Tickets to tomorrow’s 27th 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 sponsoring businesses around the island.
Although the event will look a little different this year (the popular pre-game parade will be back next year), there will still be entertainment and in-game promos all night long.
Through beer sales and food specials, 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!”
Hammond Stadium is located at 14100 6 Mile Cypress Parkway, Fort Myers.