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Hidden Gems: J.P. Small Park is beginning a new web only series checking out some of the great places in Jacksonville you may not know exist.

We are starting off with J. P. Small Park in Durkeeville.

We welcome your suggestions.

Opened in 1912, and rebuilt in 1936, J.P. Small Park served as Jacksonville's primary baseball park until Wolfson Stadium was built in 1954.

Several minor league teams played on the field. At times it served as the spring training home to the Brooklyn Dodgers, New York Yankees, Pittsburgh Pirates and Philadelphia Athletics.

The Negro American  League's Jacksonville Red Caps played on the field for 3 years.

Baseball legends Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Ty Cobb, Satchel Paige and "Cool Papa" Bell all played on the field. Jackie Robinson was scheduled to play an exhibition game at the park when he was with the Dodgers, but a city law prohibited black players from playing on the same field with white players. Rather than leave Jacksonville behind the Dodgers canceled the game.    

The ballpark is named after James P. Small, who was a longtime teacher and baseball coach at Stanton High School.  

Kevin Meerschaert has left WJCT for new pursuits. He was the producer of First Coast Connect until October of 2018.