Each month, MiLB.com spotlights a particular aspect of Copa de la Diversión, Minor League Baseball's Hispanic fan engagement initiative sponsored by Nationwide, the program's official insurance partner. After focusing on the new on-field identities for 2023 and some of the clubs' community connections, this edition dives into the ballpark food
Each month, MiLB.com spotlights a particular aspect of Copa de la Diversión, Minor League Baseball's Hispanic fan engagement initiative sponsored by Nationwide, the program's official insurance partner. After focusing on the new on-field identities for 2023 and some of the clubs' community connections, this edition dives into the ballpark food that helps create the unique Copa experience.
When celebrating Copa de la Diversión, clubs commonly embrace the traditional food and drinks that hold a special place in Latino/a culture.
Some teams even go as far as to select their identity in honor of a traditional dish or cocktail. This season, 16 of the 90 participating Minor League clubs have chosen a moniker that features a food or drink, including five of the 13 identities that are new to Copa.
But even amongst clubs that choose a different route for their selected identity, it’s common practice for traditional Latin American fare to be included or added to their ballpark concession options or for local vendors to set up shop at the stadium during Copa nights.
The Triple-A Sugar Land Space Cowboys debuted their Dulces identity with a three-night celebration at Constellation Field at the end of April. The club chose Dulces, which roughly translates to candies or sweets, to honor the local sugar production industry for which their city is named.
It was no easy task for Sugar Land to enter the Copa field only a year after rebranding from the Skeeters – which had been the team’s name since 2012 when they were an independent club – to the Space Cowboys.
“It was a risk that we took, doing a rebrand weekend after still trying to teach people who the Space Cowboys were, but it was great,” said Space Cowboys marketing director Amy Johnson
The Dulces logo displays a face on a watermelon candy, which has been dipped in chamoy – a spicy condiment made from dehydrated fruit – and dusted with some seasonings. There is also a flame above the candy to show off its spice.
During their initial Copa celebrations, which has turned into a monthly tradition for the rest of the season, the club connected with the Sugar Land Heritage Foundation to get a sense of the best ways to get the community more involved. The foundation educated the club about a Hispanic team called the Imperial Pirates. The team was sponsored by the Imperial Sugar company, the oldest still existing business in Texas, whose headquarters are just blocks away from Constellation Field at the site of the original factory, which opened in 1843.
For Copa night, the Heritage Foundation created an educational display that stayed on the concourse behind home plate, while some members were involved in pregame festivities, like throwing out the first pitch. The ballpark was decorated with papel picado and traditional Baile folklorico dancers provided on-field entertainment.
Of course, the club also added to its food options to the ballpark concourse during these Copa nights. While their community celebration focused on local history, the club went a little bigger for their concessions additions, calling on their partnership with Texas-based grocery store chain, H-E-B.
“If you're not familiar with H-E-B – it’s the grocery store of Texas,” Johnson said. “People in Texas are very proud of H-E-B.”
In 2006, the grocer opened subsidiary locations throughout Texas called Mi Tienda, which aimed to authentically re-create the experience of shopping in Mexico.
“When you walk into a Mi Tienda store, it's kind of just like a party,” Johnson said. “It's got bright colors, decorations, music, you can buy food and eat it there.”
For their Copa nights, the club set up a Mi Tienda store on the concourse and had employees from the local Mi Tienda serving up street tacos, aguas frescas and, of course, some dulces.
Beloit Sky Carp – Paletas de Beloit
During its game on May 31, the Marlins’ High-A affiliate hosted local Latino/a food trucks – Coco's Tamales, Tacos El Neno, La Michoacana Mexican Creamery – and treated fans to their Copa-namesake snack as the first 100 fans at ABC Supply Stadium received free paletas. During the 2023 season, the logo on the players’ hats and jerseys features a lime flavored paleta. But, the club also announced logos featuring strawberry and guava flavored paletas, which they plan to use in the future. Read more »
Hartford Yard Goats – Chivos de Hartford
During each of their Copa celebrations, the Rockies’ Double-A affiliate offers a unique Latino/a food item. The Yard Goats are also one of the clubs that choose to honor a different country during each Copa night – which is a common practice for different clubs. During their game on May 5, part of the club’s celebration of Mexican heritage was to add taco bowls to the club’s concessions. The Yard Goats also have what they call the "Neighborhood Flavors Cart" on their concourse that hosts different local restaurants for each game and is usually Latino/a for Copa games. Read more »
Gerard Gilberto is a reporter for MiLB.com.