The Nashville Sounds began play in the Southern League in 1978 when the circuit expanded. Originally an affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds, the club led the league in attendance in their first season and won a championship in their second. In 1980, they joined the New York Yankees farm system. In five years with the Yanks, they won another title (1982) and featured future big leaguers such as Don Mattingly, Willie McGee, Otis Nixon, Steve Balboni, and Jim Deshaies on their roster. After the 1984 season, the Evansville Triplets of the American Association moved to Nashville and became the Sounds. The Southern League club relocated to Huntsville, Alabama.
After spending their first two AAA seasons as a Detroit Tigers affiliate, the Sounds rejoined the Reds organization in 1987. In their six years with the Reds, they reached the league championship series once (1990) but fell short in their quest for a title. In 1993, they switched affiliations once again, this time to the Chicago White Sox. They reached the league championships in their first two years with the club, but, again, lost each time. During five seasons in the Sox farm system, the team featured future major leaguers Magglio Ordonez, Ray Durham, and James Baldwin.
Pacific Coast League
After the 1997 season, the American Association ceased operations, so the Sounds moved to the Pacific Coast League. They also joined the Pittsburgh Pirates farm system at this time. Under the Pirates, they mostly struggled on the field but did reach the league championship series in 2003, again finishing as runner-up. Another highlight that year was pitcher John Wasdin throwing a perfect game on April 7th against the Albuquerque Isotopes. Since 2005, the Sounds have been a Milwaukee Brewers affiliate. In their first year with the Brewers, led by top prospects Prince Fielder, Rickie Weeks, Corey Hart, and Nelson Cruz (who was named the playoff MVP), they won the PCL title, giving Nashville its first championship in over two decades. They made the playoffs again in 2006, but failed to defend their title. In 2007, Manny Parra, one of the most coveted draft-and-follow players ever signed, threw a perfect game for the Sounds. The Sounds were scheduled to move into a new downtown ballpark called First Tennessee Field in 2008, but due to problems with financing and design plans, the deal fell through and the new stadium will not be built.