Fort Myers Miracle
|Fort Myers Miracle
Founded in 1926
Fort Myers, Florida
|Minor league affiliations|
|Major league affiliations|
|Minor league titles|
|League titles||1969, 1970, 1971, 1972 & 1978|
|Division titles||1995, 2008|
|Owner(s)/Operated by: Goldklang Group|
|Manager: Doug Mientkiewicz|
|General Manager: Steve Gliner|
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 Lee County 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.
Musician Jimmy Buffett and actor Bill Murray have been minority part-owners of the team since 1989. The majority owner is Marvin Goldklang, who also owns a stake in three other minor league baseball teams throughout the country (Hudson Valley Renegades, Charleston RiverDogs, and St. Paul Saints). Murray is also a minority part-owner of the Saints.
The Miracle franchise was founded in 1926, as the Fort Myers Palms. One year later, they 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 1961–1962 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.
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 1971–1981.
Upon the Baltimore Orioles' severing of their affiliation with the Miami Orioles following the 1981 season, the franchise reverted back to the Marlins name, and actually 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 only lasted two years, and the Marlins found themselves again 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 to Florida International University's University Park (the vast majority of their time in Miami, the team played at Miami 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 1992, these new owners returned the Miracle to Fort Myers where it has remained ever since. The Miracle operated as a co-op club with the Minnesota Twins that season, and became a full Twins affiliate a year later. This Player Development Contract runs through 2014.
Since their arrival in Fort Myers, the Miracle have won the FSL's Western division in the first half of the 2003 & 2008 seasons, and won the second half in 1995, 2000 & 2006. They've gone on to win the division in 1995 & 2008, but have yet to win an FSL League championship. For the 2009 season, the Florida State League was realigned, and the Miracle became part of the Southern Division, along with the Charlotte Stone Crabs, Jupiter Hammerheads, Palm Beach Cardinals, St. Lucie Mets and Sarasota Reds. The team notched a franchise first by capturing both the first and second half division crown. They faced the Charlotte Stone Crabs, who finished second both halves, in the South Division Finals. Despite a 14-6 regular season record against the Stone Crabs, the Miracle lost in three games to Charlotte.
Miracle in the media 
In 2009, the Miracle conducted a misguided promotion entitled "What Would Tim Tebow Do?" night. In "tribute" to Tebow's "God-like" status, the Miracle intended to play his September 27, 2008 pledge to his team and Florida Gators fans over the intercom during the game, have a local construction worker named Tim Tebo attempt to walk on water and give out promise rings at the gate to the first 500 fans in attendance. Unamused, the University of Florida ordered the Miracle to cease and desist. The Miracle went along with the promotion, regardless, with the name changed to "What Would T.T. Do?" night. Tim Tebo did not show up, but a character named T.T. attempted to walk on water.
Former Miracle pitcher Dan Naulty is one of the few players mentioned in the Mitchell Report to openly admit to using performance enhancing drugs. His story, and his relationship with his 1994 Miracle teammates was the subject of the cover story of the June 4, 2012 Sports Illustrated.
Fort Myers Miracle roster
FSL All-Stars 
- 1992 - Troy Buckley, Brian Raabe
- 1993 - Brent Brede, Steve Hazlett†, Damian Miller
- 1994 - Gus Gandarillas, Andrew Kontorinis‡, Matt Lawton‡‡, Scott Moten, Chad Roper††
- 1995 - Shane Bowers
- 1996 - Mike Moriarty, Javier Valentín
- 1997 - Chad Allen, Phil Haigler, Jacque Jones, Brad Niedermaier, David Ortiz†† ‡‡, A. J. Pierzynski‡‡
- 1998 - Joe Mays, Chad Moeller, Tommy Peterman‡
- 1999 - Matt LeCroy, Kyle Lohse
- 2000 - Brandon Masters, Juan Rincón, Saul Rivera, Rubén Salazar, Brad Thomas††
- 2001 - Ronnie Corona, Juan Padilla
- 2002 - Beau Kemp, Josh Rabe, Matt Scanlon††
- 2003 - J.D. Durbin, Jason Kubel, Joe Mauer‡‡
- 2004 - Scott Baker††, Travis Bowyer††, Kaulana Kuhaulua, Francisco Liriano, José Morales, Justin Olson
- 2005 - Nick Blackburn, Matt Moses, Denard Span
- 2006 - Alexi Casilla, Matt Garza††, Kyle Geiger, Brandon Roberts, Kevin Slowey
- 2007 - Eddie Morlan, Ryan Mullins††, Oswaldo Sosa
- 2008 - Robert Delaney, Brian Dinkelman, Jeff Manship, Wilson Ramos, Anthony Slama, Rene Tosoni†, Danny Valencia
- 2009 - David Bromberg, Chris Cates, Carlos Gutierrez††, Steven Hirschfeld, Daniel Lehmann††, Chris Parmelee, Ben Revere, Steve Singleton, Spencer Steedley
- 2010 - Billy Bullock, Kyle Gibson††, Chris Herrmann, Yangervis Solarte††
- 2011 - Brian Dozier††, Bruce Pugh††, Danny Rams, Dakota Watts
- 2012 - Ricky Bowen, Pat Dean, Josmil Pinto, Daniel Santana
† Injured & did not play
†† Promoted & did not play
‡ FSL All-Star Game MVP
‡‡ MLB All-Star
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Fort Myers Miracle|
- "Minnesota Twins, Fort Myers Miracle extend player development deal through 2014". Naples Daily News. October 4, 2012.
- "Miracle Notch First in Team History". OurSports Central. September 3, 2009.
- "Miracle bow out of playoffs as Stone Crabs advance to finals". OurSports Central. September 10, 2009.
- "Miracle hosting "What would Tim Tebow do?" Night on Aug. 26". Naples Daily News. August 24, 2009.
- "Top 10 Most Memorable Apologies: 10. Tim Tebow". Real Clear Sports. May 18, 2012.
- "Baseball team changes promotion". ESPN. August 28, 2009.
- George J. Mitchell (December 13, 2007). "Mitchell Report".
- Tom Verducci (June 4, 2012). "To Cheat or Not to Cheat". Sports Illustrated.
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