Lee County is hosting the 2016 Roy Hobbs Sunshine Classic at the Lee County Player Development Complex and historic Terry Park. The President’s Day 50+ and 60+ Divisions will take place Feb. 11 through Feb. 15, followed by Family Ties, Veterans 35+ and Masters 45+ Divisions Feb. 18 through Feb. 21.
Nearly 200 players and a dozen teams participate in divisions for the 50-and-over crowd and 60-and-over. Former Heisman Trophy winner and Boston College alum Doug Flutie played second base for the Americans squad in the 50-and-over division, which also featured former Red Sox pitcher Bill Lee, who played for the Bahama Breeze in previous Sunshine Classics.
Last year’s tournament generated approximately $400,000 in direct spending for Lee County, including roughly 1,200 hotel room nights and $6,000 in resort tax collections, according to Jeff Mielke, executive director of Lee County Sports Development.
“We are very happy to be back in Lee County,” said Tom Giffen, president of Roy Hobbs Baseball. “We appreciate the hospitality in a community that has been incredibly welcoming and provided great venues and professional services from grounds crews to hotels to vendor services.”
Operated by Lee County Parks & Recreation, Lee County’s five county-owned baseball complexes play host to more than 200 days of amateur baseball tournaments a year when they aren’t being used for spring training games. The estimated economic impact of these events is $50 million annually.
Named after fictional baseball hero Roy Hobbs as depicted in the book, “The Natural,” by Bernard Malmud, the Roy Hobbs Baseball’s annual Sunshine Classic in Fort Myers has expanded to include amateur player divisions for ages 18 and up, with divisions up to ages 75 and older.