Baseball at Sulphur Dell
Long before First Tennessee Park, there stood a ballpark called Sulphur Dell.
Bordered by Fourth Ave., Fifth Ave., Jackson St., and a railroad spur, the park originally known as "Sulphur Springs Bottom" was the name given to Nashville's recreational area after the city became Tennessee's capitol because of a natural sulphur spring was nearby. Residents would fill empty containers with the odorous liquid to use for medicinal purposes, or just take a drink right from the spring.
During the Civil War it was where Union soldiers first taught Nashville citizens how to play the "northern game" of baseball. In 1870 the area was referred to as Athletic Park, and in 1885 it became the home of Nashville's first professional baseball team, the Americans, in the newly-formed Southern League. It was not until 1908 when the venue was donned "Sulphur Dell" by Nashville news reporter Grantland Rice.
Sulphur Dell was a low-lying field which gave an unusual contour to the outfield dimensions, where the right field fence was only 262 feet from home plate and the bottom of the fence was 22 1/2 feet above the playing field. The park had these unusual outfield dimensions (Left Field: 334' Center Field: 421' Right Field: 262') due to the shape of the city block in which the ballpark was located.
The distance from the grandstands to first base was only 42 feet, and to third base was 26 feet. But that was not all: the playing surface (like First Tennessee Park) was situated below street level. There was an embankment around the entire outfield that was part of the playing field.
In its 100-year existence, Nashville's professional baseball teams called Sulphur Dell "home": the Americans, Seraphs, Tigers, Vols, and Negro League Elite Giants all played at the famous ballpark. The Nashville Vols played their final game at Sulphur Dell on September 8, 1963 as a member of the South Atlantic League after 61 years in the Southern Association from 1901 through 1961.
Sulphur Dell was demolished in 1969, but its memory lives on today through several homages at First Tennessee Park. See the replica Sulphur Dell marquee behind the batter's eye; the home plate marker on the first-base concourse; and signage throughout First Tennessee Park.
Paraphrased from the About page of Skip Nipper's Official Website of Sulphur Dell