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1991-92 Music City Jammers

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Music City JammersGlobal Basketball Association (1991-1992)

Born: 1991 – GBA founding franchise
Moved: 1992 (Jackson Jammers)

Arena: Nashville Municipal Auditorium

Team Colors:

Owner: Larry Schmittou, et al.

GBA Champions: 1992

 

The Music City Jammers were a Nashville-based minor league basketball outfit that lasted for just one season in the early 1990’s. The club was part of the Global Basketball Association, an all-but-forgotten loop with teams in the Southeast and Midwest. The managing partner of the Jammers was Larry Schmittou, long-time owner of Nashville’s popular Nashville Sounds minor league baseball club.

Schmittou wasn’t able to translate his magic touch from the baseball diamond to Nashville’s leaky Municipal Auditorium. A January 1992 profile of the Jammers in The Tennessean reported that the Jammers averaged fewer than 400 paid tickets per game through the team’s first 11 home dates.

On the court, the Jammers were mediocre. The team finished the regular season in 4th place in their division and barely earned the GBA’s eighth and final playoff spot. In fact, Music City’s record of 24-40 was second worst in the league. But the Jammers got hot at the right time. They eliminated the Huntsville Lasers in the first round and dispatched the Mid-Michigan Great Lakers in the semis. To cap it off, the Jammers knocked off the Greensboro City Gaters in the finals to claim the Global Basketball Association’s first (and only) championship.

Low attendance in Nashville forced Larry Schmittou to move the Jammers to Jackson, Tennessee.  The re-named Jackson Jammers returned to defend their title in November of 1992. But the Global Basketball Association came apart one month into its second season and folded on December 19, 1992.

Links

Global Basketball Association Pocket Schedules

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Written by Drew Crossley

May 29th, 2017 at 11:02 pm

1993-1994 Nashville Xpress

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Nashville Xpress ProgramSouthern League (1993-1994)

Born: January 30, 1993 – The Charlotte Knights relocate to Nashville, TN.
Moved: Postseason 1994 (Port City Roosters)

Stadium: Herschel Greer Stadium

Team Colors:

Owner:

 

A complicated game of franchise musical chairs sparked by Major League Baseball’s 1993 expansion sparked the formation of the Nashville Xpress and the odd arrangement that saw long-time Nashville baseball impresario Larry Schmittou operating two separate franchises at Herschel Greer Stadium in 1993 and 1994.

With the addition of the Colorado Rockies and Florida Marlins to MLB in 1993, room was created for two additional Class AAA franchises in the minor league baseball ecosystem.  George Shinn, owner of the NBA’s Hornets and the Class AA Charlotte Knights of the Southern League, received one of the expansion berths.  His Knights would move up to the AAA International League in 1993.  Shinn negotiated a sale of his Southern League franchise to New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson, who planned to move the ball club to the Big Easy.  But John Dikeou, the owner of the triple-A Denver Zephyrs club that was about to be displaced by the Major League Rockies in Colorado, also had his sights set on New Orleans. The Zephyrs won the right to move to Louisiana by virtue of playing at a higher classification and Shinn’s sale to Benson fell apart.

With the former Charlotte Knights franchise homeless, the Southern League faced an unwieldy line-up of nine clubs with just over two months to go before the start of the 1993 season.  The unbalanced schedule would leave one club idle each night. Every Southern League owner faced an economically devastating loss of 16 home dates. One of those imperiled owners was Huntsville Stars boss Larry Schmittou.  Schmittou also owned the popular Nashville Sounds triple-A franchise in the American Association.  Schmittou offered to operate the former Knights franchise in Nashville, squeezing in 70 Southern League home games while his AAA Sounds club was on the road.  League owners accepted the proposal on January 30th, 1993. The franchise would now be known as the Nashville Xpress and continue to serve as a farm club of the Minnesota Twins as it had in Charlotte.

The 1993 Xpress were a pretty strong club.  The team won the first half in Southern League’s Western Division with a 40-31 record.  They would finish the season 72-70 and lose to the Birmingham Barons in the first round of the playoffs.  Key players included pitchers Brad Radke, who would go on to win 20 games for the Minnesota Twins in 1997, and outfielder Marty Cordova who would named American League Rookie-of-the-Year two summers later in Minnesota.  Oscar Gomez (11-4, 3.08 ERA) earned Southern League Pitcher-of-the-Year honors, but would pitch just 10 games in the Majors.

In 1994, the Xpress were competitive once again. The club finished 74-66 under field manager Phil Roof.  Brad Radke returned and won 12 games to lead the pitching staff.  NBA superstar Michael Jordan visited Herschel Greer Stadium several times during the summer of 1994 as a member of the Birmingham Barons during his failed bid to establish a pro baseball career.  Off the field, the Xpress drew 135,048 fans which was the lowest figure in the Southern League in 1994. It was clear that the team’s co-tenancy with the Sounds at Herschel Greer was coming to an end.

