The first-of-its-kind initiative will focus on a diversified ownership group for a potential MLB franchise
Nashville, Tennessee Music City Baseball has appointed Dave “Smoke” Stewart to lead the Diversified Stock Ownership Initiative, the first-ever model of Major League Baseball (MLB) franchise ownership.
Stewart will select a group of high net-worth investors for the co-ownership, with priority for minority investors. This represents a step forward in Nashville’s quest to secure an MLB team through expansion or transfer, which is to be called the Nashville Stars.
Stewart has more than 40 years of MLB experience as a player, coach, agent, and front office executive, having won three World Championship titles as a player with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Oakland Athletics and the Toronto Blue Jays. Since 2019, he has served as an active board member and baseball advisor at Music City Baseball.
“It is time for black ownership in Major League Baseball. Now, more than ever, we need to change the dynamics and open access to ownership for minorities,” Stewart said. “We are creating a historic opportunity with the Nashville Stars, and I am proud to lead our effort to secure an ownership group aligned with our core mission, values and legacy.”
The proposed team name, Nashville Stars, honors the Negro league teams that played in Nashville in the 1940s and 1950s. Stewart, in his search for owners, will honor this legacy and continue the ongoing partnership with the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.
“We have added the ace to our staff in this important effort to bring Major League Baseball to Nashville,” said Bob Kendrick, president of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and a board member at Music City Baseball. “In this new role, he will break down barriers in MLB ownership and create a better and more equitable future for the sport. Dave embodies the true spirit of the Negro League, not only in the way he played the game, but also in the way he helped advance our game through his contributions as a coach. And an agent and CEO – all the reasons why he joined our playroom in 2019.”
In addition to honoring the past, this initiative will help build the future of the game in a rapidly growing region. Nashville had the most economic growth in 2021 for large US metro areas according to Stessa, a data and analytics company.
“Nashville has a unique opportunity to preserve history by creating history, honoring our city’s heritage, and creating new opportunities for participation in capital and economic development,” said John Lower, managing director of Music City Baseball. “Baseball has a rich history of breaking down barriers, and the Diversified Stock Ownership Initiative under Dave’s leadership would do just that in a city poised for a major league franchise.”
There are currently no black primary owners in MLB. While the league has not made any decisions about expanding or moving to Nashville, the effort to focus on a diversified ownership structure reflects MLB’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.
“The Nashville Stars vision is the future of the game. I focus on honoring former Negro league players and bringing black and diverse voices to the table,” Stewart said. “Nashville is giving Major League Baseball the opportunity to do something that hasn’t been done before. It’s time to make history.”
About Music City Baseball, LLC
Music City Baseball, LLC is a Tennessee business, sports, music, and community leaders organization committed to bringing the Major League Baseball franchise to the city of Nashville, which they plan to name the Nashville Stars. With a focus on securing Major League Baseball’s approval of an expanding franchise in Nashville, the leadership team will welcome the possibility of transferring and rebranding the existing one. For more information, please visit https://www.mlbmusiccity.com.
About the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum
The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum (NLBM) is the world’s only museum dedicated to preserving and celebrating the rich history of African American baseball and its impact on America’s social progress. The privately funded 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization was established in 1990 and is located in the heart of Kansas City, Missouri’s 18th Historic District and Vine Jazz County. 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 player who has thrived in the post-season, winning a World Series MVP, and two League Championship Series MVP awards. Following his playing career, he served as pitching coach for the San Diego Padres, Milwaukee Brewers, and Toronto Blue Jays. He also spent some time as the assistant general manager of the Blue Jays Group. After leaving Toronto, Stewart formed his own acting agency based in San Diego until the Arizona Diamondbacks appointed him as general manager. Stewart’s unique and diverse experience allows him to approach organizational development with a “team first” approach to success. He is currently a board member and baseball advisor for Music City Baseball and was inducted into the game hall of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in 2019.