Vanderbilt To Face East Carolina In The NCAA Baseball Super Regionals

Kumar Rocker. Photo: Courtesy of Vanderbilt Athletics

The Vanderbilt Commodores are set to face East Carolina in Game one of the NCAA Super Regionals in Nashville on Friday. It is a best of three series with the winner advancing to the 2021 NCAA College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska.

Vandy clinched their berth after sweeping through their regional field at home with a perfect 3-0 record this past weekend. The Commodores took out Presbyterian in their first game with a 10-0 victory. They then faced Georgia Tech twice beating them 4-3 in the first game and again in an 11 inning 14-11 game.

Vanderbilt is making its fourth consecutive appearance in the NCAA Super Regionals, while hosting for the third consecutive postseason. This matchup between the Commodores and the Pirates will prove to be a challenge as East Carolina has shown to be one of the best teams in the country, ranked No. 11 nationally.

However, Vanderbilt pitching phenom Jack Leiter will be hard to beat, especially after his stellar performance against Georgia Tech. Leiter threw six innings earning only one run on three hits while striking out 11 batters. The Commodores veteran starter Kumar Rocker threw seven innings in the teams shutout win against Presbyterian, giving up only two hits and two walks while striking out nine.

The two teams will open the best-of-three set on Friday morning at 11 a.m. CST airing live on ESPN2. Game 2 of the weekend is scheduled for another 11 a.m. first pitch on Saturday, also on ESPN2. Sunday’s if-necessary matchup is set for 2 p.m. CST.

Texas Rangers Announce Class Of 2021 For Charley Pride Fellowship Program

Charley Pride. Photo: Ben De Rienzo

The Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation has announced the inaugural class for the Charley Pride Fellowship Program, offering rising college students a ten-week internship opportunity with the team’s front office.

The new Fellowship Program honors the late country music legend, who had a strong connection to the Texas Rangers organization for more than 50 years. The details of the program were in the process of being finalized when Pride passed away in December of 2020 at the age of 86. The creation of the program was announced on March 18, 2021 on what would have been Pride’s 87th birthday.

The Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation and the Parrish Charitable Foundation of prominent Dallas businessman Roland Parrish are partnering on the Charley Pride Fellowship Program. The initiative was also created with input from Pride’s family, including his wife Rozene Pride.

The Charley Pride Fellowship Program was established to help create a launching pad for students from diverse backgrounds looking to gain baseball front office experience. The program is designed for the students to gain valuable cross-disciplinary skills that will benefit them should they choose to pursue a career in professional baseball or any other industry.

The inaugural Charley Pride Fellowship Program Class of 2021:

Charley Pride Fellow: Hometown; Year; School

Kendall Coleman: Rockwall, TX; Junior; University of North Carolina

Ashley Go: Vienna, VA; Senior; American University

Cornysia Island: Lancaster, TX; Junior; Fisk University

Neemekh Mudvari: Puebla, Mexico; Senior; University of Texas at Arlington

Jordan Thomas: New Orleans, LA; Grad Student; Temple University

The Foundation will train and support the five Fellows as they transition through a ten-week rotation within different Texas Rangers Baseball Club departments. Each Fellow will do a three-department rotation based on their interests while working approximately 20 hours per week.

Those departments available for these fellows to work include, IT Operations & Applications, Sports & Entertainment, Baseball Operations, Partnerships & Client Services, Communications, Marketing, Ballpark Entertainment, Promotions & Production, Ticket Sales & Service, and Business Analytics & Ticket Strategy.

Nashville And Knoxville To Host NCAA Baseball Regionals

Jack Leiter. Photo: Courtesy of Vanderbilt Athletics

After a contentious SEC Baseball Tournament last week, the cards are now set for the NCAA Baseball Regionals, and both Vanderbilt and the University of Tennessee will be hosting games.

The Commodores, the No. 4 seed, will host a regional at Hawkins Field for the eighth time in program history. Vandy finished the season with a 40-15 overall record. They are making their SEC-best 15th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance and hosting a regional for the sixth time in the last eight seasons.

The ‘Dores will host Georgia Tech, Indiana State and Presbyterian College in the NCAA Regionals.

