Southern League (1985-2014)
Born: August 1984 – The Nashville Sounds relocate to Huntsville, AL.
Move Announced: January 10, 2014 (Biloxi Shuckers)
Final Home Game: September 1, 2014
Stadium: Joe W. Davis Stadium (10,488)
- 1985-1994: Larry Schmittou
- 1994-2001: Don Mincher, Donn Jennings, et al.
- 2001-2013: Miles Prentice, et al.
- 2014: Ken Young, et al.
Southern League Champions: 1985, 1994, 2001
In the summer of 1984 Larry Schmittou, owner of the Class AA Nashville Sounds of the Southern League, purchased the Class AAA Evansville Triplets franchise and shifted it to Tennessee. The move effectively promoted Schmittou’s Nashville club to triple-A status, but left his original Southern League franchise homeless. The problem was solved when the city of Huntsville, Alabama agreed to construct 11,000-seat Joe W. Davis Stadium in time for the 1985 season.
Schmittou’s re-christened Huntsville Stars club inked a player development contract with the Oakland Athletics in September 1984. Huntsville became a way station for the outstanding prospects that would later power Oakland’s World Series squads of the late 1980’s. Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire and Terry Steinbach all spent time in Huntsville on their way to Oakland. Canseco hit a grand slam in Huntsville’s first home game at Joe W. Davis Stadium on April 19, 1985. Canseco would go to win Southern League MVP honors in 1985 and Steinbach would win in 1986.
Huntsville won two Southern League crowns during the A’s era. Oakland also brought their Major League team to Alabama for exhibitions seven times during the 14-year relationship. The affiliation came to an end in 1998 and the Milwaukee Brewers became the Stars’ parent club the following season. The Brewers partnership would endure for the rest of the Stars’ stay in Huntsville.
The Stars won their third and final Southern League championship during the 2001 season. The Stars were about to open a playoff championship series against the Jacksonville Suns when the September 11th terrorist attacks occurred. The playoffs were cancelled and the Stars and Suns declared co-champions.
The Stars sold for the second time in October 2001. A group headed by New York attorney Miles Prentice paid a reported $6 million for the franchise, with a commitment to keep the team in Huntsville. But by the mid-2000’s Joe W. Davis Stadium was badly outdated. The facility lacked modern skyboxes and concessions areas were located outside view of the field. Prentice’s group sold out to veteran minor league operator Ken Young in January 2014.. After a final lame duck season in Huntsville in 2014, the former Stars franchise moved to a new ballpark in Biloxi, Mississippi in 2015. The team is now known as the Biloxi Shuckers.