Copa de la Diversión

From BR Bullpen

Copa de la Diversión is a promotion originally launched by Minor League Baseball to encourage engagement around their local baseball team by members of the Latin community. It has been a strong success since its launch - on a small scale under a different name - in 2017.

On February 1st, 2022 - the first day of Black History Month - Minor League Baseball announced[1] a similar effort to engage the Black community. It will be named "The Nine" - the uniform number Jackie Robinson wore during his single season in the minor leagues - and involve all 120 affiliated clubs.

History[edit]

A Minor Difference[edit]

Minor League Baseball needs fans in the stands to produce revenue. With little to no income from broadcast rights, that has always been true - but the Coronavirus pandemic made it more widely known by forcing the minors to shut down completely while MLB played a delayed and shortened 2020 season without fans. As such, its operators are always looking for two things: how to bring new customers into their ballparks, and how to bring existing customers in more often.

Untapped Customers?[edit]

First a basic demographic fact: the Latin share of the U.S. population doubled between 1990 and 2015, and more than tripled since 1960.

Latins have been involved in baseball since its very beginnings. In 1864, a Cuban student returning home from college in the U.S. took baseball along. In only four years, Cuba had its first professional team - a year before the Cincinnati Red Stockings went pro in the U.S. From there, the game spread exponentially around the Caribbean and throughout Central and South America.

The game would evolve somewhat differently there. As recently as 1990, the fact that minor league rosters had much higher ratios of Hispanic players than in the big leagues was thought to be because Latin America tended toward "small-ball" or "inside" baseball - playing the game one base at a time versus swinging to clear fences. However, that is not the only reason: in particular, Latin players are often seen as cheap labor or roster fillers, as they will agree to play for minimal salaries for a longer time than most Americans, especially college graduates who usually want to move on to a real career as soon as it becomes clear that they will not make it in the major leagues.

In 2015, Minor League Baseball - the legal entity that still, at the time, existed - realized it had a largely untapped market. The Latino love for baseball remained obvious, and nearly one in five Americans was now Hispanic, but executives had noticed that the number of Latino spectators was nowhere near one in five.

Two seasons later, starting small and announced in the middle of the year, four teams tried something new.[2] Reviving and translating an old slogan used off and on between the 1960s and 2006 - "It’s Fun to be a Fan" becoming "Es Divertido Ser Un Fan" - they set about finding ways to bring Hispanics to their games.

Alternate IDs[edit]

For three of the four teams, the most visible way was an alternate brand. Then and now, that has not usually meant directly translating the existing brand. The Las Vegas 51s became the Las Vegas Reyes de Plata (Las Vegas Silver Kings), the Charlotte Knights became the Charlotte Caballeros (Charlotte Gentlemen), and the Visalia Rawhide became the Visalia Toros (Visalia Bulls). The Kane County Cougars chose not to rebrand - probably because "Cougars" translates to the equally English-sounding/reading "Pumas" and possibly accounting for the fact that many sources mistakenly say Copa started with three teams. The ball club pointed out that Kane County has more Hispanics than any other county that borders Chicago's Cook County.

All four teams did other things on Copa days, ranging from public service announcements in Spanish to Hispanic menu choices to culturally relevant music - and, of course, selling Copa-specific merchandise.

The July 2017 announcement[3] said Minor League Baseball had chosen the four markets and that the program would be expanded the next season. That confidence was born out when the number of participating teams jumped to 33 the next year.

The 2018 campaign brought two other new things: a new name, and the creation of a contest around it.

Becoming the Copa[edit]

Copa de la Diversión replaced Es Divertido Ser Un Fan and continues today.

The phrase loosely translates as "Fun Cup" - because it can now bring a trophy.

Teams work up a Copa plan, which seem to be as diverse as the concept itself with the number of dates set aside for Copa varying widely from team to team. Minor League Baseball's Latinx Advisory Committee reviews the plans and results, nominates a slate of finalists, and votes a winner. The Albuquerque Isotopes won the first two as the Mariachis de Nuevo Mexico, with of course no winner in the pandemic-cancelled 2020 season. The 2021 award went to the Worcester Red Sox as Los Wepas de Worcester. The 2022 Copa includes 86 teams, and brands were announced on March 31st.