Dates and times for Nashville regional at Hawkins Field from Vanderbilt Athletics:


A small number of outfield tickets remain available for regionals. Outfield all-session tickets are $70 and individual game tickets are $10.

Tickets are on sale now and may be purchased online or by calling the Vanderbilt Athletics ticket office at 615-322-4653 during business hours.

Tennessee is coming off one of their best seasons in 20 years, being named the No. 3 seed and hosting a regional for the first time since 2005. The Volunteers finished their year with an overall record of 45-16 and a home record of 26-9.

The Vols will face Duke, Wright State and Liberty at Lindsey Nelson Stadium in the Knoxville Regionals.

Dates and times for the matches:

Friday, June 4
Game 1: Duke vs. Liberty | 12 p.m. | ACC Network
Game 2: Tennessee vs. Wright State | 6 p.m. | ESPN3/WatchESPN

Saturday, June 5
Game 3: G1 Loser vs. G2 Loser | 12 p.m.
Game 4: G1 Winner vs. G2 Winner | 6 p.m.

Sunday, June 6
Game 5: G3 Winner vs. G4 Loser | 2 p.m.
Game 6: G4 Winner vs. G5 Winner | 6 p.m.

Monday, June 7 (If Necessary)
Game 7: G6 Winner vs. G6 Loser | 1 p.m.

Tickets for this weekend’s Knoxville Regional are on sale now. Vice Chancellor/Director of Athletics Danny White and Tennessee Athletics has announced that 300 students will receive free admission to the 2021 postseason games hosted in Lindsey Nelson Stadium while supplies last.

Vanderbilt Baseball Start SEC Tournament Against Ole Miss

The Vanderbilt baseball team will try to defend its 2019 SEC Championship tonight when it takes on Ole Miss in Hoover, Alabama at 8 p.m. CST in the SEC Baseball Tournament.

The Commodores have had a great season so far putting together a record of 39-13 overall and a conference record of 19-10. The are currently ranked No. 3 nationally behind SEC rival Arkansas at No. 1 and ahead of cross-state rival and SEC East champ Tennessee (No. 4).

The defending national champions also picked up some major SEC awards early this week. Sophomore and pitching sensation Jack Leiter, son of former Mets and Yankees pitcher Al Leiter, has won SEC Newcomer of the Year, being fifth in ERA with a mark of 2.12, while owning a record of 8-2 on the campaign.

Leiter along with junior Kumar Rocker and freshman Enrique Bradfield Jr. were named to the All-SEC First team. Rocker and Leiter finished first and second, respectively, in strikeouts with a combined, 256 K’s.

Bradfield also took home the SEC Freshman of the Year award and was the only Commodore named to the SEC All-Defense Team. Bradfield is the first Vandy player to win since Tony Kemp in 2011. He ranks among the top three in the SEC across four offensive categories, including: first in stolen bases (42), second in on-base percentage (.478), fourth in batting average (.366), and ninth in runs scored (48).

Vandy enters the conference tournament as the fourth seed taking on Ole Miss, the fifth seed. The tournament is double elimination but, last time around, Vandy won four-straight to clinch the conference title. Ole Miss beat Auburn 7-4 in their first game of the SEC Tournament on Tuesday night led by one inside-the-park from Justin Bench and one outside-the-park from Hayden Dunhurst. Freshman shortstop Jacob Gonzalez, went 4-for-5 at the plate with one double as part of his second career four-hit performance.

The first pitch is set for 8 p.m. CST with freshman Christian Little taking the mound for the Commodores. The full lineups for both teams will be announced later this evening.

Nashville Sounds Announce Return Of ‘Hometown Hero’ Program

The Nashville Sounds will honor veterans and first responders at home games with its “Hometown Hero” program presented by Middle Tennessee State University – Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center.

The Sounds will honor veterans, active members of the armed forces, paramedics, emergency medical technicians, police officers and firefighters during select home games throughout the 2021 season. Selected heroes will receive complimentary tickets to a Sounds game and be recognized on the iconic guitar scoreboard during a special in-between inning feature.

