DAYTONA, Fla. (October 1, 2012) - The Fort Myers Miracle have been selected as the Florida State League nominee for the John H. Johnson President's Award as announced by league President Chuck Murphy. The Johnson Award honors a "complete" baseball franchise that has demonstrated franchise stability and significant contributions to the community, league and the baseball industry. The Miracle were nominated by the Florida State League's Board of Directors and General Managers.
In 2012, the Fort Myers Miracle celebrated its 20th anniversary since arriving from Pompano Beach prior to the 1992 season. As a tribute, at each Friday and Saturday home game, the Miracle wore full throwback uniforms, replicating those worn during the 1992 inaugural season. During the year, fans could bid on the game-worn jerseys, which were auctioned off at the end of the home schedule. The proceeds from the auction benefitted the Dave Clark Foundation, an organization that helps physically and mentally challenged children experience the game of baseball.
Fort Myers also returned original inaugural season promotions and events to Hammond Stadium during the course of the 2012 year. With the franchise's longevity in the area, the Miracle were able to celebrate its two millionth fan and bestowed the lucky ticket holder with a gift package.
In addition to the celebration of 20 years in Southwest Florida, the Miracle refreshed the "Be Your Own Fan" campaign to allow fans to customize their ballpark experience by signing up for select categories that catered to each individual fan's interests.
Using the Lee County Sports Complex and Hammond Stadium as a staging ground, the Miracle were successful in integrating the local community on the grounds by hosting two high school baseball games, as well as a collegiate game.
A hallmark of the Miracle in the Southwest Florida community are creative promotions to engage and entertain the fans at Hammond Stadium. In 2012, the Miracle honored the local teaching community by welcoming actor Dennis Haskins, best known as Mr. Belding from the late 1980's, early 1990's hit "Saved by the Bell." Teachers were admitted free to the game and Haskins signed autographs, threw out the first pitch and sang the "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" during the seventh inning stretch.
Denny McLain, a former 31-game winner and Major League Baseball veteran, also made an appearance at Hammond Stadium in 2012. A controversial and polarizing figure in baseball, McLain interacted with fans by signing autographs and telling stories from the 1968 World Series Champion Detroit Tigers.
In June, the Fort Myers Miracle and the Goldklang Group inducted Dan Jennings, currently the Miami Marlins Assistant General Manager, into the Killebrew Root Beer Scout's Hall of Fame.
Proud partners with over 100 local non-profit efforts in Southwest Florida, the Miracle continued to expand its community footprint with several events both at Hammond Stadium and around the greater Fort Myers area. The Miracle hosted multiple fundraisers on game nights, including Breast Cancer Awareness Night sponsored by Lee Memorial Health System Regional Cancer Care, ALS Night benefitting the ALS Association Florida Chapter, Ed Randall's Bat for the Cure Night for prostate cancer awareness, Lehigh Rotary Bring a Kid to a Game Night, the Fort Myers Track Club with the first ever 5K race held at Lee County Sports Complex and five Dog Daze games presented by the Gulf Coast Humane Society.
The Miracle also hosted non-game day fundraising events such as the seventh annual Special Needs Camp which also benefits the Dave Clark Foundation. The Special Needs Camp allows physically and mentally challenged children to get up-close and personal instruction from the Miracle players.
Tapping into the local community's love of golf, the Miracle hosted a tournament to benefit the Storm Eye Institute at Gateway Country Club. Each group that participated had the opportunity to bid in a silent auction and participate in a few specialty holes that featured sling-shot and baseball bat drives.
The Miracle assisted other local not for profit organizations by staffing concession stands during Minnesota Twins Spring Training and the Miracle season. Organizations that have volunteered to staff these games include the YMCA and Swim Florida.
In addition to fundraising, the Miracle made a concerted and focused effort to personally engage with the community with the "Miracle Cares" initiative. The front office staff, team and coaches combined to assist local causes each month. The "Miracle Cares" team helped feed the homeless at the Everyday Cafe of the Community Cooperative Ministries Incorporated (CCMI), visited the Children's Care Unit at Lee Memorial Health Care at the Health Park and also donated time at the Salvation Army.
The Miracle also volunteered time at the YMCA, Gateway Cares, District 9 Little League Council, Buckingham Little League, Gateway Flag Football League, Child Care of Southwest Florida, Harry Chapin Food Bank, the Southwest Florida Youth Basketball Association and the Junior League of Fort Myers' "Taste of the Town" event.
Organizationally, the Miracle were active in engaging the local youth with involvement in little league opening days, hosting two baseball camps and making the new and improved Kid's Club free to join. The Miracle also hosted Education Day at the ballpark where the game of baseball was used as a platform to expand and enhance the knowledge of area elementary school children.
Throughout the season, the Miracle continued the Baseball Buddies program which allows little league teams to take the field with the players during opening lineup introductions. The Miracle also continued the Books and Bats Summer Reading program, which rewarded children that read over the summer with tickets to games during the season.
In three of the last five seasons, the Miracle have drawn over 120,000 in total attendance and have been in the top-4 in the Florida State League in average attendance for eight consecutive years.
The John H. Johnson President's Award winner will be named in Late November, prior to the Major League Baseball Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tenn.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.