UPDATE: Annual Islands Night rescheduled; tickets still valid
UPDATE: The Annual Sam Bailey’s Islands Night scheduled for June 16, featuring the Fort Myers Mighty Mussels versus the Lakeland Flying Tigers, was postponed due to rain. Islands Night has been rescheduled for the June 30 game against the Bradenton Marauders. Tickets to the rained out game will be accepted for entry to the new game, without exchanges or such needed.
ORIGINAL (June 11, 2021):
Island tradition features baseball and camaraderie for community
Tickets to the Annual Sam Bailey’s Islands Night are available throughout the community.
For this year’s game, the Fort Myers Mighty Mussels will go up against the Lakeland Flying Tigers on June 16 at 7 p.m. at the Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers. The gates will open at 6 p.m.
The tradition was started over two decades ago by Sam Bailey, whose descendants own and operate Bailey’s General Store on Sanibel, The Island Store on Captiva and the Sanibel Catering Company by Bailey’s. Bailey wanted to get the whole island together in one place and came up with the ballpark.
According to his family, Bailey approached the former Fort Myers Miracle organization about sponsoring a game. He was able to negotiate the deal, but then had to figure out how to pay for it.
Bailey worked with his brother, Francis, and the chamber of commerce. Island businesses were encouraged to help sponsor the game for just $100 and to invite everyone to attend. With a successful response, he was able to collect enough to rent out the stadium, plus give back to the community.
In 2004, the event was renamed Sam Bailey’s Islands Night in honor of him.
“It’s one of our greatest traditions as a baseball club,” Fort Myers Mighty Mussels President Chris Peters said. “It’s always been one of our biggest and favorite nights of the year.”
Thanks to the continuing sponsorship of island businesses every year, tickets to the game are free. Tickets can be picked up at the service desk at Bailey’s or from any of the sponsor businesses.
“They’ll be available from the sponsors of the night,” he said.
Before the first pitch is thrown, the sponsors typically have the chance to take part in a themed parade of floats around the field. Lasting for up to an hour, there is candy, laughter and fun for attendees.
“We, unfortunately, can’t do the parade on the field because of the protocols in place,” Peters said of this year’s game and the safety measures put in place for the teams and players in light of the pandemic.
“The parade should return next year hopefully,” he added.
Although the event will look a little different this year, there will still be entertainment.
“We have all kinds of in-game promos going on all night long,” Peters said.
He noted that hot dogs will only be $1.
Through beer sales and such, proceeds are raised to benefit the Islands Night fund. The monies from the fund are distributed every year to island organizations and help to support local scholarships.
The community is invited to grab tickets for a night of baseball and island camaraderie.
“We want to celebrate the history of Islands Night and keep it going,” Peters said. “We love it. It’s a lot of fun having all of our friends from the islands come out.”
Calli Johnson, Bailey’s great-niece, echoed that.
“We are excited to continue the Islands Night tradition with the capable leadership of the Mighty Mussels,” she said. “See you at the ball game, neighbors!”
For up-to-date COVID-19 protocols at the stadium, including the 2021 Heath & Safety Guide, check out the Mighty Mussels’s Website at https://www.milb.com/fort-myers or social media platforms.
“We’re thankful to be playing baseball again and can’t wait to see everybody out at the ballpark,” Peters said.
Hammond Stadium is at 14100 6 Mile Cypress Parkway, Fort Myers.