In October 1993, Shinn sold the Xpress to baseball lifer Dennis Bastien.  Bastien was one of the last remaining “mom-and-pop” operators in minor league baseball – a man whose primary source of income was operating clubs. It was clear that the novel two-team arrangement in Nashville was coming to an end.  Bastien’s expressed goal was to move the franchise to Lexington, Kentucky in 1995.  When Lexington’s ballpark project dragged, Bastien set his sights on San Juan, Puerto Rico. Then it was Springfield, Missouri.

Ultimately, the Puerto Rico scheme fell through and Bastien moved the franchise to Wilmington, North Carolina in 1995 where it became the Port City Roosters.  Wilmington was yet another temporary solution.  The city did not have a suitable Class AA facility and the move was intended to be temporary until Springfield, Missouri’s ballpark was ready.  The Springfield deal later collapsed and the former Knights/Xpress/Roosters franchise move to Mobile, Alabama in 1997 where it plays on today as the Mobile BayBears.

 

==Links==

Southern League Media Guides

Southern League Programs

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Written by AC

August 22nd, 2015 at 1:05 pm

1998 Nashville Noise

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American Basketball League (1998)

Born: April 9, 1998 – ABL expansion franchise.
Died: December 22, 1998 – The ABL ceases operations in midseason.

Arena: Nashville Municipal Auditorium (8,548)

Team Colors: Orange, Purple & Yellow

Owner: American Basketball League

 

Thanks to reader @TimHanlon for sending in this rare media guide from the doomed Nashville Noise of the women’s American Basketball League (1996-1998).

The Noise were an expansion club for the ABL’s third and final season in the fall/winter of 1998-99.  Two clubs were added to the league, with the Chicago Condors being the other new entry.  The timing of the expansion was rather curious, as the single-entity ABL was in serious financial distress and was simultaneously contracting clubs in Atlanta and Long Beach and imposing salary cuts across the league.  Former Chicago Condors GM Denise Hodges later told Lena Williams of The New York Times that league CEO Gary Cavalli called her on the day of the press conference to introduce the Condors to Chicago to tell her the league was out of business, only to call back moments later and say everything was fine and to proceed with the event.

The Noise signed a couple of players of local repute, including former University of Tennessee All-American point guard Michelle Marciniak and 1996 U.S. Olympic gold medalist Venus Lacy, a 6′ 4″ center originally from Chattanooga.

The Noise debuted on November 6th, 1998 with a 84-67 loss on the road at Chicago.  The team flew back to Tennessee for their home debut the following evening against the league’s two-time defending champions, the Columbus Quest.  An announced crowd of 5,052 showed up at Nashville Municipal Auditorium to check out the Noise.  The team dropped its second straight, 84-76.

The Noise started the season notably weak, losing their first seven games.  Attendance was grim.  Five of the next six home games drew less than 2,100 fans to the Municipal Auditorium.  The team began to rally on the court in late November, but by this point the ABL itself was in its death throes.  Starved for national sponsorship dollars and without a significant television deal, the league abruptly terminated its season on December 22, 1998 and declared bankruptcy shortly thereafter.

The Noise played their final game, an 80-73 home victory against the Seattle Reign on December 20, 1998.  The club’s final record was 4-11 at the time of the shutdown.

 

==Downloads==

1998 Nashville Noise Schedule & Results

 

==Links==

American Basketball League Media Guides

American Basketball League Programs

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1982 Nashville Diamonds

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American Soccer League (1982)

Born: 1982 – ASL expansion franchise>
Died: 1982 – The Diamonds cease operations.

Stadium: Hale Stadium

Team Colors:

Owner:

 

The Nashville Diamonds were a woeful and all but forgotten entry in the minor league American Soccer League during the summer of 1982.  Material for this team is practically non-existent, so I was thrilled to find this more-or-less pristine team pennant in a recent auction.  The black-on-silver font cracks me up.  This doesn’t say “soccer” to me.  Or “Nashville” for that matter.  More like an iron-on patch design for a D-list 80’s metal band like Autograph or Accept.  Or Talas.  Or Wyld Stallyns from Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure.

But anyway.  The Diamonds were atrocious.  The club won only 3 of their 28 games (3-21-4).  One of those wins came early in the season at home against a disbelieving Carolina Lightnin’ squad, defending champs of the ASL.

The Diamonds were “the worst team in the league”, Lightnin’ Head Coach Rodney Marsh told The Rock Hill (NC) Herald.  

Lightnin’ captain and assistant coach David Power elaborated in the same article.  “They’re probably the worst team I’ve ever played in my life – and that’s saying something.”

Fans stayed away from Hale Stadium on the campus of Tennessee State University in droves and the team quickly ran into financial problems.  By July 1982, team officials stated that the club might not finish the season unless 15,000 fans turned out a Friday/Sunday homestand.  700 showed up.  Diamonds Head Coach Hector Guevara told The Associated Press a few days later that the entire team voluntarily took 25% to 35% pay cuts to help the team finish out the schedule.

