Fort Myers Miracle

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Fort Myers Miracle
Founded in 1926
Fort Myers, Florida
FortMyersMiracle.png Fort Myers Miracle (cap logo).png
Team logo Cap insignia
Class-level
Current A-Advanced (1990–present)
Previous
Minor league affiliations
League Florida State League
Division South Division
Major league affiliations
Current Minnesota Twins (1992–present)
Previous
Minor league titles
League titles 6 (1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1978, 2014)
Division titles

3 (1995, 2008, 2014)

Team data
Nickname Fort Myers Miracle
Previous names
Fort Myers Palms (1926), Miami Hustlers, (19271928), Miami Marlins (19621970, 19821988), Miami Orioles (19711981), Miami Miracle (19891991)
Colors Navy, Red, White
              
Ballpark Hammond Stadium (1992–Present)
Previous parks

Pompano Beach Municipal Stadium

(1990–1991)
FIU Baseball Stadium
(1989)
Bobby Maduro Miami Stadium
(1962–1988)
Miami Field
(1927-28)
Terry Park Ballfield
(1926)
Owner(s)/
Operator(s)
SJS Beacon
Manager Doug Mientkiewicz
General manager Andrew Seymour

The Fort Myers Miracle is the Class A Advanced minor league baseball affiliate of the Minnesota Twins Major League Baseball club, based in Fort Myers, Florida and currently managed by Doug Mientkiewicz. Home games are played at the CenturyLink Sports Complex in Hammond Stadium, which has a capacity of 7,500, and opened in 1991. The park is also used as the Minnesota Twins' Spring Training facility. Prior to Twins Spring Training and the 2014 Florida State League season, Phase I of a two-part renovation was completed with the addition of an outfield boardwalk. The second phase of the renovation, which includes new sky suites, concessions, wider concourses and new offices for the Miracle staff, will be completed before Spring Training in 2015. Due to the start of construction on Phase II in August 2014, the Miracle played the final 10 home dates, including playoffs, at JetBlue Park.

The majority owner is SJS Beacon, a privately held company managed by Jason Hochberg, who purchased the club from Marvin Goldklang at the beginning of the 2014 season.[1] Musician Jimmy Buffett and actor Bill Murray were minority owners of the team.

History[edit]

The Miracle franchise was founded in 1926, as the Fort Myers Palms. One year later, the team moved to Miami, Florida and were renamed the Miami Hustlers. The team became temporarily inactive, with the rest of the Florida State League, midway through the 1928 season. Even though the Florida State League resumed play in 1936, the Hustlers remained inactive until they were reactivated by the FSL during the 19611962 offseason to serve as the Class D affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies. The team was renamed the Miami Marlins in honor of the original Marlins of the Triple-A International League who had moved to San Juan, Puerto Rico (and subsequently Charleston, South Carolina) following the 1960 season.

Before embarking on his Hall of Fame career with the Baltimore Orioles, Cal Ripken, Jr was a member of the Miami Orioles

In 1963, there was a restructuring of the classification system of all Minor League Baseball, which resulted in the FSL changing from Class D to its current status of Class A-Advanced. They became a Baltimore Orioles affiliate in 1966, and were renamed the Miami Orioles after their MLB parent club from 19711981.

Upon the Baltimore Orioles' severing of their affiliation with the Miami Orioles following the 1981 season, the franchise reverted to the Marlins name and participated in the 1982 FSL season as an independent entry. Without a Major League affiliate, this team was composed of undrafted players from the area, free agents from various organizations and players on loan from the Baltimore Orioles, San Diego Padres, and Oakland A's organizations.

The following season the Miami Marlins became a San Diego Padres affiliate. This partnership lasted two years and the Marlins were without a parent club for the 1985 season. Again, they filled their roster with talent on loan from various organizations, along with eleven former major leaguers looking to rejuvenate their careers. They stuck with this formula through the 1991 season.

In 1989, the Marlins were renamed the Miami Miracle after a group of investors that included Bill Murray and Jimmy Buffett purchased the club. They moved the team from Bobby Maduro Miami Stadium, which the team had called home for the vast majority of its time in South Florida, to Florida International University's University Park.

Hammond Stadium

The Miracle were sold again a year later to the Marv Goldklang Group. Mike Veeck (son of Hall of Fame inductee Bill Veeck, and author of the book, Fun is Good) also became part owner of the organization while Murray and Buffett still maintained their shares as well.

In 1990, the team moved again, playing its home games at Pompano Beach Municipal Stadium. The team spent two seasons in Pompano Beach with future big league skipper Fredi Gonzalez at the helm.[2]

In 1992, with the impending arrival of MLB's Florida Marlins, the Goldklang Group returned the Miracle to Fort Myers. The Miracle operated as a co-op club with the Minnesota Twins that season, and became a full Twins affiliate a year later. The current Player Development Contract runs through 2018.[3]

Miracle in Fort Myers[edit]

The 2008 1st & 2nd half Western Division champions take the field in game 2 of the playoffs at Hammond Stadium

Since moving to Fort Myers for the 1992 season, the Miracle have qualified for the Florida State League Playoffs eight times. The Miracle won the FSL West Division first half in 2003 and 2008 and the FSL West second half in 1995, 2000 and 2006. In 2009, the Florida State League adopted a North-South set up of divisions. In that year, the Miracle won both the FSL South first and second half under manager Jeff Smith. Despite a regular season record of 80-58 and winning game one of a best-of-three series on the road, the Charlotte Stone Crabs defeated the Miracle in games two and three.

