Fort Myers Miracle renamed Mighty Mussels
By CJ HADDAD
Fans attending Florida State League baseball games at Hammond Stadium next year can expect to see the same great talent, but with a new look.
The Fort Myers Miracle are now the Fort Myers Mighty Mussels, announced the owner of the club, Andrew Kaufmann, Tuesday at the ballpark. The team will remain the Class-A Advanced affiliate of the Minnesota Twins.
“This is an exciting moment in Southwest Florida’s sports history,” Kaufmann said. “Miracle fans are known around the Florida State League for their unwavering support, and we are confident they’ll be eager to show off their ‘Mighty Mussels’ when the season begins in April.”
Kaufmann, CEO and owner of Zawyer Sports, who took over ownership of the team in January, announced the name change at Hammond Stadium alongside Lee County elected officials, community leaders, sponsors and ticket holders.
The team’s new colors include Twins Navy, Gulf Purple, Sunset Lavender, Golden Sun, Yellow Sand and Sky Blue. The new logo is of a characterized mussel coming out of its shell, holding a baseball bat in one muscular arm and “calling it’s shot” with the other.
Alternate hats show two mussels arm wrestling and one features the Mighty Mussel curling a dumbbell with baseballs as weights.
“It’s a new era of baseball here in Fort Myers and Southwest Florida,” Kaufmann said. “Mighty Mussels — we’re very excited. We feel that we’re representing the identity of Southwest Florida. We love the Miracle and we love this history, but, the Miracle originated in Miami, and we’re in Southwest Florida and Fort Myers and we want to be Mighty Mussels.”
Zawyer Sports President Bob Ohrablo said the name change is one that fits the area.
“The name ‘Mighty Mussels’ conveys a sense of strength and fortitude while being reflective of the natural environment that surrounds us, and Southwest Florida deserves a team name that establishes its own identity,” Ohrablo said.
Kaufmann said the name came about after a day at the beach with ownership.
“We kicked around a few ideas and as we were talking about what (ownership) saw on the beach that day — mussels came up, and we were like, ‘Wait a minute, that’s a lot of fun, right?’ And we thought about the colors that you could see with the sun reflection, with the purple and the orange and the light blue and it kind of all just made sense pretty quick.
“This is this community’s team and we wanted the name to represent that, but there’s also a lot of other meanings behind the name,” Kaufmann said. “It represents obviously — fun, but there’s also fitness — that’s on the front of our mind. It’s a family deal, and we’re trying to send good messages to kids as well.”
The franchise began in 1926 as the Fort Myers Palms, a name that paid tribute to the city’s stately royal palm trees paid for by Fort Myers’ polarizing winter resident, Thomas Edison. Over the years, the team changed locations and affiliations many times. Names have included the Miami Hustlers, Miami Marlins, Miami Orioles and Miami Miracle — before the team moved back to Fort Myers in 1992. It kept the Miracle name, though, which is believed to have originated from Miami’s famed Miracle Mile shopping and business district in Coral Gables.
According to a press release from the team, the rebranding process began in May when Jason Klein and Casey White, co-founders of the California-based marketing firm Brandiose, met with team ownership, Miracle fans, staff and community members to learn about the stories, history and personality of Fort Myers. Brandiose developed the logos, color combination, uniforms and mascot.
“Southwest Florida captures the imagination for all who visit or call this home,” Klein said. “Our goal is to integrate Fort Myers folklore into the Mussels brand, and to create the most legendary entertainment experience in the region.”
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation, more than 60 species of mussels and clams live in Florida’s freshwaters, and their filter-feeding activity helps cleanse water by removing bacteria, algae and organic material.
Kaufmann said home games will still be full of fun and entertainment throughout the season.
“You can expect that, and a lot more,” Kaufmann said. “We’re actually going to be doing something new every day of the week. Saturday, we’re actually going to have fireworks, so instead of having fireworks one night a week, we’re going to have it Friday and Saturday. The rest we’ll release as we get closer to the season. We want this to be a very special place to continue the tradition but also some new excitement in the community.”
There’s even talks of a “Flex Cam” at games for fans to show off their mighty muscles.
“We are confident the Mighty Mussels name will spark even more fan support, and we’ve even talked about a Flex Cam at the ballpark to capture fans flexing during the game,” said Judd Loveland, who recently was promoted to general manager of the Mighty Mussels in charge of team operations and day-to-day stadium operations. “We can’t wait for opening day on April 9.”
Mighty Mussels merchandise, including T-shirts and hats, are available for purchase in the Team Store at Hammond Stadium, as well as online at MightyMussels.com.
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