Fort Myers Miracle
|Fort Myers Miracle
Founded in 1926
Fort Myers, Florida
|Minor league affiliations|
|League||Florida State League|
|Major league affiliations|
|Current||Minnesota Twins (1992–present)|
|Minor league titles|
|League titles (6)||
|Division titles (3)||
|First half titles (4)||
|Second half titles (4)||
|Nickname||Fort Myers Miracle|
|Colors||Navy, Red, White
|Ballpark||Hammond Stadium (1992–present)|
|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 Jeff Smith. 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 the Goldklang Group at the beginning of the 2014 season. Musician Jimmy Buffett and actor Bill Murray were minority owners of the team.
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 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 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. They filled their roster with ten former major leaguers looking to rejuvenate their careers with only Dennis Martínez returning to the majors. In 1987, the team moved away from former major leaguers to bring in Japanese stars.
In 1988, the team began the season at Bobby Maduro Miami Stadium, but moved later in the season to the Miami-Hialeah Lakes High School field. The Marlins had per-game attendance totals of approximately 100 fans.
On February 22, 1989, the South Florida Baseball Club Limited Partnership purchased the Marlins and were renamed the Miami Miracle. They moved the team from 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 with some games to be held at Key West High School. South Florida BC LP consisted of Stuart Revo, managing partner, Marvin Goldklang, South Florida commercial real estate developer Michael M. Adler; Potamkin Television, New Age Broadcasting automobile dealership group Potamkin Companies president Alan Potamkin; Sillerman-Magee Communication Management Corp. CEO Robert Sillerman, actor Bill Murray and recording artist Jimmy Buffett. E.J. Narcise was named general manager. While having a partial affiliation with the Cleveland Indians and the Tokyo Giants of the Japanese league, the Miracle were considered an independent entry in the FSL.
The team only received 9 players from the Indians for the 1989 season and had to scramble to find players like pitcher Longo Garcia who was released by the San Francisco Giants organization having been a tenth round draft pick. Jim Gattis was named manager by April 1989.
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, 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.
Miracle in Fort Myers
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 setup 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
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, Florida 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, Florida 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
Fort Myers Miracle roster
- 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, Saúl 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
- 2013 – D.J. Baxendale††, Matt Koch, Zack Jones, Taylor Rogers, Miguel Sano††, Kennys Vargas, Corey Williams
- 2014 – Jose Berrios, David Hurlbut†, Brett Lee†, Adam Brett Walker‡
† Injured & did not play
†† Promoted & did not play
‡ FSL All-Star Game MVP
‡‡ MLB All-Star
- Brad Shellgren (April 28, 2014). "Fort Myers Miracle sold to New Jersey businessman". WZVN, ABC 7.
- Hill, Bob (April 6, 1989). "New Nickname, New Owners, New Field – Same Finish?". Sun Sentinel. Retrieved July 18, 2015.
- Kugiya, Hugo (March 1, 1989). "Marlins Sold". Sun Sentinel. Retrieved July 18, 2015.
- "Fredi González Minor League Statistics & History – Baseball-Reference.com". Sports Reference LLC. December 12, 2013.
- "Miracle, Twins extend Player Development Contract through 2018=www.miraclebaseball.com". September 11, 2014.