After a three season hiatus, the Miracle returned to the FSL Playoffs under first-year manager Doug Mientkiewicz. Guiding a star-studded team of Twins prospects such as Miguel Sano, Kennys Vargas and Eddie Rosario, the Miracle won the first half in the FSL South with a 45-22 record. The 45 wins tied the franchise record for the most in a single half and the winning percentage of .672 marked the best for a half in team history. Posting the best overall record in the Florida State League at 79-56 during the regular season, the Miracle again fell to the Stone Crabs in the FSL South Divisional Playoff. Charlotte held the league-best Fort Myers offense, that included the consensus top prospect in baseball Byron Buxton, to just one run in a two-game sweep.

2014 Championship Season[edit]

Entering the 2014 season, the Miracle had appeared in the Florida State League Championship series twice; losing to the Daytona Cubs in 1995 and 2008. For a second consecutive season, Mientkiewicz led the Miracle to a first half title in the FSL South, narrowly edging the St. Lucie Mets by one game in the standings with a final day win, 4-0, over the Bradenton Marauders. Fort Myers finished with a first half record of 41-28 with a roster featuring top prospects Jose Berrios, Jorge Polanco and Adam Brett Walker. During the 2014 campaign, Walker broke the Miracle franchise record for home runs in a season with 25; previously held by Brock Peterson with 21 in 2006. Walker was also a 2014 FSL All-Star Game MVP and Home Run Derby Champion at the 2014 FSL All-Star Game in Bradenton, Fla. at McKechnie Field. In the second half, the Miracle posted a record of 41-29 for an overall mark of 82-57, second-best in team history.

In the FSL South Divisional Playoff, the Miracle faced Bradenton. Trailing 7-3 in the top of the fourth inning, Jason Kanzler hit an opposite field grand slam to tie the game in the first of a best-of-three series. After the fifth inning, play was halted for 58 minutes due to rain. When the game resumed in the top of the sixth, Dalton Hicks drove in the eventual game-winning run with a single. The Miracle won game one, 8-7, and Kanzler had six runs batted in. In game two, the Miracle scored six runs in the bottom of the third inning to take 6-1 lead. Miracle starter D.J. Baxendale earned the win with six innings allowing just one unearned run and five strikeouts. After a two-game sweep of the Marauders, the Miracle advanced to the FSL Championship series for the third time in team history.

Facing the Cubs again, the Miracle hosted the first two games of the best-of-five series at JetBlue Park. The Miracle pitching staff allowed just one run in a pair of wins. Fort Myers took game one, 5-1, and game two, 5-0. With a 2-0 series lead for the Miracle, the Cubs staved off elimination in game three at Jackie Robinson Ballpark in Daytona, Fla. After a two-hour, seven-minute delay, the Cubs and Miracle engaged in a back-and-forth battle with Daytona eventually going on to win, 8-7. The Cubs trailed 6-5 in the bottom of the eighth inning, but took the lead on a three-run homer by Wilson Contreras. After the Cubs' win, the two teams had to wait a day after heavy storms made the field in Daytona unplayable. On Monday, September 8, the Miracle and Cubs played game four. Fort Myers built a 2-0 lead midway through the fourth inning. Daytona tied the game in the sixth. Going into extra innings, Kanzler gave the Miracle a 4-2 lead with a two-run homer in the top of the eleventh. Zack Jones recorded a perfect ninth inning, striking out Contreras for the save. The FSL Championship was the first in team history since moving to Fort Myers in 1992. The series win also marked the first time the Daytona Cubs had lost a FSL Playoff series.

Miracle in the Media[edit]

The Miracle's name and logo appeared in the 1998 film Major League: Back to the Minors. Gus Cantrell (Scott Bakula) pitched for the Miracle before retiring to become the manager of the Buzz.

Roster[edit]

In 1982, Jose Canseco was an Oakland A's farmhand on loan to the Miami Marlins
Fort Myers Miracle roster
Players Coaches/Other

Pitchers

  • 31 D.J. Baxendale Injury icon 2.svg
  • 21 Madison Boer
  • 35 Brian Gilbert
  • 33 Steven Gruver
  • 43 B. J. Hermsen
  • 45 David Hurlbut Injury icon 2.svg
  • 38 D.J. Johnson
  • 37 Tyler Jones
  • -- Zack Jones Injury icon 2.svg
  • 22 Brett Lee
  • 40 Ethan Mildren
  • 24 Alex Muren
  • 44 Brandon Peterson
  • 19 Tim Shibuya Injury icon 2.svg
  • 32 Aaron Slegers
  • 18 Matt Tomshaw
  • 27 Todd Van Steel
  • -- Corey Williams Injury icon 2.svg

Catchers

Infielders

Outfielders

Manager

Coaches


Injury icon 2.svg 7-day disabled list
* On Minnesota Twins 40-man roster
∞ Reserve list
§ Suspended list
‡ Restricted list
# Rehab assignment
Roster updated August 10, 2014
Transactions
More MiLB rosters
Minnesota Twins minor league players

FSL All-Stars[edit]

Joe Mauer was a 2003 FSL All-Star for the Fort Myers Miracle

† Injured & did not play
†† Promoted & did not play
‡ FSL All-Star Game MVP
‡‡ MLB All-Star

Miss-A-Miracle poses for a picture with some young fans

References[edit]

External links[edit]