Fort Myers Miracle

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Fort Myers Miracle
Founded in 1926
Fort Myers, Florida
FortMyersMiracle.pngFort Myers Miracle (cap logo).png
Team logoCap insignia
Class-level
CurrentA-Advanced (1990–present)
Previous
Minor league affiliations
LeagueFlorida State League
DivisionSouth Division
Major league affiliations
CurrentMinnesota Twins (1992–present)
Previous
Minor league titles
League titles (7)
  • 1969
  • 1970
  • 1971
  • 1972
  • 1978
  • 2014
  • 2018
Division titles (4)
  • 1995
  • 2008
  • 2014
  • 2018
First half titles (4)
  • 2003
  • 2008
  • 2009
  • 2014
Second half titles (5)
  • 1995
  • 2000
  • 2006
  • 2009
  • 2018
Team data
NicknameFort Myers Miracle
Previous names
  • Fort Myers Palms (1926)
  • Miami Hustlers (1927–28)
  • Miami Marlins (1962–70) and (1982–88)
  • Miami Orioles (1971–81)
  • Miami Miracle (1989–91)
ColorsNavy, Red, White
              
BallparkHammond Stadium (1992–present)
Previous parks
Owner(s)/
Operator(s)
SJS Beacon/
Goldklang Group
ManagerRamon Borrego
General ManagerChris Peters

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. 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, was 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.[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.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed] They filled their roster with ten former major leaguers looking to rejuvenate their careers, including Derrel Thomas, who made it back to MLB later that season with the Philadelphia Phillies. The Marlins continued this practice though the 1988 season. One of their signees in 1987, Dennis Martínez, also returned to MLB, signing with the Montreal Expos later that season. In 1987, the team started receiving some players on loan from the Tokyo Giants. This lasted though the 1988 season.[2]

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.[3] The Marlins had per-game attendance totals of approximately 100 fans.[2]

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.[2][3] 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.[3]

The team received only nine 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.[2]

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 González at the helm.[4]

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.[5]

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 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[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, 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.

Season-by-season[edit]

These statistics are current through the 2018 season, and include only seasons dating back to when the team was first called the Miracle.

