Our story starts long before Nashville was illuminated by the glitz, glamour and bright neon of Broadway. Back in the 1940s, Nashville was a different place—a city rooted both in its rich tradition of music and its thriving baseball scene.
Shortly after World War II, Ted Acklen, then the owner of the Del Morocco Club in downtown Nashville, founded the Del Morocco Stars baseball team out of his love for the game; next, William “Sou” Bridgeforth sponsored a team of his own, the New Era Giants. But in 1949, a small step in Nashville’s baseball history would eventually pave the way for our mission to bring Major League Baseball to the Music City: the Del Morocco Stars and the New Era Giants combined forces. Under Bridgeforth’s guidance, the Nashville Stars were born.
In just a short span of time, the Negro League franchise left a blueprint for baseball in Nashville, one that sparked the interest of John Loar, Music City Baseball’s Managing Director. Loar wanted to learn more about the Stars. He understood that the team was an integral part of Nashville’s history. Better yet, he understood that the legacies of these players, stars in their own regard, must be upheld, honored and brought to life.
In 2018, Loar approached Skip Nipper, a Nashville baseball historian, after reading his book Baseball in Nashville. Loar wanted to learn more about the history of baseball in Tennessee. He wanted to identify a story that could be connected to a future expansion franchise. But as Nipper revealed, the Stars’ history is largely unknown.
“I was familiar with the Nashville Stars through my research,” Nipper said. “I knew the team played in 1950 and 1951, but beyond that, there was very little information about the team due to the lack of media coverage and it was likely that the club was simply a ‘barnstorming’ team.”
Over several meetings with Loar and a lunch meeting with Dale Robble, Nipper shared his knowledge of Negro League Baseball, but the idea remained vague, the brand had not yet been identified—that is, until one photo that brought the story to life.
Nipper came across a small picture in his collection. One small anecdote—a photograph on a cardboard broadside used to advertise games—would put a face to the Nashville Stars. Pictured in the photograph are four of Nashville’s heroes, the four Stars who have brought our idea to life: Frank Russell, Jim Zapp, Sidney Bunch and Wilbur Adkisson.