Vols, Inc. was formed in order to save the Nashville Vols franchise when owner Ted Murray was unable to keep the ball club solvent. A group of civic leaders led the initiative, giving the Vols and Sulphur Dell a few more years of action before it ended in 1963.
The chain of ownership changes leading up to the final days were complex yet gives a history of financial stresses for nearly sixty years.
October 1, 1926
Rogers Caldwell, J. H. “Jack” Whaley, Stanley P. Horn, and Jimmy Hamilton, purchase the Nashville Baseball Club and split 535 shares of stock. The club had generated $80,000 in profit during 1925 – there is no published profit amount of 1926, but even with attendance down to 135,000 the reported amount was still “five figures” and ownership was lucrative.
This group decided to turn Sulphur Dell around completely so batters would no longer be facing the setting sun during afternoon games. The steel and concrete structure was one of the finest in all of baseball.
March 23, 1931
Bob Allen, who has recently gained control of Vols stock by outbidding Fay Murray, instructs his son Edgar, secretary of the club, to deny use of baseballs, bats, or uniforms to unsigned players.
June 20, 1931
Fay L. Murray, part-owner of the American Association Minneapolis Millers, and Jimmy Hamilton purchase the Nashville Volunteers from Bob Allen. The purchase price is reported to be $100,000, agreeing to pay the unpaid $52,000 bond on Sulphur Dell.
November 8, 1938
Fay Murray announces that Larry Gilbert, veteran manager of the New Orleans Pelicans, is the new Nashville Vols manager and will become a part owner of the club.
March 4, 1941
Fay Murray passes away. His son Ted assumes his father’s interest in the Vols.
September 8, 1948
Larry Gilbert’s last game as manager after 1948. In 10 years, his teams have won eight league championships, including six consecutive titles with Nashville between 1939-1944. He remains vice-president and general manager.
April 16, 1951
— Red O’Donnell’s Column, Nashville Tennessean, April 16, 1951
May 23, 1953
Knoxville Mayor George Dempster says he has three or four Knoxvillians ready to put up $400,000 to purchase Nashville’s Southern Association franchise, and feels Ted Murray is ready to sell his ½, but Larry Gilbert is not.
January 14, 1955
Ted Murray, along with business partner Larry Gilbert, signs an agreement to sell to a syndicate represented by Fred C. Rule, president of F. C. Rule Construction. Gilbert places a price tag of $300,000 on the sale.
January 24, 1955
According to Nashville Tennessean sportswriter Raymond Johnson, Larry Gilbert says the franchise could still be purchased for $300,000.
May 21, 1955
Larry Gilbert sells his ½ interest for $125,000 and moved to his hometown of New Orleans.
November 1, 1958
“I simply don’t have the money to operate the club any longer.”
– Ted Murray
January 15, 1959
The franchise was sold to a group of local businesspeople, which included county musician Eddy Arnold and politician and Tennessee Secretary of State Joe C. Carr. Known as Vols, Inc., President Herschel Lynn Greer headed the group. The corporation sold $5 shares to 4,876 investors to keep the team in operation.
After three more seasons, the Southern Association folded, and there was no professional baseball in Nashville in 1962. The club was revived for one additional season in 1963 as a member of the South Atlantic League but at the end of the season, the owners shut the team down.
© 2023 by Skip Nipper. All Rights Reserved.