After nearly a quarter-century as the New Orleans Zephyrs, the 2017 season will mark the beginning of a new era for professional baseball in the Crescent City with the renamed New Orleans Baby Cakes, the team revealed at a ceremony on Tuesday night.
Baby Cakes was selected from a group of seven finalists following an online "Name the Team" contest, during which more than 3,000 submissions were turned in by fans to replace the Zephyrs nickname, which carried over with the franchise when the team arrived from Denver in 1993.
"Our goal was to give the baseball fans of New Orleans a team and identity they can call their own," said Baby Cakes President Lou Schwechheimer. "New Orleans is full of traditions woven into the fabric of the city, and this new tradition will be something local and iconic and celebrate what makes New Orleans and Minor League Baseball so great: family and fun."
A tribute to the Mardi Gras king cakes where small plastic babies are sought after, "Baby Cakes" represents a new Louisiana tradition and underscores a fighting spirit and dedication to family fun. The new identity encompasses many Mardi Gras themes, starting with the team colors of mixing the Zephyrs' dark navy blue with gold, purple and green. The primary logo is a baby, wearing a crown, emerging from a king cake while swinging a baseball bat.
The determined-looking baby will be showcased on the caps worn during home games, which will feature white jerseys spelling "NOLA" with a crown-adorned king cake in place of the letter "O," also prominently featured in an emblem appearing on the team's road caps. The away jerseys will spell "New Orleans" with Mardi Gras beads hanging from the lettering.
Alternate versions of the logo include a "joyful" baby and a baby carrying a Mardi Gras parade ladder.
In a nod to the past, the Baby Cakes' crest contains the logos of the city's previous professional baseball identities, the Pelicans and the Zephyrs. The crest will be worn as a patch on the sleeves of the home white and alternate navy blue jerseys, while all uniforms will include the logo of the parent club Miami Marlins on the opposite sleeve.
"We wanted to create a name and a brand that allowed the heart of this city to shine through it," said Senior Vice President and General Manager Cookie Rojas. "While we take our responsibility to provide affordable family entertainment very seriously, we also want to embrace the fun which permeates through New Orleans. We will continue to create a festive atmosphere with great partners in a clean, immaculate environment where you can bring your family."
The new name is the culmination of an eight-month creative overhaul of the franchise spearheaded by Brandiose, the sports marketing firm which has overseen rebranding efforts of more than 50 minor league teams. Brandiose developed the logos and uniforms, and is dreaming up enhancements for the 2017 fan experience.
"Every New Orleanian we met spoke of the unique culture, resilience, family, and the importance of festivals," said Brandiose's Casey White. "Our goal is to make a Baby Cakes game the biggest party in the city every night."
In celebration of the new name, Schwechheimer has pledged lifetime passes to Baby Cakes games for each child born in the state of Louisiana in 2017. One of the babies, who will be registered by their parents through the hospital in which they were born, will be the recipient of a full, four-year tuition to the Louisiana university of their choosing when they turn 18.
"We are proud to proclaim 2017 the "Year of the Baby Cake,'" Schwechheimer said. "We are instituting 'Baby Cake Nation' and making each child born in Louisiana over the course of the year a card-carrying member so they can create their own treasured memories at the ballpark for a lifetime."
The Baby Cakes take the field for the first time on Thursday, April 6, 2017 against the Memphis Redbirds. Season tickets and group packages are now on sale by calling (504) 734-5155 or by visiting the team's new website, cakesbaseball.com, where new merchandise is also available. The Baby Cakes can be followed on social media platforms ("cakesbaseball"), including Facebook.com/cakesbaseball.