Jim Turner’s Nashville Venture Begins

On January 24, 1960, new general manager and field manager Jim Turner held a “Sulphur Dell breakfast” at the Noel Hotel. More than 100 fans attended the event as Turner asked questions to gauge opinions about the upcoming 1960 season.

The weather was freezing outside, and four youngsters from Gallatin caught a bus at 6 AM to make it to the meeting in downtown Nashville: Charles Bone, Johnny Parker, Bill Jones, and Al Franklin.

Among the subjects brought up by Turner was whether fans would attend Saturday games with a 2 PM game time, and only three in the audience stated they would not.

Turner had already scheduled opening day to begin at 2 PM, and the next time the Vols were due to host a Saturday game, the time would probably be 2:30 PM. He prefers all Saturday games be played in the afternoon, as he thought fans would see the caliber of play would be improved significantly as it would affect Sunday doubleheaders.

“It stands to reason that a ball player who stays at the park late on Saturday night will not have the same amount of energy as the ball player who is able to get to bed at an earlier hour and get plenty of sleep,” he told Nashville Tennessean sportswriter F. M. Williams.

Turner took questions from the crowd, too, and assured them he had already looked into improving the public address system speakers, having already thrown three away.

“It’s too expensive to replace the entire system,” he told them. “Now we are checking into the possibility of adding several speakers and re-arranging those we have so that they will cover the grandstand area to a larger degree.”

The question came up about how umpires could be encouraged to hustle.

“You can gig ’em a little, and sometimes it helps,” Turner said, adding that an umpire’s duties include far more than calling balls and strikes or ruling runners out or safe. It is their job to make the players run on and off the field to see that the game is conducted as rapidly as possible.”

Two fans complained about the organ music but admitted they liked it for the most part; they wanted the organ to be silent during a rhubarb. There was a suggestion that the Star-Spangled Banner be played without “jazz.”

In both cases, Turner promised he would do what he could.

On how he would handle pitchers, whether to leave them in until there was no hope of winning the game, Turner taught the questioner about being a pitching coach.

“There are times when you can’t afford to change a pitcher, but not when you’re at home,” he said. “Sometimes you are better off leaving a pitcher out there to take a licking in order that you can get an over-worked staff back in proper rotation. Those things should be done on the road, if at all possible.”

He added, “I’ll tell you this much – a team is just as strong as it’s pitching staff, and no stronger.”

Asked if he would be a “hustling manager,” meaning Turner would complain to the umpires about bad decisions, he responded, “That’s my job. I’ll tell you this, I don’t intend to get thrown out of every game just for the sake of arguing. If that is good managing, then you don’t need me. I think I can do more good by staying on the field than I can in the club house.”

“I’ll tell you this,” he went on. “I’ll kick when I think I have a kick, but I won’t kick to make a show. That would be okay if umpires never made mistakes, but they do make them, and it’s only human.”

Turner took responsibility for the team and players but also for the ballpark. He emphasized that 300 box seats had already been sold, that ticket sales had exceeded $25,000, and a new coat of paint would help spruce up Sulphur Dell.

Men’s and women’s restrooms, grandstand railings, concession stands, and the outside entrance of the ballpark were due for repainting.

Dick Sisler, previous Vols manager for three seasons, had moved to Seattle to manage the Raniers in the Pacific Coast League, prompting the hiring of Jim Turner, who had been the pitching coach for the New York Yankees for 11 seasons. He was hopeful for increased attendance over the 1959 total of 129,125. At the end of the 1960 season, attendance totals would stand at 99,721, and Turner would leave to become the pitching coach for the Cincinnati Reds.




Nashville Banner

Nashville Tennessean

Comments Off on Jim Turner’s Nashville Venture Begins

Filed under History, Nashville Vols, Southern Association, Sulphur Dell

Comments are closed.