The Daniels Center’s mission is to provide transition services for Veterans and their families as they return to civilian life after military service. The Daniels Center is the largest and most comprehensive veterans center on any Tennessee higher education campus, and enables the over 1000 military-connected student population on campus to have a one-stop shop to meet a variety of academic needs.

Fans and members of the community can nominate local service members on the Sounds website. All nominees must be, or have been, a member of the United States Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, or a paramedic, emergency medical technician, police officer or firefighter.

Opinion: Is Nashville Ready For Major League Baseball?

Since the announcement that the Oakland Athletics will consider moving to another city, Nashville’s name has been thrown back into the baseball discussion.

If the A’s would move, can Nashville be a viable option? Can the city afford another major league sports team? How would this affect the residents?

These are all important questions regardless if the A’s leave Oakland since Music City Baseball LLC has been building momentum to bring MLB to Nashville for a number of years now. The MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has also listed Nashville as one of four potential expansion cities if the league decided to expand with other cities including Portland, Las Vegas and Charlotte.

All of that creates one big question that needs to be asked: Is Nashville MLB ready now?

Over the past 10 years, Nashville has exploded both economically and in population becoming the hottest city in the country and, with that, has also become much more notable. The Nashville sports scene has also seen many benefits from this. For instance, Nashville has hosted NCAA Tournament games as well as the SEC Basketball Tournament for quite a number of years; the Titans and Nissan Stadium continue to stand firm and engulf the city during football season; and the 2018 NFL Draft hosted in Nashville was the biggest draft ever both in attendance and in TV ratings.

Additionally, the Predators have made the playoffs for seven consecutive seasons, went to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2017, won the President’s Trophy in 2018, and hosted the 2016 NHL All-Star Game with Bridgestone Arena becoming one of the most difficult arenas for opposing teams to play in and continuing to win awards for its excellence.

The new kid in town, the Nashville Soccer Club (NSC), is growing its fanbase and reach rapidly while having their brand new arena opening up at the Fairgrounds at the beginning of 2022. Nashville has also seen racing come back in 2021 with NASCAR driving at the Nashville Superspeedway in Lebanon and IndyCar building a street-course around downtown in August. To top it off, we cannot forget the minor league team, the Nashville Sounds, who opened First Horizon Park in 2015 and have seen some major events and fantastic attendance.

First Tennessee Park. Photo: Courtesy of Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp

Nashvillians have proved to love sports and the city has become one of the most exciting sports cities in America. In regards to fan reception, financial viability, and commitment from the city, Nashville is absolutely ready for this next step of a major league baseball team. However, it’s not that simple.

Where will the stadium be? How much will it cost? Who’s going to pay for it?

Nashville’s downtown is already jam-packed between the legendary honkytonks, new bougie bars, Nissan Stadium, Bridgestone, and a brand new $1.2 billion facility soon to be built by Oracle across the Cumberland River.

Would they put another stadium by the fairgrounds next to the racetrack and NSC’s new stadium?

Music City Baseball LLC (MCB LLC), which is being led by businessman John Loar and former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez, has been pushing for MLB to come to Nashville and has been planning what a stadium might look like and where it might be. Currently the plan is to place the stadium across the river directly next to Nissan Stadium, a design seen in most sporting cities.

Rendering of possible MLB stadium in Downtown Nashville. Courtesy of Music City Baseball LLC.

The now named Nashville Stars is being promoted as the next baseball team in Nashville and has some heavy hitters behind the movement, such as Titans legend Eddie George, pop music superstar and Tennessee native Justin Timberlake, and Baseball Hall of Famer Tony LaRussa. Their plan is to be an ‘expansion team’ or be the place that can offer an MLB team a new home, like the A’s or the Tampa Bay Rays who have also been in the discussion of possible relocation. Once again, though, how likely is this to happen and what kind of costs are we realistically looking at?

In an interview with Sportico’s podcast, MLB commissioner Manfred explained that when the league expands there will most likely be an expansion fee of at least $2.2 billion. However, in the article Sportico valuation reporters Peter Schwartz and Kurt Badenhausen thought that price point was high and that the average MLB franchise price was closer to the tune of $1.58 billion.