After the 1982 ASL season ended in September, the Diamonds quietly faded into oblivion.  The ASL itself followed a year later, folding in early 1984 after a half century of operation.

 

==Links==

American Soccer League Media Guides

American Soccer League Programs

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Written by AC

July 30th, 2012 at 1:43 am

1991 Nashville Stars

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World Basketball League (1991)

Born: 1991 – The Las Vegas Silver Streaks relocate to Nashville.
Died: Postseason 1991 – The Stars cease operations.

Arena: Nashville Municipal Auditorium (8,600)

Team Colors: Blue & Gold

Owners: Ronnie Steine et al.

 

“Some purists wanted to raise the baskets.  These guys have shrunk the players.” – The late Jim Murray of The Los Angeles Times, writing on the World Basketball League in 1989.

The Nashville Stars were a blink-and-you-missed ’em entry in the quirky World Basketball League, a far flung minor league loop designed for players under 6′ 5″ tall.  In the WBL, everyone was “short”, fast-paced guard play dominated, nobody posted up and zone defense was legal – when anyone bothered to play defense.  Eventually, the WBL collapsed in financial scandal in the middle of its fifth season, but by then the Nashville Stars had come and gone.

The Stars franchise began life as the Las Vegas Silver Streaks, playing in Sin City for the league’s first three summers from 1988 to 1990.  WBL franchises were typically owned 40% by local investors – when they could be found – and 60% by the league itself, which meant they were backed by the full faith and credit and one Michael I. “Mickey” Monus, the league’s founder, sugar daddy, and President of the Phar-Mor drugstore chain.  In Nashville, the WBL recruited an 11-man minority ownership group led by travel agency owner Ronnie Steine.

The Stars’ 10-man roster, featuring six former Silver Streaks, came together hastily in the spring of 1991.  At 6′ 4″ and 215 pounds, forward Jamie Waller was one of the elite “big men” in the WBL.  Waller led the circuit in scoring in each of the league’s first three seasons.  Daren Queenan was, at the time, one of only seven players in NCAA history with over 2,700 points and 1,000 rebounds, alongside Elvin Hayes, Oscar Robertson, Larry Bird, Danny Manning, Hank Gathers and Lionel Simmons.  But he went undrafted by the NBA due to his diminutive size (6′ 3″) and small school (Lehigh).  The WBL was made to showcase players like Queenan, who averaged 22.9 points per games with the Silver Streaks in 1990.

The team practiced together for only two weeks before debuting at Nashville’s Municipal Auditorium against the Memphis Rockers on May 3rd, 1991.  Although a consistent winner in Las Vegas, the Stars finished the 1991 campaign at 23-28 and out of the playoffs.  Waller led the league in scoring for the fourth straight year, but did so as a member of the Erie (PA) Wave after the Stars shipped out their best player in a mid-season trade.  Queenan earned a spot of the WBL All-League team, despite the club’s poor record.

Long-time Tennessee sports promoter Rudi Schiffer served as the Stars part-time General Manager.  Schiffer worked on the launch of the North American Soccer League’s Memphis Rogues in the late 1970’s and the popular Memphis Showboats of the United States Football League, who drew crowds of 35,000 to the Liberty Bowl in the mid-1980’s.  In a wide-ranging look back at his career with Fun While It Lasted in 2011, Schiffer acknowledged that the Stars were a half-hearted effort off the court:

“That was the league of 6′ 5” guys.  I had a PR firm in Memphis back then.  <Former Memphis Showboats President> Steve Ehrhart was the Commissioner of the WBL.   Steve knew me from the Showboats and hired me when they moved the team from Las Vegas.  Me and my son Michael went up to Nashville to run the Stars.  Not full time.  I’d go up three times a week and then come back and run my own business.  It was just an account I had.  Everything was done on a shoestring.

“It was hand-to-mouth.  We didn’t draw 200 people a game.  Nobody cared about 6′ 5″ players in Nashville.”

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The Stars folded quietly in late 1991 after one season of play.  The entire WBL followed less than a year later, folding in midseason in August 1992.  The league’s undoing came when investigators revealed that Mickey Monus embezzled $10 million from Phar-Mor to underwrite the league’s financial losses (i.e. the 60% of each franchise owned by the money-losing league itself).  Phar-Mor was ultimately forced into bankruptcy, costing 17,000 employees their jobs.  It was the Enron scandal of its era and caused the league to unravel within a matter of weeks.

Jamie Waller and Daren Queenan never made it to the NBA, but their Silver Streaks and Stars teammate Cedric Hunter did earn the briefest of call-ups with the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets.  Hunter played a single minute for the Hornets on February 16th, 1992.  It turned out to be the only game – and only minute – he played in the NBA.

Former Stars President and co-owner Ronnie Steine is now a City Councilman in Nashville.

 

 

==Downloads==

2012 interview with former WBL Director of Public Relations Jimmy Oldham

 

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Written by AC

February 14th, 2012 at 2:57 pm

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