Each month, MiLB.com spotlights an aspect of Copa de la Diversión, Minor League Baseball's Hispanic fan engagement initiative sponsored by Nationwide, the program's official insurance partner. This edition looks back on some Copa efforts that stand out from the 2023 season. Check out our look at the Copa-inspired ballpark entertainment,
Each month, MiLB.com spotlights an aspect of Copa de la Diversión, Minor League Baseball's Hispanic fan engagement initiative sponsored by Nationwide, the program's official insurance partner. This edition looks back on some Copa efforts that stand out from the 2023 season. Check out our look at the Copa-inspired ballpark entertainment, the similar design styles used in many Copa logos, the new on-field identities for 2023, the clubs' community connections and the ballpark food that helps create the Copa experience. To shop the Copa de la Diversión collection, follow this link here.
Party Starters: Rocket City Trash Pandas
Thirteen new identities that arrived in Copa this season, including eight clubs joining the program for the first time. Among the newcomers were the Double-A Trash Pandas, who announced their Lunaticos identity in their own fun-loving style with a party at their ballpark, Toyota Field.
A week before the season began, Rocket City held a “Fiesta at the Field,” which featured food trucks on the concourse, face painting for the kids and plenty of drinks and music. During the fiesta, the club unveiled the name and logos for its Lunaticos identity.
Hometown Heroes: Albuquerque Isotopes
More than 1.4 million fans attended games during Copa de la Diversión celebrations this season. And Triple-A Albuquerque seems to have benefitted the most from the Copa attendance boom.
The Mariachis de Nuevo México hosted the two best-attended Copa nights of the season at Isotopes Park. For their game on May 5, more than 15,000 fans were in attendance. In addition to a jersey giveaway and postgame fireworks, the club hosted what they called “the most New Mexican event ever,” featuring a live performance from Albuquerque’s own Al Hurricane Jr.
Among Minor League Baseball promotions, there are few things that are as popular as the show “The Office.” So when Double-A Frisco needed a way to promote its Copa celebration at Riders Field – complete with a Quesos Friscos luchador mask giveaway and a meet-and-greet with professional wrestler Chavo Guerrero Jr. – they honored the subtle humor of “The Office” to create this hilarious video.
This was covered in greater detail last month, but any months-long faux “kidnapping” that ends in a battle royale between mixed Nuts mascots and professional luchadores is going to get a curtain call. Seriously, masks off to Single-A Modesto and Pro Wrestling Revolution for maintaining the act for so long and having the final event pay off huge in the end at John Thurman Field.
Unofficial Face of Copa: Luisangel Acuña
Luisangel Acuña is the top Mets prospect, a legitimate five-tool talent, a leader for Double-A Binghamton in the Eastern League Finals and his older brother will probably be the National League MVP this season. But for some reason he’s also the Unofficial Face of Copa de la Diversión. And it’s based purely on coincidence.
Acuña opened the season with Double-A Frisco before being traded for Max Scherzer and finishing the year with the Rumble Ponies. But he was also featured in two bobblehead giveaways by High-A Hickory, for whom the Venezuela native played 54 games last season. The bobblehead depicted Acuña in a full Llamas de Hickory uniform and helmet.
From there, Acuña’s face kept appearing in Copa promotions.
When the RoughRiders were promoting one of their Copa nights, a photo of Acuña wearing a Quesos Friscos uniform was used in the lineup graphic the club posted to social media. Oddly enough, this fan even knew Acuña was the guy to feature in a Copa post almost two months prior.
After the trade, who do you think was featured in the Cóndores de Binghamton social media posts promoting their Copa nights? You guessed it. And yes, this actually happened three times.
Now is this enough to declare Acuña the Official Face of Copa? Certainly not. But is it a coincidence that’s fun to point out? Absolutely.
Coolest 'Not Quite Copa' Story: Reading Fightin’ Phils
This is a unique story about a man named Pedrique Lawyer finally meeting the person for which he was named, Al Pedrique -- who happens to be the Double-A Reading manager. According to this post from the club, “When Lawyer's mom was in labor, his dad rushed to the hospital. On his way in, he discovered a mint-condition Al Pedrique rookie baseball card in the hospital's parking lot.” So what does this have to do with Copa? Well, when Pedrique Lawyer finally did meet Al Pedrique on the field at FirstEnergy Stadium, the skipper was wearing the club’s Luchadores de Reading Copa hat and jersey.
Drinkable Wordplay: Louisville Bats and Eugene Emeralds
It doesn’t really matter if the folks at Atrium Brewing or whoever else had a different style in mind for the novelty beer to help promote Triple-A Louisville’s Murciélagos de Louisville identity. The wordplay was just too perfect: the Murcielager.
Craft beer and Minor League Baseball are the perfect match. In honor of that, MiLB.com has run the Draft Picks series throughout the season. Thanks to the folks in Louisville, a Copa identity enters the brew.
Not to be outdone, Eugene – who also knocked the community connections aspect of Copa out of the park this season – teamed up with a local cafe to create Monarca-chata. The creation even got the stamp of approval from a pair of Monarcas players.
Copa vs. Copa: Reno Aces and El Paso Chihuahuas
Participating clubs often bring their alternate identities on the road to create unusual matchups, especially when it comes to two Copa identities. This season was the first for the Micheladas de Reno. So when Triple-A El Paso was coming to Reno's Greater Nevada Field at the end of August, as many were already reaching for that late-season cocktail, the Micheladas squared off against the Margaritas. Sure, there were many clubs that did an excellent job in coordinating Copa vs. Copa matchups this season. But this one raised the bar.
There was more written about this earlier in the year, but Double-A Wichita invented a community service award in the spirit of Copa de la Diversión. The honor is called the Wind Surge/Tumba Vacas Hispano Y Latinx Premio de Impacto/Hispanic & LatinX Impact Award. The club honors multiple people, businesses or organizations during each of its Copa nights at Riverfront Stadium.
Many clubs add some sort of specialty food or drink to their concessions during Copa celebrations. For their game as the Chupacabras de Round Rock on Sept. 15, the Rangers’ Triple-A affiliate got into the Sunday-dinner spirit with an impressive list of menu items. From the Al Pastor Nachos to the Tex Mex Express Dog to the Dulce de Leche Milkshake, the culture was well-represented at the concessions at Dell Diamond.
Biggest Glow Up: South Bend Cubs
Don’t get us wrong, the original look of Los Cabritos Maldichos de South Bend is as loveable as it is terrifying. But the new look, brought to life by the club’s bobblehead giveaway in August, traded in the comedy and an almost inspirational, deity-like figure. While the overall identity is an homage to the famed Curse of the Billy Goat, the new logo better represents the post-2016 era of the Cubs franchise.
Seeing it Through: Jersey Shore Blue Claws
When we last caught up with the Phillies’ High-A affiliate, the club was accepting submissions for the Medusas de Jersey Shore scholarship program for local Latino/a high school seniors. During its first Copa celebration in June, the club had the honor of rewarding the scholarship to four local students. Check out more about the scholarship here.
Gerard Gilberto is a reporter for MiLB.com.