Participating teams have been an increasing share of all teams every year the cup has been held, with one downturn in raw numbers that resulted from the 2021 contraction. From four teams in 2017 - just one-quarter of one percent of the then total of 160 - the numbers and percentages have been: 2018, 33/21%; 2019, 72/45%; 2020, 92/58%; 2021, 76/63%; 2022, 86/72%.

Copa nicknames, both current and past, are listed below. The Minor League Baseball website lists the current ones with each team's statement about its choice[4].

Participating Teams[edit]

Team Alternate Name Translation Year(s)
Akron RubberDucks Perros Calientes de Akron Akron Hot Dogs 2021-2022
Albuquerque Isotopes Mariachis de Nuevo México New Mexico Mariachis 2018-2022
Amarillo Sod Poodles Pointy Boots de Amarillo Amarillo Pointy Boots (because the footwear originated in North-Central Mexico) 2020-2022
Arkansas Travelers Diamantes de Arkansas Arkansas Diamonds 2020-2022
Asheville Tourists Yacumamas de Asheville a yacumama is a mythical snakelike creature 2020-2022
Boise Hawks Boise Papas Fritas Boise French Fries 2020 (contracted in pre-2021 reorganization)
Bowie Baysox Cangrejos Fantasmas de Chesapeake Chesapeake Ghost Crabs 2020-2022
Bowling Green Hot Rods Bólidos de Bowling Green Bowling Green Racing Cars 2020-2022
Bradenton Marauders Bradenton Barbanegras Bradenton Blackbeards 2019-2022
Brooklyn Cyclones Brooklyn Jefes Brooklyn Bosses 2018-2022
Burlington Royals Molinos de Burlington Burlington Windmills 2020 (contracted in pre-2021 reorganization)
Carolina Mudcats Pescados de Carolina Carolina Fish 2019-2022
Cedar Rapids Kernels Cinco Estaciones de Cedar Rapids Cedar Rapids Five Seasons (CR's nickname is the City of the Five Seasons[5]) 2020-2022
Charleston RiverDogs Perros Santos de Charleston Charleston Holy Dogs 2019-2022
Charlotte Knights Caballeros de Charlotte Charlotte Cavaliers (can also translate as Gentlemen, and the team says it refers to "gentlemanly horseman" - or, Knight) 2017-2022
Charlotte Stone Crabs Frijoles Saltarines de Puerto Carlota Port Charlotte Jumping Beans 2020 (contracted in pre-2021 reorganization)
Chattanooga Lookouts Montañas de Chattanooga Chattanooga Mountains 2019-2022
Clinton LumberKings Clinton Elotes Clinton Corns 2019-2020 (contracted in pre-2021 reorganization)
Columbia Fireflies Chicharrones de Columbia Columbia Pork Rinds 2019-2022
Columbus Clippers Veleros de Columbus Columbus Sailboats 2019-2022
Corpus Christi Hooks Raspas de Corpus Christi a raspa is a refreshing cold dessert 2018-2021
Corpus Christi Hooks Corpus Christi Cumbias Cumbia is a style of music that originated as a Columbian folk dance 2022
Daytona Tortugas Tortugas de Daytona Daytona Turtles 2019-2022
Delmarva Shorebirds Gallos de Delmarva Delmarva Roosters 2019-2022
Down East Wood Ducks Patos Joyuyos de Down East Down East Wood Ducks 2019
Down East Wood Ducks Avocados Luchadores de Down East Down East Fighting Avocados 2020-2022
Durham Bulls Toros de Durham Durham Bulls 2017-2018
Durham Bulls Mal de Ojo de Durham Durham Evil Eyes 2019
Durham Bulls Cervezas de Durham Durham Beers 2020-2022
El Paso Chihuahuas El Paso Chihuahuas El Paso Chihuahuas 2018
El Paso Chihuahuas Margaritas de El Paso translates to "daisy flowers" but refers to the cocktail 2019-2022
Erie SeaWolves Piñatas de Erie a piñata is a hanging bag at children’s parties that is broken and rains sweets or small toys down on them 2019-2022
Eugene Emeralds Monarcas de Eugene Eugene Monarchs (as in monarch butterfly) 2018-2022
Everett AquaSox Conquistadores de Everett Everett Conquerors 2018-2022