In a league like the MLB where you have franchises like the Yankees and the Dodgers, their net worth can make the median franchise price very lopsided. Nashville, with only two major sports teams, is currently listed as the 28th biggest sports market, according to Nielsen DMA Rankings. For reference, the Atlanta Braves, whose home city ranks 10th in sports market, is worth somewhere around $1.875 billion. The Predators, Nashville’s most successful franchise in recent years, is only worth $435 million while the Titans who have seen ups and downs over the past 10 years is worth around $2.3 billion.

If $2.2 billion is the asking price for expansion, Nashville would be overpaying significantly. As of September of 2020, MCB LLC has raised as much as $3 million, so unless a George Steinbrenner comes along with billions of dollars, the city would need to throw its own money into the mix which means more Davidson County tax dollars.

Last year, Mayor John Cooper and NSC were at a stalemate as the city did not want to take on the debt from the cost of a soccer stadium and the infrastructure that comes with it. After some time and some discussion, they came to an agreement that team owner John Ingram would take on the $250 million they received in public financing. Cooper has already shown his stance on public funds paying for a sports team and its arena, so would it be different if it were baseball?

Only time will tell as things begin to get more serious regarding a Nashville major league baseball team. As for now, it’s all up in the air, but the continued growth of the city, the sports teams, and the long-term financial success of the Nashville Sounds will make Music City an even more desirable location for America’s favorite pastime.

First Horizon Park To Host Celebrity Softball Game

The Nashville Sounds and Folds of Honor will host the Rock-N-Jock Celebrity Softball Game at First Horizon Park on Thursday, June 3.

The event, presented by Budweiser and Bradshaw Bourbon, will feature both star athletes and country singers. Tennessee Titans players, including A.J. Brown and Taylor Lewan will also participate as well as Hall of Fame quarterback Terry Bradshaw. Additionally, country singers Riley Green, Luke Pell, Russell Dickerson, Walker Hayes, Chris Lane and Lacy Cavalier will be participating in the charity event.

“We’re excited to welcome Folds of Honor to First Horizon Park along with many of Nashville’s biggest stars,” says Sounds Co-Owner Frank Ward. “The Rock-N-Jock Celebrity Softball Game is a fun and unique way to showcase our great ballpark.”

Additional participants include former Titans linebacker Will Compton, Cy Young Award Winner and former Sound Barry Zito and comedian Jeff Dye. Other celebrities will be announced in the coming weeks.

Fans can purchase tickets now for $25 or $35 where all net profits will go directly to Folds of Honor.

Michelle Ivey Frazier Joins Music City Baseball

Michelle Ivey Frazier has joined Music City Baseball LLC as Director of Operations and Leader of their Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion program.

In this position, Frazier will work to ensure Music City Baseball is an inclusive organization in all aspects of their business efforts while also managing the company’s human resources, budgeting, financing, and facility management.

“I am excited to share my operational management and leadership talents with Music City Baseball,” says Frazier. “The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee (DEIC) serves to directly promote and support our inclusive policies. I see my role here as a champion of this mission and a resource to help ensure that our goal of equity and inclusiveness is clearly evidenced in our daily operations.”

Frazier previously served as the Chief Operating Officer for Rivergate Dental. She formerly held roles with companies including, Genesco, Viacom Cable, InterMedia, Gaylord, Country Music Television International and also has a consulting and real estate business. Frazier has held various national, regional, and local leadership positions with organizations including Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, The Links, Incorporated, GirlFriends, Inc., Jack & Jill of America, Inc. and Carrousels, Inc.

“Michele’s leadership and experience in marketing and business made her the perfect candidate for her new role with us,” says Managing Director of Music City Baseball John Loar. “One of our group’s driving principles is to build a team and organization with a diverse core. We firmly believe that baseball can be a bridge to a better and more equitable society.”

Frazier is a graduate of University of Montevallo where she served as the University’s first African American Student Government Association President. She also has a Master of Business Administration degree from Vanderbilt University’s Owen School of Management. Frazier has received recognitions for her work including the YMCA’s Black Achiever Award and the Leader of the 21st Century Award.