J. P. Small Memorial Stadium

J. P. Small Memorial Stadium is a baseball park in Jacksonville, Florida. It is located in the Durkeeville community in northwest Jacksonville. Constructed in 1912 and rebuilt in 1936, it was the city's first municipal recreation field, and served as its primary baseball park before the construction of Wolfson Park in 1954. Throughout the years the stadium has been known at various times as Barrs Field, Durkee Field, and the Myrtle Avenue Ball Park.

J. P. Small Memorial Stadium
Jacksonville's First Municipal Baseball Stadium
Former namesBarrs Field (1912–1926)
Joseph E. Durkee Athletic Field (1926–1985)
Myrtle Avenue Ball Park
(local name)
Location1701 Myrtle Avenue Jacksonville, Florida, United States
Coordinates30°20′47″N 81°40′30″W / 30.34639°N 81.67500°WCoordinates: 30°20′47″N 81°40′30″W / 30.34639°N 81.67500°W
OwnerCity of Jacksonville
OperatorCity of Jacksonville
Field sizeLeft Field: 337 ft
Center Field: 375 ft
Right Field: 285 ft
SurfaceGrass
Construction
Opened1912
Renovated1936, 1985, 2006
Demolished1936 (Fire); immediately rebuilt
Construction costUS$
Tenants
Negro leagues:
Jacksonville Red Caps (NAL) (1938,1941-42)
Minor leagues:
Jacksonville Braves (SAL) (1953)
Jacksonville Jets (SAL) (1961)
Jacksonville Tars (SEL) (1926–1930)
Jacksonville Scouts/Indians (FSL) (1921–1922)
Major League Spring Training:
Brooklyn Dodgers (NL) (1919–1920, 1922)
New York Yankees (AL) (1919–1920)
Pittsburgh Pirates (NL) (1918)
Philadelphia Athletics (AL) (1914–1918)
Joseph H. Durkee Athletic Field
J. P. Small Memorial Stadium is located in Florida
J. P. Small Memorial Stadium
LocationJacksonville, Florida
Coordinates30°20′47″N 81°40′30″W / 30.34639°N 81.67500°W
NRHP reference #13000484[1]
Added to NRHPJuly 11, 2013[1]

History

Barrs Field era

The original facility was constructed in 1911–1912 on a patch of land owned by Joseph H. Durkee, a former Union officer during the American Civil War who had settled in Jacksonville, where he became a prominent businessman and politician. In 1911, Durkee's son Jay Durkee turned control of the property over to Amander Barrs, a local businessman and President of the Jacksonville Baseball Association. Barrs ordered the construction of a recreational field to be used by local teams on the property. The facility was completed in 1912 and was known as Barrs Field, but was generally known as the Myrtle Avenue Ball Park to locals.[2] One early tenant was the Jacksonville Athletics, an African-American club for which James Weldon Johnson played. One of the rare professional clubs was the Jacksonville Scouts of the Florida State League, who played in 1921. However, as the city had no municipal park, other teams used fields at the Jacksonville Fairgrounds or across the river in South Jacksonville during this time.[2]

In addition to local teams, Major League clubs including the New York Giants and the Brooklyn Dodgers held their spring training at the field. The Philadelphia Athletics were the first major league team to use Barrs Field for spring training, from 1914 until 1918. In 1918, the Pittsburgh Pirates held their spring training at the ballpark. From 1919 until 1920, the New York Yankees and the Brooklyn Dodgers called Barrs Field their spring training home. The Dodgers would return for one last spring at Barrs in 1922.

Durkee Field era

The lack of a city park led both major and minor league teams to avoid Jacksonville after 1922. In 1926, the city government decided to purchase Barrs Field from Durkee in hopes of bringing back professional baseball. On March 13, 1926, the city signed a binder to purchase the park, which was renamed Durkee Field. Shortly after this, the city entered into negotiations to bring a Southeastern League franchise to the city. This was successful, and the original incarnation of the Jacksonville Tars was born.[2]

In 1932, the city purchased Durkee Field for $348,000. The original stadium was destroyed in a fire in 1936, but the city immediately rebuilt it in 1936–1937. The new structure was larger, and included a section for African-American patrons in the era of segregation. In 1938 and from 1941 to mid-1942, Jacksonville's only Negro league franchise, the Jacksonville Red Caps of the Negro American League, used the park as their home field.[3]

The Jersey City Giants held spring training at the ballpark in 1946. In that year, the Giants were scheduled to play against a Montreal Royals team that included Jackie Robinson and John Wright, who were in the process of integrating organized baseball. The Giants-Royals game was scheduled for On March 24, 1946 at Durkee Field; however, the Jacksonville Playground and Recreation Board prohibited "white and Negro athletes" from playing together in their facilities, and they pledged to bar Robinson and Wright from the park. The Royals, with support from the Dodgers, refused to leave Robinson and Wright at Montreal's training camp in Daytona Beach, and they canceled the game.[4]

