Class AAA

Two vintage images out at home

The former look of the entrance to AutoZone Park in Memphis (photo by Mike Morrow)

It’s always sad to see a retirement in baseball, even if it is a player who never existed or an old guitar that wasn’t really a guitar.

The look now in Memphis (photo by Mike Morrow)

Two iconic figures in Tennessee baseball history are outta here. One was the giant old-time baseball player who splendidly graced the grand entrance at AutoZone Park in Memphis for almost 20 years. The ballpark still stands, but the old man is gone.

The other is the famous huge guitar scoreboard that stood at Greer Stadium in Nashville, a relic so popular everyone wanted to see somebody save it, and fortunately it appears someone will, although it’s unclear what exactly its purpose will be.

One of the landmarks, the baseball player image in Memphis, who has been called Nostalgia Man, won’t be returning. As the Daily Memphian‘s Geoff Caulkins reported, Nostalgia Man was held together with some sort of frame and was rusting and the thing was a threat to fall down. So they took it down, and there is apparently no plan to replace it. What a shame. Caulkins skillfully called Nostalgia Man the “biggest sports figure in Memphis for nearly two decades.” After all, he stood 37 feet tall.

The other landmark appears to have been rescued and is moving. Metro Nashville put the Greer Stadium scoreboard up for auction online. Aside from going in some rich guy’s world’s largest mancave, it has been hard to see much use for the lovable monstrosity. But according to The Tennessean, AJ Capital Partners, a real estate developer, bought the scoreboard for $54,815 and plans to use it in some way in a project development near the Greer Stadium site. That will be at 4th Avenue and Chestnut Street, a few blocks from the dilapidated stadium that is now being demolished.

The guitar scoreboard in Nashville in its heyday (photo by Mike Morrow)

When it became clear the Sounds were moving to a new site, which resulted in First Tennessee Park opening its gates in 2015, the first question in everyone’s mind was what would happen to the big guitar. The fate of the guitar seemed to be more important to people than whether there would be baseball players.

While there was an ample amount of wishful thinking, with people clinging to the belief that the old scoreboard could function forever and should simply be relocated, the new Sounds ownership did exactly what it should have done. It took the idea of the guitar to the new park, but built a new one. It was a smart move, and the Sounds still have an iconic scoreboard, only a better one.

To be sure, there were outfielders at the old park who would talk about hearing the sizzle and pop of lights on the fritz and who knows what other electrical chaos going on inside the big lug. A rendering from the developer published in The Tennessean appears to place it near a railroad track facing some greenspace among big buildings, maybe ready for some wiffle ball duty.

While Nashville appears to have moved on with a workable solution, including a still unique new scoreboard, with the city skyline as a backdrop, it’s difficult to understand why the big guy in Memphis can’t simply be replaced. He looked too good to be retired so quietly. And he can’t possibly weigh as much as the gigantic music instrument. Guess he’s one of those players who simply can’t be replaced. But somebody ought to try.

Headed for a new home (photo by Mike Morrow)

Categories: Class AAA

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