While Jacksonville’s biggest professional sports franchise is inarguably the NFL’s Jaguars, the city has a rich history of hosting successful sports teams that long predates the arrival of the Jags.
Jax has hosted several championship-caliber franchises over the years. Some helped pave the way for future teams, while a few are still in operation here today.
We’ve compiled a list of the best minor-league professional sports franchises to call Jacksonville their home. Let us know if you agree or disagree!
Before becoming the founder of the Jacksonville Suns, Samuel Wolfson helmed another minor-league baseball franchise in Jax.
The Jacksonville Braves came into existence when Wolfson purchased a lowly local baseball franchise, the Tars, and cleaned house, converting the team into a new affiliate for the Boston Braves.
The Braves affiliation – combined with Wolfson’s support of racial integration – meant that Jax crowds got to witness future MLB stars like Felix Mantilla and even a young Hank Aaron.
Playing in the South Atlantic League, the Jax Braves finished in first place three times, advanced to the championship game four times, and won the league championship in 1956.
The team initially played its games at a field in the Durkeeville neighborhood, but thanks to the Braves’ success – and strong attendance numbers – a new downtown baseball park was built in 1955 to accommodate them.
Wolfson sold the team a year after their championship run, and by 1960 it lost its Braves affiliation and ceased operations. But its success helped paved the way for another entry on this list: the Suns.