This offseason saw the Jumbo Shrimp sign a new affiliation deal with the Miami Marlins that raised the team from the Double-A Southern League to the new Triple-A East level. The last time Jacksonville hosted Triple-A ball was 1968, when the Jacksonville Suns played in the International League as a New York Mets affiliate. The 1969 season saw the Mets switch affiliation to the Tidewater Tides and Jacksonville losing MiLB ball until the 1971, when the reconstituted Suns played in the ill-fated Dixie Association formed by the short-term merger of the Southern League and Texas League.
(Never heard of the Dixie Association? Then you’re in for a treat, as Mark McCarter discusses how a bad idea became an even worse reality in Never a Bad Game: Fifty-Plus Years of the Southern League.)
Though attendance was capped at 45 percent, the Suns drew 3,469 fans for the historic game.