Top 10 Memphis RedBirds Facts You Didn’t Know

By: Sports Teller


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Top 10 Memphis RedBirds Facts You Didn’t Know

The Memphis RedBirds are one of Triple-A Baseball’s exciting teams every sports fan needs to learn about. In fact, they are a Minor League farm club for the St. Louis Cardinals. Any Memphis fan that bleeds Cardinal Red will know every information possible, from the team winning a National Championship in 2018 to Rockey the Rockin’ RedBird being the official mascot. However, there are new Memphis RedBirds facts that many baseball supporters never knew or never heard of in their lives. For details on what facts baseball fans rarely knew about, please refer to Top 10 Memphis RedBirds Facts You Didn’t Know below!

10: AutoZone Park Used to Host Major League Baseball Games

The big leagues have a reputation for hosting high-profile sporting events. For instance, Major League Baseball showcases the All-Star Game that takes place every July. Before that time frame, the league would host the annual Player Draft that selects top prospects from college and high school. The grandaddiest baseball event of them all is the World Series, which crowns the season’s champion every fall. But believe it or not, AutoZone Park in Memphis used to host Major League Baseball contests. 

The RedBirds stadium was the site for the Civil Rights Game, which took place as an exhibition contest in 2007. The unique experience focused on the history of African Americans in the sport and allowed players to wear special uniforms. Anyway, the St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Cleveland club 5-1 in the inaugural game. One year later, the Civil Rights Game returned to Memphis as the New York Mets managed to beat the Chicago White Sox 3-2. However, the annual event became a neutral site showcase in 2009 and was eventually discontinued after the 2015 season. 

9: A RedBirds Game Went into a Delay in 2017 Because of a Fan Incident

Whenever a baseball contest goes into a delay, it usually happens because of something on the field. One example is that teams that play in open-air stadiums tend to have rain delays and have fans seek shelter. Another example is that unwanted guests like bees and gnats can interfere with the gameday experience for both players and fans. One more thing to point out is that a baseball game can go into a brief delay if a player suffers an injury or a manager gets ejected by the umpire. But did you know that a RedBirds contest went into a delay in 2017 because of a fan incident?

During Opening Week in 2017, the Memphis RedBirds were taking on the Colorado Springs Sky Sox (now San Antonio Missions). Then, all a sudden, an unnamed spectator collapsed near his seating section at home plate. Soon, medical officials rushed to the scene and put the fan on a stretcher en route to a local hospital. Meanwhile, the game went into a brief delay as both the RedBirds and Sky Sox were advised to leave the playing field. Even though the contest eventually resumed, the spectator’s condition was never made available to the public. 

8: Memphis has Never Thrown a No-Hitter in its Franchise History

Accomplishing a no-hitter is one of baseball’s rarest gems fans can encounter in their lives. This achievement takes place when a starting pitcher goes through nine innings without giving up a base hit. In more rare situations, no-hitters can occur in a combined effort if a starting pitcher is unable to continue due to injury. Perhaps the most difficult challenge for a pitcher is throwing a perfect game, where a pitcher throws nine innings without any hits or baserunners. But for the Memphis RedBirds, they have never thrown a no-hitter in franchise history. 

Over the past decade, the Mets and Padres were the last remaining clubs without a no-hitter until achieving one in 2012 and 2021 (respectively). Anyway, the RedBirds did end up getting no-hit during their in-state rivalry with the Nashville Sounds. In July 2006 at the now-defunct Herschel Greer Stadium, the Sounds threw a combined no-no against the Memphis club. In fact, the accomplishment was made by three pitchers: Carlos Villanueva, Mike Meyers, and Alec Zumwalt. As of today, the 2006 game was so far the only no-hitter that the RedBirds ever took part in. 

7: AutoZone Park is the Most Expensive Minor League Stadium in America

Whenever a sports fan goes to a Minor League Baseball contest, the gameday experience is somewhat different from the one from the big leagues. For Triple-A Baseball, their stadiums appeared to be smaller in capacity than Major League ballparks. In addition, some Minor League venues don’t have a full 360 concourse, so fans couldn’t walk around in a full loop. Another thought to keep in mind is that there are some Triple-A clubs that don’t have nearby parking garages or parking lots available. Despite all the differences, AutoZone Park in Memphis is the most expensive Minor League stadium in America. 

When the RedBirds’ downtown venue opened in 2000, it cost over $80 million to build it. Why did it cost millions and millions of dollars to construct AutoZone Park? One factor was due to the 360 concourse with a walkway behind the centerfield batter’s eye. Another factor was because of the one-of-a-king main entrance with a fan plaza located right behind it. Perhaps the main factor in AutoZone Park being so expensive was due to the team’s focus on fan experiences like higher seating capacity, a stadium in a brick layout, and permanent food concession stands. 

6: The RedBirds’ Former Home, Tim McCarver Stadium, was Replaced by Liberty Park Complex

Tim McCarver Stadium served as the first official home for the RedBirds when they began in 1998. The ballpark was named after former Broadcaster and 2012 Ford Frick winner Tim McCarver, who resided in Memphis. Anyway, the old venue was the site for many Minor League events like the RedBirds’ first game and the debut for the club’s rivalry against Nashville. However, Tim McCarver Stadium opened in the 1960s and was deemed too old for the RedBirds to continue playing there. Therefore, Memphis decided to relocate to their downtown ballpark in time for the 2000 season. 

