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Sam Price leaves behind legacy of helping youth

By Staff | Mar 14, 2018

PHOTO PROVIDED While Sam Price lived on the island he coached and managed a baseball team, which was referred to as the "Bad News Bears."

A businessman who was dedicated to the youngsters of the island passed away Feb. 16, leaving behind fond memories for some of the island’s ball players.

Sam Price, originally from Brooklyn, New York, moved to Sanibel with his family. Richie Price, Price’s son, said they moved to the island in early 1972 after living in Tampa.

“I was 11 and a half years old. We grew up on the island. I was an island kid,” he said.

Born on Oct. 8, 1939, Price owned many island businesses during the ’70s and ’80s. The businesses included Primo’s Island Pizza, Casa del Mama, Sam’s Meats, a butcher shop, Flamingo Cafeteria and PJ’s Motorcycle Rentals.

“My dad had the first pizza place out there,” he said. “We dibbled in a lot of things.”

In addition to having many businesses, Price said his father was the first guy to start a rec center for the youth at the island’s Episcopal church. He said his father wanted to put some pinball machines and a pool table together in a game room to keep the children out of trouble.

“That ran for about two years or so,” he said.

After Casa del Mama began, his father put together a baseball team.

“We were the original Bad News Bears,” he said laughing. “There were so many races (on the team.)”

Price said playing on the team was fun, although they did not win a lot of games.

Since Sanibel baseball only had teams for Little League players, Price said his father picked up the youth and loaded them in his van and took them straight to Page Field where there was a baseball park.

“He put a lot into coaching. He did it for the kids. We played two games a week. Tim Irving helped my father out. He was the assistant coach,” he said.

Price said his father always gave 110 percent to everything.

“To see what my pop did was pretty neat,” he said.

While living on the island, Price said his father donated a lot, as well as met up with a bunch of guys to have coffee at Coconut Grove.

“The old dudes got up early and had coffee and just talked about everything going on,” he said.

Some of Price’s fond memories of growing up on the island included going out on the boat fishing with his family.

“I’m a charter guide, so something must have come out of that,” he said.

Price’s father lived on the island from 1972 to 1987. Once he decided to retire, he moved to Pennsylvania because he wanted to try something different – to live in the mountains.

“Ten years ago when he left, he went to Pennsylvania and he was literally in the clouds,” he said.

His father ended up moving back to the Southwest Florida to live in North Fort Myers when he could not take the cold anymore.

Price is survived by his sister, Marguerite; son, Richie; daughter, Jan; and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren. A celebration of life will be held on March 18 from 2 to 6 p.m. at 715 Hutto Road, North Fort Myers. For more information, call Richie Price at 239-209-1091.