Al Autry pitched for the 1972 and 1974 Jacksonville Suns.

For a moment, think about how extraordinary you have to be to play Major League Baseball.

Each year, an estimated that 2.2 million children play Tee-ball across the world. Like a candle slowly burning, that number gradually gets smaller and smaller as kids get older. In the 2019–20 school year, there were 484,024 high school baseball players, meaning less than a quarter of those kids who populate Tee-ball leagues play baseball at a competitive level barely a decade later. College baseball slices that number even further, with approximately 36,000 student-athletes each year. And while we don’t yet have the exact…


Clayton Kershaw went straight to the majors from Double-A Jacksonville, but is that the exception or the norm?

It’s a question that’s been asked somewhat consistently since the Jumbo Shrimp received an invitation to become the Miami Marlins’ Triple-A affiliate: Yes, Triple-A is the highest level of Minor League Baseball, but isn’t it just an extension of the major league roster and not a place for a team’s top prospects?

No doubt, it’s a valid question. Of course, a 26-man active roster in MLB necessitates members of the 40-man roster*, most of whom have galvanized at least some MLB experience, to be sent down to Triple-A. …


Hank Aaron, pictured with the Jacksonville Braves in 1953.

Eleven different Hall of Famers either played or managed in Jacksonville at some point during their careers.

The list includes Tom Seaver, Randy Johnson, Nolan Ryan, Phil Niekro and Rube Marquard (one day, in this dream rotation, Clayton Kershaw will push Marquard to the bullpen), which is a manager’s dream to just simply run a different ace out to the mound every single day. Speaking of managers, Al López, who caught for the 1927 Jacksonville Tars, later became a Hall of Fame skipper with the Chicago White Sox.

Not that López would ever need to use his bullpen on this…


Arlie Latham is the earliest Jacksonville alumni to play in a major league game.

It’s quite possible that the first Jacksonville player to appear in a major league game has the greatest nickname in baseball history: Arlie Latham, after all, was known as “The Freshest Man on Earth.” It’s been downhill ever since.

“The Freshest Man on Earth” is not a nickname bestowed upon an ordinary man. The son of a bugler in the Union Army during the Civil War, Walter Arlington Latham was anything but.

Latham was born in West Lebanon, N.H., on March 15, 1860. Nearly eight months later, Abraham Lincoln was elected President. …


Jacksonville has won three championships as an affiliate of the Marlins.

The Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp being invited to Triple-A is a lot like rekindling an old friendship; Jacksonville fielded a team at Minor League Baseball’s top level from 1962–68.

The Jumbo Shrimp potentially continuing their affiliation with the Miami Marlins, which dates back to 2009, is slightly different; No, they aren’t quite the couple that has grown old together, like, say, the 53 years the Phillies have been affiliated with Double-A Reading. But since Jacksonville joined up with the Marlins 12 years ago, 12 Triple-A teams have changed affiliations at least once with an MLB parent club. …


Nolan Ryan pitched for the Triple-A Jacksonville Suns in 1967.

It is official: The Miami Marlins have invited the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp to be their top minor league affiliate. The move would mark the second time that Jacksonville will field a Triple-A team.

The city’s earliest minor league days can be traced back to the Jacksonville Jays, a Class C team in the South Atlantic League that started play in 1904. The club changed its name to the Tarpons in 1911 and then to the Roses in 1917. Jacksonville did not see minor league baseball following that 1917 campaign until 1921, when the Jacksonville Scouts played in the Florida State…


Buddy Gray (second from right) and the Jacksonville Suns bat boys in 1971. (photo courtesy of Buddy Gray)

Joe Pepitone was rounding the bases after clubbing a home run and Buddy Gray looked on with awe. The 13-year-old had been watching Pepitone on NBC’s Game of the Week for years when Pepitone had played for the New York Yankees. Now, the three-time All-Star and Gold Glove Award winner was a member of the Houston Astros and he was at Wolfson Park in Jacksonville, helping Houston during one final tune-up for the 1970 season in an exhibition game against the Montreal Expos.

Fifty years later, Gray still has not forgotten Pepitone’s home run trot. His view, though, did not…


George Suggs was one of three major leaguers on the 1904 Jacksonville Jays, the city’s first minor league team.

The very first minor league baseball team in Jacksonville was the 1904 Jacksonville Jays. Baseball-Reference doesn’t even know the club’s record and only lists 21 players, including just four pitchers, on the roster for the entire season. Of those 21 players, two (INF Jimmy Mathison and C Jack Robinson) had already made their major league debuts in 1902. Right-handed pitcher George Suggs made his MLB debut in 1908, marking the third and final big leaguer on that squad.

In the 116 years since, that 1904 Jacksonville Jays team set the tone for the now 896 players who have donned a…


Former Jacksonville Sun Elliot Soto (left) made his MLB debut on September 25, 2020 for the Los Angeles Angels. (Roger C. Hoover/Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp)

Former Jacksonville infielder Elliot Soto made his major league debut on Friday for the Los Angeles Angels against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Soto is the 12th Jacksonville alumnus to record his MLB debut during the 2020 season and the 561st player of Jacksonville’s Double-A era (1970-present) to have played both for Jacksonville and in The Show.

Soto spent 10 seasons in the minor leagues before entering Friday’s game as a pinch runner in the top of the seventh inning. He remained in the contest and played second base. Soto started at shortstop both Saturday and Sunday for…


Braxton Garrett earned the win with five strong innings in Sunday’s doubleheader against Philadelphia. (Dothan Herald)

Former Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp left-handed pitcher Braxton Garrett made his major league debut in Sunday’s doubleheader for the Miami Marlins against the Philadelphia Phillies at Marlins Park. The southpaw is the 11th Jumbo Shrimp alumnus to make his debut in The Show this year and the 58th player of the Jumbo Shrimp era (2017-present) to play for both Jacksonville and in the big leagues.

The highest-drafted Alabama high schooler since 1971, Garrett was the seventh overall selection in 2017 out of Florence High School (Ala.). He started the finale of Miami’s doubleheader with Philadelphia, yielding just one run on three…

Scott Kornberg

Broadcaster and Media and Public Relations Manager for the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store