Crescent City Curveballs
Baseball continues to be a NOLA tradition
Baseball didn’t become the “national pastime” of the United States by being played in only a handful of large cities. Rather, it was a network of major, minor, barnstorming, community and farm teams that brought the game to people across the country. New Orleans has long been home to many such teams on both sides of the segregated color line.
Because of that strictly enforced color line in baseball, black players and fans organized around the semi-pro teams under the general umbrella of the Negro Leagues, while white players and fans did the same for their semi-pro teams.
Some of the Negro League teams linked to New Orleans include the Cohens, Unions, Creoles, Algiers Giants, Black Pelicans, Pinchbacks, Jax Red Socks and Dr. Nut Tigers, among others. New Orleans was also host to the Negro Leagues North-South All-Star Game starting in 1939 that drew thousands of fans annually for several years.
On the white side of the color line, the New Orleans Pelicans became the main baseball team in the city in 1887 and continued to play at several locations until 1959. The Pel’s most famous player is probably “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, who played in New Orleans in 1910 before ultimately ending his career with the Chicago White Sox gambling scandal. A post-segregation 1977 reboot of the Pelicans didn’t last, and then finally a new, modern minor league tradition began with the New Orleans Zephyrs in 1993. The Pelicans name was given new life in 2013 when it became the name of our NBA franchise.
In 2008, the New Orleans Zephyrs became the Triple-A affiliate for the Florida (now Miami) Marlins and in 2009 they created a lovely baseball bat-fleur de lis logo. And then, in 2016, the Zephyrs did the thing sports fans hate most and changed their name to the New Orleans Baby Cakes, along with a brutish baby logo that always makes me think of The Little Rascals. I don’t know if I’ll ever get used to it, but I’m grateful we still have minor league baseball in New Orleans (well, in Metairie, if you need to be specific).
The Baby Cakes kick off seven home games in a row Wednesday, June 13, first with a 3-game series against the Fresno Grizzlies, followed by a 4-game series versus the Sacramento River Cats. I really can’t stress enough how much fun it is to watch a minor league baseball game. The ticket and concession prices are reasonable, the mascots are ridiculous, and the promotions they have linked to almost every game bring variety to the ballpark.
Get yourself out to the Shrine on Airline and take advantage of the upcoming schedule:
Wed. 6/13 at 7 p.m. – Bring a package of unopened diapers to donate to the Junior League and get a free ticket. The park will also be peanut-allergy friendly that night and won’t have in-park sales of peanuts or items containing peanut ingredients.
Thur. 6/14 at 7 p.m. – Thirsty Thursday means $2 domestic drafts, and Dog Day means you can bring your pooch to the game too!
Fri. 6/15 at 7 p.m. – Cancer Awareness night will honor cancer survivors and caregivers, and a jersey auction’s proceeds will benefit the American Cancer Society. The Friday night home game also brings back the popular fireworks display after the game.
Sat. 6/16 at 6 p.m. – It’s Princess Night. I have no idea what that means, but Princess & Pirates Meet and Greet tickets are available. The giveaway is a team poster.
Sun. 6/17 at 1 p.m. – Father’s Day brings special package tickets for $20, as well as the standard Sunday ticket package of 4-for-$44, which includes four tickets, hot dogs, small sodas, one souvenir program and one $5 coupon for the souvenir shop. It’s also a Diaper Donation day again for the Junior League. Early arrivals can do a Pregame Catch on the field and children ages 4-13 can run the bases after the game.
Mon. 6/18 at 7 p.m. – “Our Hero Monday” has discounted $5 tickets for all police officers, firefighters, military personnel, EMTs, doctors, nurses, and their families, with valid ID.
Tue. 6/19 at 12 p.m. – Bring an Acme Oyster House receipt to the park for a BOGO (buy-one-get-one-free) ticket deal, and a Two for Tuesday offer gets you two domestic beers, hot dogs and Good Humor ice creams for the price of one.