League champions Finals appearance * Division winner ^ Wild card berth ¤
Year League Division Regular season Post-season
1st half 2nd half
Finish Wins Losses Win% GB Finish Wins Losses Win% GB
Miami Miracle
1989 FSL East 5th 16 53 .232 25.5 4th 27 38 .415 10.5
1990 FSL East 5th 15 54 .217 34.5 4th 29 39 .426 16
1991 FSL East 2nd 35 29 .547 6.5 4th 28 38 .424 13.5
Fort Myers Miracle
1992 FSL West 6th 22 47 .319 28 6th 24 38 .387 15.5
1993 FSL West 6th 27 39 .409 16 6th 28 40 .412 17
1994 FSL West 2nd 41 27 .603 3.5 6th 30 36 .455 12
1995 FSL West 6th 34 34 .500 6 1st ^ 41 21 .661 Won semifinals (Tampa) 2–1
Lost finals (Daytona) 2–3 *
1996 FSL West 4th 36 32 .529 7 2nd 43 26 .623 0.5
1997 FSL West 3rd 41 28 .594 1.5 2nd 40 30 .571 4
1998 FSL West 7th 30 39 .435 16 6th 35 34 .507 11
1999 FSL West 8th 25 44 .362 21 5th 35 35 .500 7
2000 FSL West 2nd 38 32 .543 2.5 1st ^ 45 25 .643 Lost semifinals (Dunedin) 0–2
2001 FSL West 4th 32 36 .471 3 3rd 36 33 .522 10.5
2002 FSL West 2nd 40 32 .556 3 2nd 37 30 .552 7.5
2003 FSL West 1st ^ 44 26 .629 6th 29 37 .439 9 Lost semifinals (Dunedin) 1–2
2004 FSL West 4th 31 37 .456 9 5th 30 37 .448 9
2005 FSL West 3rd 37 27 .578 6.5 3rd 37 32 .536 4.5
2006 FSL West 2nd 38 32 .543 [a] 1st ^ 42 28 .600 Lost semifinals (Dunedin) 1–2
2007 FSL West 5th 30 40 .429 13 4th 40 30 .571 4
2008 FSL West 1st ^ 45 24 .652 3rd 32 35 .478 15.5 Won semifinals (Dunedin) 2–0
Lost finals (Daytona) 1–3
2009 FSL South 1st ^ 43 26 .623 1st ^ 37 32 .536 Lost semifinals (Charlotte) 1–2
2010 FSL South 5th 28 42 .400 15.5 2nd 36 32 .529 1
2011 FSL South 2nd 34 36 .486 4 5th 29 40 .420 16
2012 FSL South 5th 28 39 .418 20.5 4th 32 36 .471 7
2013 FSL South 1st ^ 45 22 .672 4th 34 34 .500 5.5 Lost semifinals (Charlotte) 0–2
2014 FSL South 1st ^ 41 28 .594 2nd 41 29 .586 2 Won semifinals (Bradenton) 2–0
Won finals (Daytona) 3–1 †
2015 FSL South 2nd 38 32 .543 7 3rd 38 31 .551 5.5
2016 FSL South 3rd 34 35 .493 4.5 3rd 36 33 .522 3.5
2017 FSL South 5th 33 35 .485 7.5 1st ^ 42 25 .627 Lost semifinals (Palm Beach) 0–2
2018 FSL South 5th 28 40 .412 13 1st ^ 40 29 .580 Won semifinals (Palm Beach) 2–0
Won finals (Daytona) 3–1 †
  • a The Miracle finished with the same record as the Dunedin Blue Jays, but since the Blue Jays had the better head-to-head record in the first half (4–2), the Miracle did not win the division.
Statistic Wins Losses Win %
All-time regular season record (1989–2018) 2,062 2,030 .504
Postseason record (1989–2018) 20 21 .488
All-time regular and postseason record 2,082 2,051 .504

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

  •  5 Brady Anderson
  • 21 Charlie Barnes
  • 26 Clark Beeker
  • -- Adam Bray
  • 31 Andro Cutura
  • 32 Colton Davis
  • -- Brusdar Graterol
  • 38 Tom Hackimer
  • 24 Griffin Jax
  • 35 Hector Lujan
  • 33 Kevin Marnon Injury icon 2.svg
  • 39 Ryan Mason
  • 36 Alex Robinson
  • 27 Ervin Santana #
  • -- Lachlan Wells Injury icon 2.svg
  • 40 Tyler Wells

Catchers

  • 22 Taylor Grzelakowski
  • 20 Caleb Hamilton
  • 15 Ben Rortvedt

Infielders

Outfielders


Manager

  • 23 Ramon Borrego

Coaches

  • 18 Henry Bonilla (pitching)
  • 25 Steve Singleton (hitting)


Injury icon 2.svg 7-day disabled list
* On Minnesota Twins 40-man roster
# Rehab assignment
∞ Reserve list
‡ Restricted list
§ Suspended list
† Temporary inactive list
Roster updated June 29, 2018
Transactions
→ More rosters: MiLB • Florida State League
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

Notable Franchise alumni[edit]

Baseball Hall of Fame franchise alumni

Notable alumni

References[edit]

  1. ^ Brad Shellgren (April 28, 2014). "Fort Myers Miracle sold to New Jersey businessman". WZVN, ABC 7.
  2. ^ a b c d Hill, Bob (April 6, 1989). "New Nickname, New Owners, New Field – Same Finish?". Sun Sentinel. Retrieved July 18, 2015.
  3. ^ a b c Kugiya, Hugo (March 1, 1989). "Marlins Sold". Sun Sentinel. Retrieved July 18, 2015.
  4. ^ "Fredi González Minor League Statistics & History – Baseball-Reference.com". Sports Reference LLC. December 12, 2013.
  5. ^ "Miracle, Twins extend Player Development Contract through 2018=www.miraclebaseball.com". September 11, 2014.

External links[edit]