The first-of-its-kind initiative focuses on different ownership groups for different MLB franchises
Nashville, TN – Music City Baseball has appointed Dave “Smoke” Stewart to lead the first-of-its-kind Divers Equity Ownership Initiative for Major League Baseball (MLB) franchise ownership.
Stewart identifies a group of high-value investors for mutual ownership, prioritizing small investors. This marks a step forward for the MLB team to be called the Nashville Stars in its efforts to keep the Nashville team, either through expansion or relocation.
Stewart brings more than 40 years of experience as a player, coach, agent and front office executive in MLB, winning three World Series titles as a player with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Oakland Athletics and Toronto Blue Jays. Since 2019, he has served as an active board member and baseball consultant for Music City Baseball.
“The time has come for black ownership in Major League Baseball. Now, more than ever, we need to change the dynamics and open up access to ownership for minorities, Stewart said. “We are creating a historic opportunity with the Nashville Stars, and I am proud to lead our efforts to ensure an ownership group aligned with our core mission, values and legacy.”
The proposed team name, the Nashville Stars, pays homage to the Negro Leagues teams that played in Nashville in the 1940s and 1950s. Stewart honors that legacy in his search for owners and continues his partnership with the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.
“In this important effort to bring Major League Baseball to Nashville, we have added an actor to our pitching staff,” said Bob Kendrick, president of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and a board member of Music City Baseball. “In this new role, he will break down the barriers to MLB ownership and create a better, more equitable future for the sport. Dave embodies the true spirit of the Negro Leagues not only in the way he played the game, but in the way he helped grow our game through his contributions as a coach, agent and executive — the reason we brought him to our ballpark in 2019.” “
In addition to celebrating the past, this initiative will help build the future of the game in a rapidly growing region. The city of Nashville will have the largest economic growth of any major U.S. metro area by 2021, according to a data and analytics firm.
“Nashville has a unique opportunity to preserve history by creating history, celebrating our city’s legacy and bringing new opportunities for equity participation and economic development,” said Music City Baseball Managing Director John Lohr. “Baseball has a rich history of breaking down barriers, and the Diversity Equity Ownership initiative under Dave’s leadership will do just that in a city set for a major league franchise.”
There are currently no black principal owners in MLB. While the league has not made any decisions regarding expansion or relocation to Nashville, the move to focus on a more diverse ownership structure demonstrates MLB’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.
“The vision of the Nashville Stars is the future of the game. My focus is to honor former Negro Leagues players and bring black and diverse voices to the table,” Stewart said. “Nashville is giving Major League Baseball an opportunity to do something that has never been done before. It’s time to make history.”
About Music City Baseball, LLC
Music City Baseball, LLC is an organization of primarily Tennessee business, sports, music and community leaders committed to bringing a Major League Baseball franchise to the city of Nashville, who plan to name the stars of Nashville. Focusing on securing the approval of a Major League Baseball expansion franchise in Nashville, the management team welcomes the opportunity to relocate and rebrand the existing franchise. For more information, please visit https://www.mlbmusiccity.com.
About the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum
The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum (NLBM) is the only museum in the world dedicated to preserving and celebrating the history of African American baseball and its impact on American social development. The privately funded 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization was founded in 1990 and is located in the heart of Kansas City, Missouri’s historic 18th and Vine Jazz District. The NLBM operates two blocks from the Paseo YMCA, where Andrew “Rube” Foster founded the Negro National League in 1920. To learn more about the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, please visit https://www.nlbm.com.
About Dave “Smoke” Stewart
Dave “Smoke” Stewart is a former MLB All-Star who had a successful postseason, winning the World Series MVP and two League Championship Series MVP awards. After his playing career, he served as a pitching coach for the San Diego Padres, Milwaukee Brewers and Toronto Blue Jays. He also spent time as the assistant general manager of the Blue Jays. After Stewart left Toronto, he established his own representative agency in San Diego until the Arizona Diamondbacks hired him as general manager. Stewart’s diverse and unique experience enables him to bring a “team-first” approach to organizational development to success. He is currently inducted into the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum Hall of Fame in 2019 as a board member and baseball advisor for Music City Baseball.