JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Browns on Thursday conducted a walk-through practice and museum tour at J.P. Small Memorial Stadium, a century-old baseball park that has holds history in both the professional baseball and football worlds.
Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Ty Cobb, Satchel Paige and "Cool Papa" Bell all played games on the field, and in 1915 the park was the site of the first ever Georgia-Florida college football game. The Jacksonville Red Caps, a Negro League baseball team, called the stadium home in 1938 and from 1941-42. It was also the site of several minor league baseball teams through the '60s and a spring training facility for multiple MLB teams in the first decade of its existence.
The Browns conducted the light practice in the outfield wearing shorts and T-shirt jerseys. After practice, they were given a history lesson of the stadium and took a quick tour in the museum underneath the stadium's bleachers.
"Instead of having a walk-through in the hotel, we had a walk-through in the outfield," head coach Kevin Stefanski said. "There's so much history here, and just walking around here and seeing the people who have passed through here, whether it's Babe Ruth or Satchel Paige or Hank Aaron, is pretty special."
The Browns arrived in Jacksonville a day early on Wednesday for the experience, which took place a day before their first preseason game against the Jaguars. The walk-through and tour was another opportunity Stefanski wanted to use toward team-bonding, an element he's emphasized for the players throughout the offseason.
During minicamp in June, the Browns visited the Cleveland Cavaliers’ practice facility and traveled down to Canton for a tour of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and walk-through practice at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium.
"It feels like a field trip, as though we were back in school in a class and we were all together," safety John Johnson III said. "Every time you do something like this, (the chemistry) gets better and better. It's about being comfortable around your teammates, talking to guys that you might not be as close to and in different position groups. It always helps."