All fans of baseball are invited to the 21st Annual Sam Bailey's Islands Night at Hammond Stadium on June 4.
Each year, the Sanibel Island community is not only invited to watch a baseball game at Hammond Stadium, but also assist in raising needed funds for local charities. Islands Night was first started by Sam Bailey, an avid baseball fan who passed away in 2010, and it has since evolved into one of the most popular summer events on the island.
This year's Islands Night features a game between the Fort Myers Miracle and the Lakeland Flying Tigers. The gates open at 5:30 p.m., the pre-game parade and ceremony is scheduled for 6:15 p.m., and the game will follow at approximately 7:05 p.m., depending how long it takes to clear the field.
Staff from the Historical Museum and Village parade across the field at Hammond Stadium during last year's Islands Night. JIM LINETTE.
Many consider the parade to be the highlight of the event, featuring event sponsors and members of the community. There are over 130 sponsors of the event this year, who will offer free tickets to the public and participate in the parade, which is a procession of unique vehicles.
Some groups walk along the field carrying banners during the parade, while the Sanibel Police Department has been known to circle in a patrol truck hauling a boat, island service stations employ tow trucks, and the Bailey family even makes an appearance in its Model AA or Model T.
All of the proceeds from the event are distributed to island non-profits and other organizations. Over the last two decades, it has raised approximately $150,000 in donations to island entities, according to Charlene Kocinski, a staff member at the Bailey's General Store.
What: 21st Annual Sam Bailey's Islands Night
Where: Hammond Stadium, 14100 Ben C. Pratt/6 Mile Cypress Pkwy.
When: Wednesday, June 4. Gates open at 5:30 p.m., the pre-game parade and ceremony is scheduled for 6:15 p.m., and the game will follow at approximately 7:05 p.m.
Details: Tickets are free and can be picked up at Bailey's General Store, 2477 Periwinkle Way. Visit baileys-sanibel.com or call 472-1516 for more information.
The fundraising not only comes from event sponsorships, but also the sale of t-shirts and other memorabilia, and it benefits organizations like F.I.S.H. for Sanibel, the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum, Community Housing and Resources, and more.
There is going to be a stiff rivalry this year between the island chapters of the Kiwanis and Rotary clubs. Each club will host its own beer table with souvenir cups and they will compete over which side raises the most funds.
"We aren't doing concessions this year, but we do have two beer tables. The Kiwanis and Rotary clubs will have a little competition," said Kocinski.
Tickets to Island Night are free and available well past the start of the game. Islanders interested in attending need to bring the free tickets they pick up from local sponsors to the stadium. Hammond Stadium does charge a parking fee.
Tickets are available at Bailey's General Store at 2477 Periwinkle Way. For more information, visit baileys-sanibel.com or call 472-1516.