Fayetteville Woodpeckers Guerreos de Fayetteville Fayetteville Warriors 2020-2022
Florida Fire Frogs Coquis de Florida Florida Tree Frogs 2019-2020 (contracted in pre-2021 reorganization)
Fort Wayne TinCaps Manzanas Luchadores de Fort Wayne Fort Wayne Fighting Apples 2020, 2022
Fresno Grizzlies Lowriders de Fresno Fresno Lowriders 2019-2022
Frisco RoughRiders Los Quesos de Frisco Frisco Cheese 2022
Great Lakes Loons Pepinillos Picantes del Norte Northern Spicy Pickles 2022
Greensboro Grasshoppers Ocelotes de Greensboro Greensboro Ocelots 2019-2022
Greenville Drive Energia de Greenville Greenville Energy 2018-2020
Greenville Drive Ranas de Rio River Frogs 2021-2022
Gwinnett Stripers Xolos de Gwinnett "xolo" - pronounced SHO-lo - is short for Xoloitzcuintlil, the national dog of Mexico often called the "Mexican Hairless" 2019-2022
Harrisburg Senators Playeros de Harrisburg Harrisburg Beachgoers 2020-2022
Hartford Yard Goats Chivos de Hartford Hartford Billy Goats 2018-2022
Hickory Crawdads Llamas de Hickory Hickory Llamas 2019-2022
Hillsboro Hops Los Lúpulos de Hillsboro Hillsboro Hoppers 2018
Hillsboro Hops Soñadores de Hillsboro Hillsboro Dreamers 2019-2022
Hudson Valley Renegades Fenómenos Enmascarados del Valle de Hudson Hudson Valley Masked Phenoms 2020-2022
Idaho Falls Chukars Madres de Idaho Falls Idaho Falls Mothers 2020 (contracted in pre-2021 reorganization)
Inland Empire 66ers of San Bernardino Cucuys de San Bernardino a cucuy is a mythical Hispanic character like the American boogeyman 2018-2022
Iowa Cubs Demonios de Des Moines Des Moines Demons 2019-2022
Jersey Shore BlueClaws (Lakewood BlueClaws through 2020) Medusas de Jersey Shore (Medusas de Lakewood through 2020) Jersey Shore Jellyfish (Lakewood Jellyfish through 2020) 2019-2022
Kane County Cougars Kane County Cougars Kane County Cougars 2017-2020 (contracted in pre-2021 reorganization)
Kannapolis Cannon Ballers Rápidos de Kannapolis Kannapolis Speedsters 2018-2022
Lake County Captains Picantes de Lake County Lake County Spicies 2019-2022
Lake Elsinore Storm Lake Elsinore Storm Lake Elsinore Storm 2018
Lake Elsinore Storm Cadejos de Lake Elsinore a cadejo is a mythic wolf 2019-2020
Lancaster JetHawks Viento de Lancaster Lancaster Wind 2019-2020 (contracted in pre-2021 reorganization)
Lansing Lugnuts Locos de Lansing Lansing Fools or Nuts (a play on team battle cry “Let’s Go Nuts!”) 2019-2022
Las Vegas Aviators Reyes de Plata de Las Vegas Las Vegas Silver Kings 2017-2022
Lehigh Valley IronPigs Leigh Valley Tocino Lehigh Valley Bacon 2018
Lehigh Valley IronPigs Coquís de Leigh Valley Leigh Valley Tree Frogs 2019-2022
Lexington Legends Leyendas de Lexington Lexington Legends 2019-2020 (contracted in pre-2021 reorganization)
Louisville Bats Murciélagos de Louisville Louisville Bats (the mammal, not the stick) 2019-2022
Memphis Redbirds Música de Memphis Memphis Music 2018-2019, 2022
Midland RockHounds Matamoscas de Midessa Midland-Odessa Fly Swatters 2019-2022
Modesto Nuts Alebrijes de Modesto Modesto Spirit Guides 2019-2022
Myrtle Beach Pelicans Pelícanos de Myrtle Beach Myrtle Beach Pelicans 2019-2022
Nashville Sounds Vihuelas de Nashville a vihuela is a guitar-like instrument that originated in Spain 2019-2020, 2022
New Hampshire Fisher Cats Gatos Feroces de New Hampshire New Hampshire Fierce Cats 2019-2022
Norfolk Tides Pajaritos de Norfolk Norfolk Small Birds 2020-2022
Northwest Arkansas Naturals Naturales del Noroeste de Arkansas Northwest Arkansas Naturals 2020-2022
Ogden Raptors Carnivoros de Ogden Ogden Carnivores 2020 (contracted in pre-2021 reorganization)
