Mar 28, 2024 - World

Minor League Baseball's Copa de la Diversión expands to largest ever

A sample of the blue and red hat for the Midland Amigos, the new Copa identity of the Midland RockHounds, the Double-A affiliate of the Oakland Athletics.

A sample of the blue and red hat for the Midland Amigos, the new Copa identity of the Midland RockHounds, the Double-A affiliate of the Oakland Athletics. Photo: Courtesy of the Midland RockHounds.

Minor League Baseball has announced that its annual Copa de la Diversión, a series-long initiative to appeal to U.S. Hispanics, will include the most teams ever this season.

Why it matters: Last year's MLB World Series was the least-watched on record amid professional baseball's overall declining attendance and viewership, but MiLB's Copa de la Diversión is growing its Latino fan base.

State of play: Minor League Baseball, now in its seventh season of the Copa campaign, recently unveiled the schedule of games and the 98 on-field Hispanic identities that teams will take on during a few games this year.

  • Of those 98, five are new and three have rebranded, according to MiLB reporter Benjamin Hill.
  • 80% of minor league teams now participate in Copa.

Background: Minor League Baseball in 2017 unveiled Es Divertido Ser Un Fan, a promotional program that allowed four teams to change their names to better reflect the area's Latino communities. The then-Las Vegas 51s became the Las Vegas Reyes de Plata.

  • The program became Copa de la Diversión the following year, with 33 teams participating.
  • Before the pandemic, Copa-designated games drew a 20% larger crowd than non-Copa games, the league says.

Zoom in: The Buffalo Bisons, a Triple-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays, will be among the teams getting their first Copa names, becoming the Luces de Buffalo.

  • The team's cap logo features the same electric bolts around the ancient Taíno symbol for sun or light, which was used by many Indigenous people of the Caribbean and represents the Indigenous roots of Puerto Ricans who have lived and thrived in western New York.
  • "The Bisons organization is thrilled to launch 'Luces de Buffalo' to pay tribute to...the impact that so many great Hispanic and Latino players have had on the field for the Bisons," said Mike Buczkowski, President of Rich Baseball Operations.

The intrigue: The Spokane Indians, the Altoona Curve, the Rome Emperors and the Wilmington Blue Rocks are also new to the Copa.

  • As part of the rebranding, this year the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, a single-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers, will no longer use the Copa name Los Temblores de Rancho Cucamonga.
  • They will become the Chaquetas de Rancho Cucamonga, honoring Rancho Cucamonga resident and Dodgers pitcher Joe Kelly, who wore a Mariachi jacket to a team visit to the White House in 2021 following its World Series victory the year before.

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