Story by Derek Dunbar, senior at St. Augustine High School.
Sadly, the Baby Cakes are on their way out of town for good. Alongside their 22 years in the Big Easy, the Cakes had their ups and downs with the people of New Orleans. The Cakes (formerly the Zephyrs) went from seeing yearly averages of 7,500 fans per game at the Shrine on Airline to the stands resembling something more like mange on a dog.
Yes, the Baby Cakes’ departure created a vacuum for diehard baseball fans in New Orleans. But don’t worry, there are still many options for watching —from high school baseball to college baseball at UNO and Tulane. Also, there are a lot of baseball tournaments played throughout the year in New Orleans. The city even has an MLB-sponsored Urban Youth Academy for youth, developing inner-city kids’ baseball skills.
After the Baby Cakes leave, you can still find baseball at Turchin Stadium, home of the Tulane Green Wave. The Green Wave is a Division I baseball team that is a part of the American Athletic Conference (AAC). Tulane University’s baseball team is ranked third in the AAC with a 5-3 conference record, which is pretty impressive, if you ask me.
Not to mention that Tulane was officially ranked 96th in the nation during the 2018-19 baseball season. Tulane’s baseball program has also had an incredible record in the postseason, with 15 conference championships, 21 NCAA regional appearances, three NCAA super regional appearances, and two College World Series appearances.
Turchin Stadium is located in Broadmoor, a neighborhood of New Orleans where the rich culture of the Big Easy presents itself well.
If you’re enamored with teams with a deep history, well you might enjoy these stats: the team has won over 75 percent of its games in Turchin since its opening. In 2013, the Green Wave ranked 31st among Division I baseball programs in attendance, averaging 2,080 per home game.
Turchin Stadium holds a capacity of 5,000. And yet the average cost for tickets is from $10 to $15 for weekend games and $5 to $10 for midweek contests. Single game tickets for big rivalry games are about $35.
Not only is there Tulane baseball, but there’s also the UNO Privateers, a college program that has come a long way in the past four years under management of Head Coach Blake Dean. The Privateers baseball program has strengthened over the past six years, from having a losing record to making a few appearances at the Southland Baseball Tournament.
The Privateers are currently ranked eighth in conference play, and their home games are played at Maestri Field, located near scenic Lake Pontchartrain. Tickets average between $3 and $15. Maestri Field is a great place to play because on a beautiful day when the sun shines, you can feel the breeze off of the lake.
After the Baby Cakes leave, baseball in the Big Easy may seem to be left to just colleges, but let’s not discredit the chance to catch America’s pastime at high schools around the city. During the spring you can find high school baseball games just around the corner.
Some of the most popular sites are Kirsch Rooney and Barrow Stadium. Many of New Orleans higher-ranked teams are a part of the Catholic League which is an all-boys league in the greater New Orleans area, consisting of six parochial high schools, Brother Martin, Jesuit, Holy Cross, Archbishop Rummel, St. Augustine and Archbishop Shaw, and John Curtis Christian School. The cost to attend a high school game in New Orleans is between $5 to $10.
Heading to high school games may seem like the bush of the bush league, but the past few years, but New Orleans has had a few top prospects drafted by MLB. So don’t sleep on that.
By virtue of the fact that New Orleans attracts people from around the country as a tourist destination, it is also the home to many baseball tournaments. There’s the SWAC tournament, the Big Easy Classic, the Gatorade Super regionals, and many others.
The SWAC tournament was officially placed here in New Orleans in 2015. Ever since starting here in New Orleans, the tournament has grown from embarrassingly low numbers to now filling Barrow stadium. The competition also played a huge role in making the Southwestern Athletic Conference more interesting.
Because New Orleans is such a draw for baseball tournaments, players often draw the attention of college recruiters. While the Big Easy Classic is rolling the Gatorade Super Regionals kicks off also featuring many little league teams who have competed in the Gatorade pool play rounds.
But if we’re trying to look at how baseball works from the youth-up, you need not look further than the New Orleans Urban Youth Academy (UYA). The New Orleans UYA provide year-round baseball and softball training.
At the Academy, there is not only baseball and softball training, but there are also many different programs to offer. The Academy offers Sports Analytics,Sports Science,Sports Law, and a summer camp. At the Academy kids can learn the art of baseball from fielding,pitching,and also discipline. The Academy serves over 5,000 within the city limits and its goal is to ensure athletics go hand in hand with academics.
So if you’re missing those ‘Cakes and need your baseball fix, just remember: New Orleans may not be a baseball town, but baseball people exist here. And the game is closer to you than you might realize.