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Play Ball! Treasures Uncovered in the TU Collection

Season opener at Durkee Field, April 20, 1938 (From the Times-Union photo collection at the Jacksonville Historical Society)

Spring is in the air, and that means baseball. With opening day just around the corner, we thought it would be fun to do a deep dive into the Florida Times-Union photo collection and visit Jacksonville’s storied baseball past. Some of the earliest negatives in the collection are from the 1937 season of the Jacksonville Tars.

The Tars were Jacksonville’s second professional team, playing for the South Atlantic League. As early as 1926, the team captured the hearts of Jaxsons and thrilled audiences until they were purchased by Samuel Wolfson in 1952. Wolfson then integrated the team and joined the Braves franchise. The newly formed Jacksonville Braves would include Hammerin’ Hank Aaron on the 1953 roster, and the team would go on to win the league championship that year.

Left, scanned negative of player, April 10, 1937. (From the Times-Union photo collection at the Jacksonville Historical Society)

These incredible images have not been seen for more than half a century, but so many of these negatives are at risk and are already deteriorating. That’s why it’s imperative that we take steps now to digitize them using the highest archival standards. There are literally tens of thousands of these photos, and each one tells a unique story. It’s our mission to preserve them all.

Right, unidentified Jacksonville Journal staff with Jacksonville Tars illustration, circa 1950. (From a collection donated by Peggy Jo Livingstone, a former employee of the Jacksonville Journal)

Mitch Hemann, Senior Archivist, Jacksonville Historical Society

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