In 1953, Jacksonville businessman Samuel W. Wolfson purchased the Jacksonville Tars franchise and reorganized the team as the Jacksonville Braves, a Class A affiliate of the Milwaukee Braves Major League Baseball club. Among the major changes Wolfson introduced was racial integration. Three black players from the Braves farm system – Hank Aaron, Félix Mantilla, and Horace Garner – came to Jacksonville, making the Braves one of the first integrated teams in the South Atlantic League and in the state of Florida.[5] The following year, the city started construction on Wolfson Park, and the Braves moved out upon its completion.[5]

Later use and renovation

After its replacement as the municipal ballpark, Durkee Field continued to be used by local high schools and colleges, including Edward Waters College, Raines High School, and Stanton High School. By the late 1970s the stadium was in disrepair, and it was scheduled for demolition. Local advocates pushed to save the park, and in 1980 Jacksonville City Council member Sallye B. Mathis sponsored legislation to renovate it and rename it for J. P. Small, who served as a teacher, band director, coach, and athletic director at Stanton High from 1934 to 1969. Renovations included structural repairs, a new roof, press box and dugouts, paving the parking lot, a new playscape, and lighted fields. Councilwoman Denise Lee and Mayor Jake Godbold hosted a rededication ceremony at the park.

Following the demolition of Wolfson Park in 2002, J. P. Small Ballpark became the last historic park in the city of Jacksonville. In May 2003 the Jacksonville City Government pushed forward legislation that would give J. P. Small Ballpark a permanent historical marker. Further renovation in 2006 included a small museum. In July 2013, the park was added to the National Register of Historic Places under the name Joseph E. Durkee Athletic Field.[1]

References

  1. ^ a b c Weekly List Of Actions Taken On Properties: 7/08/13 through 7/12/13
  2. ^ a b c Foley, Bill (March 13, 1999). "Millennium Moment: March 13, 1926". The Florida Times-Union. Retrieved June 29, 2011.
  3. ^ Lowry, Philip J. (2006). Green Cathedrals: The Ultimate Celebration of Major League and Negro League Ballparks. New York: Walker Publishing Company. pp. 107–108. ISBN 0-8027-1562-1.
  4. ^ "Royals' Game Off at Jacksonville". New York Times. 1946-03-23. Retrieved 2009-09-24.
  5. ^ a b Foley, Bill (October 22, 1997). "Braves ousted again: It's the Jacksonville jinx". The Florida Times-Union. Retrieved June 29, 2011.

External links

List of Major League Baseball spring training ballparks

The following is a list of current and former Major League Baseball spring training ballparks.

Neighborhoods of Jacksonville

There are more than 500 neighborhoods within the area of Jacksonville, Florida, the largest city in the contiguous United States by area. These include Downtown Jacksonville and surrounding neighborhoods. Additionally, greater Jacksonville is traditionally divided into several major sections with amorphous boundaries: Northside, Westside, Southside, and Arlington, as well as the Jacksonville Beaches.There are four municipalities within Duval County that are outside of Jacksonville's city limits: Baldwin, Atlantic Beach, Neptune Beach, and Jacksonville Beach. The latter three communities, all located on a coastal barrier island, form part of the area known as the Jacksonville Beaches, together with Mayport within the Jacksonville city limits and Ponte Vedra Beach in St. Johns County.

Stanton College Preparatory School

Stanton College Preparatory School is an academically renowned public high school in Jacksonville, Florida. The school's history dates to the 1860s when it was begun as an elementary school serving the African-American population under the then-segregated education system. It now serves secondary students (grades 9-12) within the Duval County Public Schools of Duval County, Florida. The school offers special curricula which include Honors courses, Advanced Placement, and International Baccalaureate courses. In 2005, the Advanced Placement Report to the Nation officially recognized Stanton College Preparatory School as the best large size high school for Advanced Placement European History and Advanced Placement English Literature and Composition in the world.

From 2000 to 2003, Stanton College Prep was ranked first in Newsweek magazine's list of the top 1,000 public schools in the United States, and is the only school in the nation to have been in the top 5 every year from 2000-2011. US News and World Report ranked Stanton at ninth place on its 2008 list of America's Best High Schools. It has frequently ranked first in the US in the number of International Baccalaureate diplomas awarded. Stanton perennially leads the Jacksonville metropolitan area in the number of National Merit Scholarship recipients, and consistently ranks in the top three in the state. The school has been named a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence. As of August 2014, Stanton is rated number 12 of the top high schools in the nation by US News and number 10 by Newsweek.Stanton was called "one of the premier IB and AP public schools in the country" by Jay Mathews in his 2005 book Supertest: How the International Baccalaureate Can Strengthen Our Schools. To many students, Stanton is known for its challenging academics and rigorous standards. Most Stanton students attend some form of college after graduation, whether four-year or two-year institutions, local, national, or international. In 2014, the Washington Post ranked the school as the 4th most challenging high school in the Southern United States.

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