2002 Greyhound Hall of Fame Inductee
James J. Patton began his career in Greyhound racing during the 1940-1941 season as a seller at Jacksonville Kennel Club, and advanced through the money room to paddock judge before World War II interrupted his career. Born in March of 1915 in Burnham, Ill., Patton attended Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio. He farmed 1,400 acres near Earl Park, Ind. with his brother prior to working at Jacksonville. After serving in the United States Coast Guard during the war, Patton returned to Jacksonville in 1945 as a vice president.
He aided in supervising the construction of Orange Park Kennel Club that opened in 1946. He became president of that track and the Jacksonville Kennel Club in 1967, and held those positions until his retirement in 1987. Under his leadership, the tracks increased in number and the facilities were continually updated and improved.
He initiated an expansion and renovation program to improve facilities in the 1970s. It included the rebuilding of the Orange Park Kennel Club in 1971, the acquisition of the Bayard Raceways horse track and its conversion to the present St. Johns Greyhound Park in 1977, and the expansion and rebuilding of the clubhouse and grandstand areas at the Jacksonville Kennel Club in 1978. St. Johns was completely rebuilt in 1983 as more capital improvements were instituted during that decade.
n addition, Patton was vice president of the Tampa Greyhound Track and the Sportsman’s Park horseracing track in Chicago. He also was a founding member of the San Jose Country Club and The River Club, and served as a member of the Gator Bowl Association board during the 1950s.
Patton was in the forefront in the state of Florida in instituting charity days at pari-mutuel facilities and during the 10-year period starting in 1980, the three Jacksonville area Greyhound tracks contributed over $3 million to local charities.
Jimmy Patton also is remembered as a “people’s man” who had a table at the entrance to the lounge in the clubhouse so he could meet and greet everyone, including many movie stars such as Jackie Gleason.
Patton and his wife, Mary, had a daughter, Mary. Patton died in 1993.