Baseball in Jacksonville has a rich history that can be traced back to a handful of minor league teams in the early 1900s, as well as the Negro leagues' Jacksonville Red Caps between 1938 and 1942. The present-day Suns franchise, however, was born in 1962. The club played in the International League from its inaugural season through 1968, before moving to Norfolk, Virginia. Jacksonville didn't have a minor league team in 1969, but a rebranded version of the Suns joined the Southern League in 1970. This team lasted through 1984, before being renamed to the Expos in honor of the team's parent club in Montreal. The Jacksonville Expos existed between 1985 and 1990; the team's name was changed back to the Suns once the Expos affiliation ended. Since then, the Suns have had partnerships with the Seattle Mariners, Detroit Tigers, Los Angeles Dodgers and, most recently, the Miami Marlins since 2008.
The Suns play the home games on their schedule at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville, which opened in 2003. The park has an official capacity of 11,000, making it the largest stadium in not only the Southern League, but in all of Double-A baseball. The Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville's notable features include grass berm seating, in-seat concession services for the seats behind home plate and a traditional brick design. The park played host to the NCAA's ACC baseball tournament between 2005 and 2008.
Multiple Southern League Championships
After sporadic success in the first several decades of play, the Suns have become a perennial championship contender in the Southern League. The team won the league title in 1968 and 1996, but made news headlines by proving to be one of the hottest teams in the 2000s, powering its way to league titles in 2001, 2005, 2009 and 2010. With the exception of the 2008 season, the Suns have posted a winning record every year since 2005.
Jacksonville Suns Roster
The Suns roster has featured the names of several players who went on to have productive Major League Baseball careers. These names include Randy Johnson, Clayton Kershaw, Giancarlo Stanton, Nolan Ryan, Tug McGraw, Tom Seaver, Frank White, Gabe Kapler and Brandon Inge.
During Spring Training, members of the Suns share Roger Dean Stadium with other players from the Miami Marlins system. The park opened in 1998 and has an official capacity of 6,871. It is currently shared with the St. Louis Cardinals and was the former Cactus League home of the Montreal Expos.
The Ballpark Guide hasn't visited the Jacksonville Suns yet, but hopes to in the near future. If you're excited to read a fan guide to the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville, check out the many ways you can support The Ballpark Guide on future baseball road trips.