10th of Apr | Story

For fun of the game


FORT MYERS, Florida | Andrew Seymour is a fast talker. When he starts talking baseball, his words and thoughts fly, it’s partially because of his love for the sport and partially because he’s always selling.

Originally from Canada, he’s spent nearly two decades in the front offices of minor league and independent baseball teams in Canada and Texas, but mostly here with the Fort Myers Miracle. Mike Veeck, executive advisor to the chairman for the Miracle and its parent company, Goldklang Group, hired Seymour as a college intern with the Miracle. Now, Seymour is vice president and general manager.

While his responsibilities have changed over the years, his basic premise of selling, brining in fans, hasn’t.

I finished up in Toronto at George Brown College with a sports marketing degree.

I called up Mike Veeck, and I called up 400 other teams. When I say ‘called them up,’ this was back in the early ’90s, so you still had long-distance fees. I would hand write letters to everybody, and I remember those that wrote me one back. I got some standard rejection letters, and what have you. But Mike Veeck called me back.

I did visit this place, I came down to see it. It really was alluring, this place, when I first saw it and I read all about it.

I drove down here and met with him and he said, ‘It’s what you make of it Andrew.’ And I said, ‘OK.’

He said to me, ‘Look people in the eye. Don’t wear sunglasses, you don’t need sunglasses.’ I actually didn’t wear sunglasses. I don’t wear sunglasses.

We always say this in spring training: the most important customer is the one in front of you. It has to be that way because this market is very transient until about Easter, and then you’ve got to have that loyal connection with people.

Competitively, you have to know what’s going on in your marketplace, but I also have to know how to capture the different (audiences), whether it’s pugs – pug dogs, there’s clubs for that – stitch and pitch, there’s clubs for quilting and scrap booking, something that might not be an A to me. That’s all right if we can capture that interest, and make it a good time.

In this area, it’s all young families. In spring training it’s a lot of devoted fans and fans that travel down from the north. After that, it’s people looking for entertainment, the value, the price point. Each night we have something. Tonight is two-for-one Tuesday.

It’s a simple premise: Create fun, deliver fun and, hopefully, people come back. Mike always says, ‘Create a carnival atmosphere and, oh, by the way, there’s a baseball game as the centerpiece, in the middle of it.’

Whenever we talk to, let’s say inspiring interns – I hate to use that word, I really do – but whenever someone comes here looking for information, I always say to them, ‘You’re not going to get rich doing this, but you will get your hand in a lot of different things – rich in experience, not at the bank right away.’ Your results are a product of your efforts. In the end, we all become salespeople. And I don’t want to take the love out of it, but that’s how you make your mark, on sales.

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Time for some Miracle trivia. In 2003, his only full season in Fort Myers, catcher Joe Mauer led the Miracle with a .335 batting average in 62 games. What fellow future Minnesota Twin led the Miracle in runs batted in that season?

The Miracle played their second extra-inning game in three days, this time getting the win, 3-2, in the bottom of the 13th after centerfielder Daniel Rohlfing scored from third on a wild pitch by Jupiter Hammerheads reliever Sean Donatello. Rohlfing started the season 0-for-11, but broke out of his slump with an RBI double in the eighth that tied the game at 2-2, and his one-out double in the 13th started the game-winning rally.

While this was the Miracle’s second extra-innings game this season, this was our first and our longest – it lasted 3 hours and 33 minutes. After six games, we have seen exactly 17 hours of baseball.

The Miracle are celebrating their 20th anniversary this year and to celebrate, the team is wearing throwback uniforms. The Miracle will switch from red, white and navy to their 1992 colors of teal and yellow for Friday and Saturday home games.

Yes, fans bounce on inflatable horses down the first base line at Hammond Stadium, but its horse racing doesn’t compare to Churchill Downs, which its exterior façade was designed after. Home to both the Miracle and its parent affiliate, the Minnesota Twins, during spring training, Hammond Stadium is also known for the large waterfall fountain at its entrance.

Want the answer? Former Minnesota Twins outfielder Jason Kubel finished the 2003 season with 82 RBI to lead the Miracle. Kubel also batted .298 and hit five home runs in 116 games during his only stint in Fort Myers.

And in random statistical news, the game started two minutes later than the scheduled time, the first pitch was a ball, the first batter grounded out and a live organ rendition of the “Star-Spangled Banner” lasted 1 minute, 14.8 seconds. Also, we ate one bratwurst and a soft pretzel, both accented with Stadium Mustard. Delicious.

Carolyn@AMinorLeagueSeason.com ♦ @CarolynLaWell ♦ @AMinorLgSeason


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