during the Big Red Machine era, and I loved what Dave Concepción did at shortstop. He’s still my favorite player to this day. And then winning the World Series in 1975 and 1976 and playing the way they did with Pete Rose, Joe Morgan, George Foster, Ken Griffey, Sr. – all those guys made me fall in love with Cincinnati baseball then, and I still love it now.”

It’s no surprise that this musical superstar has brought his love of baseball to the Nashville Stars. As a Music Industry Advisor, he is helping to bring his favorite sport to his favorite city.

“I love both baseball and Nashville so much,” Rucker said. “I think it’s the perfect city to host a team when the league eventually expands, so I wanted to be part of that process to spotlight this city. You see the way Nashville embraces the Titans and the Preds – it’s a huge sports town and I think the city would embrace an MLB team that same way.”

And as a musician who’s most proud that his Country Music career is helping to push the door open a little wider for people who look like him, he wants to help the distinctive story of the Stars become a reality here.

“One of the most special things about baseball as a sport is the history behind the teams and the ballparks around the country,” Rucker said. “We have the opportunity to spotlight this really important part of baseball history in Nashville. The Stars were a part of the Negro Leagues in the ‘40s and ‘50s, and that gave a lot of great players who couldn’t play in other professional leagues a chance. The Stars can play a really important role in doing that same thing for baseball in this city.”

In addition to his excitement of another baseball season cheering on his Reds, Rucker has a lot going on musically. He released Carolyn’s Boy in October, the first new album in six years and “probably the most vulnerable project I’ve ever released.”

“I named it for my mom,” he said, “who passed away before Hootie & the Blowfish really took off, so she never got to really see any of my success. Yet she is still the reason behind everything I do.”

And it’s no surprise that a songwriter like Rucker would have a book to share as well. His first book, a memoir called “Life’s Too Short,” will be released on May 28. “This book shares a lot of my life that I haven’t talked about before through the lens of some of my favorite artists and songs, which is the only way I could imagine telling this story. I can’t wait for people to read it.”

You will also see his name on more than record labels, streaming charts and best-seller lists. He launched the new spring collection of his Fanatics apparel line, which started with the NFL and now includes all of the MLB clubs (and some NCAA teams, too). “Seeing my name next to those iconic league logos is so awesome. It’s a busy year,” he said.

“I’m about to head to Europe for about a month of solo shows there and even playing a country festival in South Africa this fall for the first time.” He’ll be busy at the start of MLB’s 2024 season and just a bit removed from the action on the field…but not entirely. “In between those country shows it will be all Hootie & the Blowfish,” he enthused. “It’s been five years since we last went out on tour, and we’re excited to get back out there to some of our favorite venues…including Fenway Park.”

Baseball and music. Darius Rucker is happy.