Seymour oversees the
entire Fort Myers Miracle
business and also a
large portion of the
Minnesota Twins’
spring training operations.

“He is always looking
for ways to make
The Miracle better,
and those efforts paid off
in 2015 as the team
set an all-time attendance
record in Fort Myers.”

The 2016 Florida State
League All-Star Game
will be played at
Hammond Stadium
on June 18, with a
Home Run Derby
and fireworks
after the game.

photographs by Linwood Ferguson

Making The Miracle

by Bill Levy

IF YOU THINK that a minor league baseball general manager works 9-to-5 during the day, with his door closed, and then gets to watch the game from the comfort of a luxury suite, then you don’t know Andrew Seymour. Seymour, a veteran of the baseball industry for 20 years, and the current General Manager of the Fort Myers Miracle, oversees the entire Miracle business and marketing plan, along with COO Steve Gliner. Not only that, but Seymour is also responsible to manage a large portion of the Minnesota Twins’ spring training operations, as they are both based at Hammond Stadium.

As one who leads deep in the tranches, one day Seymour may be speaking to a civic club, the next day he may be conducting a sales meeting with the nine or so full time Miracle employees. He also oversees the organization’s dozens of game day employees, which swells to the hundreds during spring training. If there is a meeting that involves the team’s promotions, chances are Seymour will be there. Many fans’ feedback, both positive and negative, also gets funneled to Seymour.

“That is what I like about the job.” Seymour said, “No two days are alike.”

During a Miracle game, or a Twins spring training game, it is easy to see his passion. In addition to greeting fans, and making sure the ticketing, merchandising, game operations, promotions and concessions run smoothly, he is also responsible for the games’ overall revenue, which makes for some very long days.

Seymour also works closely with Miracle coaching staff on weather issues, travel arrangements, game day operations and community appearances.

He would not have it any other way.

Growing up in Toronto, Seymour had his sights set on a career in sports for as long as he can remember, in whatever capacity it may be in.

“I knew I wasn’t good enough to be player,” he shrugged. “I had to find another avenue.” That led Seymour to go on a very large search to enter the industry. “I literally contacted hundreds of clubs,” he said.

While most teams did not respond, in 1994 the Miracle did. “I guess Andrew had been calling (then Miracle President) Mike Veeck (grandson of legendary baseball promoter and franchsie owner, Bill Veeck) who is respected immensely in the baseball industry,” said John Kuhn, Senior Director of Business Development for the Miracle. “Mike was busy with his new team in St. Paul and asked if I would talk to this Seymour kid. Andrew and I spoke in late August of that year and he agreed to meet me when I was visiting St. Paul. Andrew drove all the way from Toronto to St. Paul. We spoke for five or ten minutes and, since I was with my dad on a baseball trip, that was it.

“Awhile later Mike asked me about ‘the Seymour kid,’ and I said that he seemed like one of us. Honestly, I never asked for his resume or anything about his education. Andrew just seemed like a good fit for our small organization.”

That is where Seymour first learned about the industry. “I realized how important sales was,” he said. “I knew if I wanted to make it a career, I had to produce.”

After landing a full time job in baseball in Thunder Bay, Ontario for the 1995 season, and a few more stops, Seymour returned to the Miracle in 1998, where he worked until 2008. After he pursued a couple of other opportunities, including one as the General Manager of the Vancouver Canadians, where he was selected as the Northwest League’s 2009 Executive of the Year, he came back to Fort Myers, where he has been ever since.

“There are several reasons,” he said. “I like the quality of life, and I like the people. There is a great sense of community and being a father, it is a great place to raise kids.”

He also mentioned that he felt he wanted to reunite with Gliner, and that the Miracle “had a great staff in place and they play in a compelling stadium.”

Gliner said, “Andrew was a fixture here with the Miracle for many seasons. He had the opportunity to become a GM in Vancouver in 2008 and when we had the opportunity to bring him back to the Miracle for the 2011 season, it was a no-brainer. Andrew has tremendous energy, a strong passion for the Southwest Florida market, and he interacts with the fans and sponsors in a first class manner. He is always looking for ways to make the Miracle better, and those efforts paid off in 2015 as the team set an all-time attendance record here in Fort Myers.”

“This is a good market with a good audience,” he said. “It is always growing, and they are looking for things to do. If we put on a good show, they will respond.”

“We have a good staff here,” he said. “We got after it, and the community responded.”

He also noted that while the Miracle may often have promotions that have nothing to do with the game itself, such as food specials, they are working together with the Twins, who provide the Miracle the players.

“That is a relationship we so dearly value and treasure,” he said. “They are great to work with. You want to find common ground. We are promoting one of their affiliates. It gets people to the game. It creates energy and excitement. They want their players to play in a fun environment. You want to have good communication and do things in good taste.”

“The Minnesota Twins have enjoyed a longstanding partnership with the Fort Myers Miracle,” said Mark Weber, the Twins manager of Florida business operations. “The player development aspects are central to our efforts to compete for a World Championship. Meanwhile, the Miracle’s role in helping shape the spring training experience for Twins fans continues to grow every year. The Twins are grateful for the efforts of Andrew Seymour and so many other dedicated Miracle staffers.”

Though Seymour admits that the role he plays in spring training “sometimes makes it difficult to find time to attend to Miracle matters,” it is something he would not trade for anything.

“I love it!” he said. “There is so much energy at the ballpark. There are some huge crowds. It is great for baseball and it is great for the area. It shows the community how much fun a game is when the place is full. It is great to have spring training right before our season. We hope we can carry on with that momentum.”

He is also grateful for the role that both the county and the Twins had in the recent stadium renovation project. He said that now that the stadium is renovated, there may be some other events coming to the ballpark, besides Twins and Miracle games.

“During the renovations it was tough to schedule events,” he said. “Now we can look at some other ways to utilize the ballpark. I think people see Hammond Stadium as a destination and we want to take advantage of that, while also giving the community great events.”

Fans may have already noticed that the Miracle’s annual Ballpark Festival of Beers returned to Hammond Stadium this past January, no longer at the softball fields in the CenturyLink Sports Complex. The FGCU baseball team also hosted a game against Miami recently at Hammond Stadium.

Seymour said the team is looking into more events, with a big one slated for June 18th, when the team will host the Florida State League All Star Game.

“What an exciting event that will be!” Seymour said. “It is the 55th annual event.” It will showcase the league’s best players in an incredible platform. There will be a home run derby. There will be post game fireworks. The game will be broadcasted in Spanish and English and may even be televised. It is great for the fans. It is great for the community.”

There also may be other activities planned over that weekend. He hinted about talks with the City of Fort Myers and the River District about doing some events in the downtown area.

Before that though, Seymour hopes fans will take in some Miracle games. He noted that the Miracle won the championship in 2014 and had the best overall record in the Florida State League South Division last year. The promotional schedule will be jam packed with some of the team’s signature promotions such as Dog Daze, Thirsty Thursdays Fireworks, and Beer, Baseball & Boom — as well as some new promotions.

“With all of the success on and off the field in 2015, I am looking forward to working with Andrew Seymour and Steve Gliner in 2016. Between the team we are assembling and the promotional schedule the Miracle have already put together, the stadium will be the place to be again this summer for great baseball and family entertainment," says Miracle Manager Jeff Smith. •

For more information on the Fort Myers Miracle, visit www.miraclebaseball.com or call 768-4210.

May-June 2016