Several years after the current venue’s opening, Tim McCarver Stadium was torn down and the property sat abandoned for over a decade. But in recent years, the city of Memphis has developed significant plans for the former site and its surroundings. In early 2020, town officials had officially announced plans to build a new sports complex called Liberty Park (which opens in 2022). The intentions included an indoor multi-use arena along with a new hotel for those participating in local school tournaments. The groundbreaking ceremony finally took place in 2021 after being pushed back a year due to the global pandemic. 

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5: The Memphis Club has Won Three Major Team Awards Since 2017

Winning a major award is considered a huge deal in Minor League Baseball, especially for those who are trying to get to the big leagues. If a person wins Most Valuable Player or Manager of the Year, then this scenario could increase his chances of getting called up to the Majors. Also, that person might face the chances of receiving an invitation to Spring Training from his team’s parent club. Fortunately, for the RedBirds, they have made Memphis proud by winning three team awards since 2017. As a matter of fact, the team has won player awards along with a national championship. 

The awards stretch began in 2017 when the Memphis RedBirds went on a back-to-back National Championship game appearance run. Despite losing the 2017 title to the Durham Bulls, Stubby Clapp received Manager of the Year honors. One year later, the RedBirds avenged their loss by defeating the Bulls to win their first National Title in franchise history. 2018 was also a special in terms of awards as Clapp won his second skipper award and Dakota Hudson claimed the Pacific Coast Pitcher of the Year trophy. Clapp has since become the 1st Base Coach for the Cardinals, while Hudson came to St. Louis as a reliever before joining the starting rotation. 

4: AutoZone Park Used to Host the I-40 Series Cup Between Memphis and Nashville

One of the greatest parts about sports is about watching some of the best rivalries battle out against each other. For instance, the east coast rivalries are a major draw for fans to consider, such as Red Sox vs. Yankees and Bruins vs. Canadiens. In addition, the Midwest has a reputation for hosting big-name rivalry contests that involve Cardinals vs. Cubs and Packers vs. Cowboys. Last but not least, the west side of the country witnesses some of the most vicious battles in the sports industry such as Dodgers vs. Giants and Lakers vs. Clippers. Interestingly, AutoZone Park used to host the annual Memphis vs. Nashville rivalry: the I-40 Series Cup. 

Named after the highway that connects the two cities, the I-40 Series Cup began in 2012. The grand prize for this rivalry received a two-foot silver trophy. The series was at stake because the team that lost the cup would have given donations to the winning club’s choice of charity. During the event’s run, the games were played at AutoZone Park and the now-demolished Herschel Greer Stadium in Nashville. Unfortunately, the I-40 Series Cup did not return for the 2016 season due to unspecified reasons. 

3: Willie Nelson and Bob Dylan Have Played the Most Shows at RedBirds Stadium

It is a normal practice for professional baseball parks to host large scale concerts. In fact, there are teams that previously hosted live music concerts. Those teams were the following: Cardinals, Guardians, Red Sox, Yankees, Reds, Dodgers, Twins, Astros, and many more. Concerts can vary with either a post-game event or just a stand alone performance during the off-season. But did you know that Willie Nelson and Bob Dylan have played more shows at RedBirds stadium than anyone else? And that doesn’t count singing at National Anthems or having themed nights. 

Country music artist Willie Nelson has played a total of two shows at AutoZone Park: 2005 and 2008. During his first appearance at RedBirds ballpark, Nelson collaborated with American singer Bob Dylan. In his recent performance at the stadium, Nelson co-headlined with the Dave Matthews Band. Meanwhile, Dylan returned to AutoZone Park in 2013 to play a live stage show. However, the RedBirds venue has not hosted a major concert since Bob Dylan in 2013

2: The RedBirds Incorporated the Team’s Neon Style Logo from Beale Street

Having a logo is considered one of the most important commandments in terms of promoting its brand. The featured image would be used on players’ caps and jerseys during baseball games. Also, a logo would be showcased at the team store ranging from t-shirts to collectable pins and magnets. One more thing to consider is that the featured image would be used in many types of media such as viewership (television and tablet) and print (newspaper and book). Anyway, Memphis has one of Minor League Baseball’s most iconic logos in the industry. 

When the RedBirds began their franchise in 1998, they wanted to create a logo that represented both their image and their connection with the city. So they developed a featured image that looked like neon lights were installed on it. Speaking of neon lights, the idea was inspired by the ones located on Beale Street. The tourist attraction in Memphis is quite popular at night as the neon lights from restaurants and stores are on. Whenever the RedBirds take the field, they bring a piece of Beale Street with them. 

1: AutoZone Park Welcomed its 10 Millionth Fan to a RedBirds Game in 2016

Fans, no matter how old they are, are perhaps the main target market for sports teams trying to sell game tickets. In addition, spectators would go to events to either watch a baseball game or witness a football contest. Another thing to keep in mind is that fans would buy things during games, such as souvenirs from team stores and hot dogs from food stands. For large market cities, they tend to draw a huge number of spectators attending their sporting events on an annual basis. If a certain stadium reaches a major milestone like welcoming a millionth fan in its history, then the team that plays in that venue would offer a celebration.

Well, for the Memphis RedBirds, that was the case when AutoZone Park welcomed its 10 millionth fan to the game in 2016. The team honored that milestone by giving away prizes and souvenirs to those in attendance. In terms of maintaining a large fan turnout over the years, there were factors that led to the milestone in the first place. One reason was that AutoZone Park was considered in the top five for Best Minor League Stadium in America. Perhaps the main factor in the high number of fans per year is that the ballpark is located in the city center and not several minutes from downtown. 

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