Oklahoma City Dodgers Cielo Azul de Oklahoma City Oklahoma City Blue Skies 2018-2022
Omaha Storm Chasers Cazadores de Tormentas de Omaha Omaha Storm Hunters 2018-2022
Pawtucket Red Sox Osos Polares de Pawtucket Pawtucket Polar Bears 2019-2020
Pensacola Blue Wahoos will join the Copa in 2023
Peoria Chiefs Peoria en el Río Peoria on the River 2020-2022
Portland Sea Dogs Alces de Maine Maine Moose 2020-2022
Quad Cities River Bandits Bandidos del Río de las Ciudades Cuádruples Quad Cities River Bandits 2022
Rancho Cucamonga Quakes Temblores de Rancho Cucamonga Rancho Cucamonga Tremors 2018-2022
Reading Fightin Phils Peleadores de Reading Reading Fighters 2019
Reading Fightin Phils Luchadores de Reading Reading Fighters 2020-2022
Reno Aces Corazones de Reno Reno Hearts 2019-2022
Richmond Flying Squirrels Ardillas Voladores de Richmond Richmond Flying Squirrels 2019-2022
Rochester Red Wings Cocos Locos de Rochester Rochester Crazy Coconuts 2020-2022
Rocky Mountain Vibes Lloronas de Montana Rocosa La Llorana is a folkloric figure representing a crying ghost woman 2020 (contracted in pre-2021 reorganization)
Round Rock Express Chupacabras de Round Rock a chupacabra - a compound of the Spanish words for "goat" and "sucker" - is a legendary creature that feeds on the blood of small animals 2018-2022
Sacramento River Cats Sacramento Dorados Sacramento Goldens 2018-2022
St. Paul Saints Santos de San Pablo St. Paul Saints 2022
Salem Red Sox San Bernardos de Salem Salem St. Bernards (the dog breed, not the saint) 2019-2022
Salem-Keizer Volcanoes Campesinos de Salem-Keizer Salem-Keizer Farmers 2020 (contracted in pre-2021 reorganization)
Salt Lake Bees Abejas de Salt Lake Salt Lake Bees 2018-2022
San Antonio Missions Flying Chanclas de San Antonio San Antonio Flying Slippers 2018-2022
San Jose Giants San Jose Gigantes San Jose Giants 2018
San Jose Giants Churros de San José San Jose Fritters 2019-2022
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders Vejigantes de Scranton/Wilkes-Barre a vejigante is a folkloric masked jester-like character 2019-2022
Somerset Patriots Zorros de Somerset Somerset Foxes 2019-2022
South Bend Cubs Cabritos Maldichos de South Bend South Bend Cursed Kid Goats (refers to the big Cubs' Curse of the Billy Goat) 2020-2022
Springfield Cardinals Cardenales de Springfield Springfield Cardinals 2020-2022
Stockton Ports Caballos de Stockton Stockton Horses 2018-2022
Syracuse Mets Congueros de Syracuse Syracuse Conga Drums 2022
Tacoma Rainiers Familia de Tacoma Tacoma Family 2019-2022
Trenton Thunder Trueno de Trenton Trenton Thunder 2020 (contracted in pre-2021 reorganization)
Tri-City ValleyCats Los Puentes de Tri-City Tri-City Bridges 2020 (contracted in pre-2021 reorganization)
Tri-City Dust Devils Viñeros de Tri-City Tri-City Winemakers 2019-2022
Tulsa Drillers Petroleros de Tulsa Tulsa Oilers 2018-2019
Visalia Rawhide Toros de Visalia Visalia Bulls 2017-2022
West Michigan Whitecaps Calaveras de West Michigan West Michigan Skulls 2019-2022
Wichita Wind Surge Tumba Vacas de Wichita Wichita Cow Tippers (loosely translated; honors the Mexican national sport "La Charreria" that arose from equestrian activities and livestock traditions used in the haciendas of old Mexico) 2022
Winston-Salem Dash Rayados de Winston-Salem Winston-Salem Striped Ones 2018-2021
Winston-Salem Dash Salsa de Winston-Salem Winston-Salem Salsa 2022
Wisconsin Timber Rattlers Cascabeles de Wisconsin Wisconsin Jingle Bells 2019-2022
Worcester Red Sox Los Wepas Worcester Wows (a loose translation; a wepa is a slang exclamation of approval or encouragement) 2019-2022