CLEARWATER, Fla. (October 12, 2016) - The Florida State League honored the Fort Myers Miracle with the League's nomination for the Larry MacPhail Promotional Trophy, which is given for outstanding promotional work during the season.
One overall winner will be selected prior to this year's annual Baseball Winter Meetings in National Harbor, Maryland on December 4-8 at Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center. All 15 Minor League Baseball leagues will have a nominee. The Miracle were selected by the Florida State League's Directors and General Managers.
The Larry MacPhail Award is bestowed to the team that demonstrates outstanding, creative marketing and promotional efforts within the community, ballpark and through the media.
"With the devoted support of our fans in Southwest Florida and an owner that backs our every move, we excelled across the board this season," said Miracle General Manager Andrew Seymour. "Our owner Jason Hochberg, Chief Operating Officer Steve Gliner, Field Manager Jeff Smith, our entire creative front office and our gameday workers combined to make our season a success for our terrific fan base. 'Hats off' to all of them as 2016 truly was an All-Star season!"
In 2016, the Miracle welcomed 124,273 fans through the gates at Hammond Stadium over the course of 65 openings while drawing an average attendance of 1,912 per game. On Opening Weekend, the Miracle drew over 10,600 fans on two dates including a spectacular fireworks show with over 8,000 in attendance on April 8.
Later in April, the Miracle began a Star-Studded summer with professional wrestlers WWE Hall of Famer Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake and Bushwacker Luke appearing at the ballpark to sign autographs. Greg "The Hammer" Valentine was originally scheduled, but due to a discrepancy with Brutus Beefcake straight out of a wrestling program's script, refused to appear alongside his former tag team partner.
The celebrity theme continued in early May when the Miracle welcomed the original Engleberg from the Bad News Bears, Gary Lee Cavagnaro, to Hammond Stadium presented by Panini America. Two weeks later on May 20, the one and only Greg Brady from The Brady Bunch, actor Barry Williams, traveled to Fort Myers for a night of 70's fun presented by Good Deals Appliances. In June, the Miracle wrapped up the Star-Studded summer with the infamous Soup Nazi from Seinfeld. On a night where every strikeout prompted the public address to echo with "No soup for you," "You're pushing your luck little man," and "Next!" sound bites, actor Larry Thomas signed everything from soup ladles to armoires for fans in Fort Myers.
Midway through the summer, Fort Myers became the focal point of the Florida State League and Minor League Baseball with the hosting of the FSL All-Star Game for the first time since 2009 and the first MiLB All-Star Game of the 2016 season.
On Friday night, players, coaching staffs and executives from around the FSL gathered at Harborside Events Center in downtown Fort Myers for an evening to honor the All-Stars from the North and South Divisions. Each member of the All-Star team was individually honored while Miracle owner Jason Hochberg, Florida State League President Ken Carson and Lee County Manager Roger Desjarlais spoke to the attendees. After dinner, guest of honor and Minnesota Twins Hall of Fame broadcaster John Gordon and Miracle broadcaster Brice Zimmerman had a conversation about Gordon's decorated career behind the microphone.
On Saturday, the Miracle opened the gates to Hammond Stadium at 4:30 p.m. for a full-scale autograph session for fans. At 5:15 p.m., the Interstate Batteries Home Run Derby began with Mitch Walding from the Clearwater Threshers winning the crown in dramatic fashion to the delight of the fans. The All-Star Game began at 7:05 p.m. with full decorum for the Mid-Summer Classic and mid-inning entertainment from X-Pogo. The 2016 All-Star Game drew 5,102 fans and featured the largest and longest postgame fireworks show in Hammond Stadium history.
The 2016 season also saw the return of BOBBLECTION with the Miracle hosting the Florida leg of the nationwide campaign. Fans that entered Hammond Stadium were given a ballot and could select Republican nominee Donald Trump, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton or "other." A vote for Trump or Clinton resulted in fans getting a bobblehead of that candidate's likeness. If "other" was selected, then those fans received a special ticket to a Third Party Party with a delicious All You Can Eat menu and the chance to win a Jill Stein stein or Johnson's care package.
Miracle mascot Sway and players visited schools, hospitals, camps and little leagues. The team marched in local parades and also worked on community projects. In May, the Miracle hosted the eleventh annual Special Needs Camp with Dave Clark Baseball. Children with special needs flocked to Hammond Stadium to receive personal instruction form the players and coaching staff.
Throughout the summer, the Miracle partnered with Keep On Playing and the Lee County Boys and Girls Club to provide clinics for underprivileged area youth. After donating baseball equipment last season, four Keep On Playing clinics with Miracle players and staff helped keep kids coming back to the field, picking up a glove and playing baseball.
Over 65 openings, the Miracle hosted numerous pregame demonstrations and anthem performances from local organizations and schools. Local radio legends Stan and Haney teamed with the Miracle to raise over $2,000 for the D.R.A.F.T. fund with a baseball card giveaway.
The Fort Myers Miracle are the Class A Advanced minor league baseball affiliate of the Minnesota Twins Major League Baseball Club. Since moving to Fort Myers in 1992, the Miracle have qualified for the Florida State League Playoffs eight times and won the Florida State League Championship in 2014. Home games are played at Hammond Stadium at the CenturyLink Sports Complex. The Miracle season begins in April and ends in September. For a game and events schedule, or more information, visit www.miraclebaseball.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.