Nashville attorney Jack Norman retired from practicing law in 1981 but often wrote articles in both the Nashville Tennessean and Nashville Banner about memories of his hometown. Born in Nashville in 1904, his “The Passing of the Nashville I Knew” appeared on a regular basis in the Banner and led to the publication of “The Nashville I Knew” (Norman, Sr., Jack. Nashville: Rutledge Hill Press, 1984).
Fred Russell wrote in the Foreword, “Jack Norman looked back over the years, his zest for life undiminished and reasoned that Nashville was just about the best place on earth, with some of the most vibrating chords of remembrance.”
Each chapter of Norman’s book is written in snapshots of Nashville life that few would remember today; Nashville citizens with an attachment to his descriptions are long-gone. His recollections follow one-after-another, as if each step he ever took had a memory attached to it, and he relates each one in rapid-fire recall.
On page 25 and continuing through page 27 in a section with the heading, “Old Sulphur Dell”, our friend Jack reminisces as if the old ballpark still existed at the time of his writing.
The pass-gate, right field dump, batboy Mickey Kreitner are all there. Sports writers “Blinkey” Horn and Ralph McGill, managers Roy Ellam, Jimmy Hamilton, and Larry Gilbert, and club owner Fay Murray are all there, too, as is an entry about a man walking with two jugs of sulphur water from Morgan Park.
The most telling description of Sulphur Dell goes like this:
“What a great part the old park had played in the entertainment and pleasure of Nashville. How it had helped to relieve the strains and pressures of a young city.
“How its benefits were available to even those with small incomes. How clean and wholesome were its contributions. How satisfied we were with such simple things.
“As the deer and buffalo had gone there for the pleasure of sulphur and salt, Nashville had gone there for the pleasure and relaxation of our national pastime.”
How painful it must have been for him in 1963 as chairman of the board of directors of Vols, Inc., the corporation which owned the Nashville Vols and Sulphur Dell, he suggested the ball club’s franchise be relinquished to the South Atlantic League. The resurrected team failed to draw enough fans to support the Vols.
According to Nashville Tennessean sports writer F. M. Williams, Norman blamed the failure on a variety of things.
“…an upsurge and increase of interest in fan participation sports such as boating, fishing, bowling and golf; the increased interest in football and basketball; the availability of various other modern types of entertainment; the opportunity to see major league baseball by television in the comforts of the home; and lastly the attitude of major league baseball toward minor league baseball.”
Norman added one final lament to his thoughts.
“I am positive that no further effort, civic or otherwise, will bring it back.”
 F. M. Williams, “End Baseball, Sell Dell, Norman Says,” Nashville Tennessean, August 31, 1963, 11.
© 2019 by Skip Nipper. All Rights Reserved.