Summertime and “the living is easy in The Big Easy”

IMG_1430“Unexpected pleasures are sprinkled throughout life to give it a little extra flavor.” Susan Gale

Last week, we were in New Orleans, experiencing all the sites and sounds of the Big Easy, not even thinking about baseball. Walks in the French Quarter, beignets at Cafe du Monde, walking around Lafayette Cemetery, listening to jazz at Preservation Hall, eating Po’ Boy sandwiches and looking for great red beans and rice. From our window at the Hotel Monteleone, we looked out the window Thursday evening and in the distance, we saw what looked to be stadium lights. I said, nah, the New Orleans team wasn’t in town this week. I quickly checked my MiLB First Pitch app, scrolled to the New Orleans Baby Cakes, and…. sure enough, they were in town! Our plans for Friday were sealed – we were going to see the Cakes take on the Oklahoma City Dodgers Friday night!!

Team History

What a pleasant surprise this was! We caught an Uber to Shrine on Airline stadium, walked right up to the ticket window, and were lucky enough to score seats in the front row behind home plate! Shrine on Airline, previously Zephyr Stadium, is now 20 years old but still looks brand new and clean. And while the team and stadium have new names this year, baseball is not new to the Crescent City!

Minor league baseball in New Orleans dates back to 1887, when the Pelicans joined the Southern League and played at Sportsman Park. In 1901 they moved to Athletic Park, and then in 1908 moved into Pelican Park. They stayed in Pelican Park until 1914, when they moved to Heinemann Park after their owner, A.J. Heinemann.

Photo credit: Digital Ballparks

The Pelicans remained in Heinemann Park, later renamed Pelican Stadium, through the 1957 season. They played the next two seasons in City Park Stadium, but after the 1959 season, the Southern Association folded, and the Pelicans were no more.

When Denver was awarded a major league franchise, the existing Denver Zephyrs were moved to New Orleans and began play in 1993 as the New Orleans Zephyrs. In 2017, they began play as the newly renamed Baby Cakes. Their new logos reflect Mardi Gras traditions, as well as a baby, wearing a crown, emerging from a king cake. Their crest also honors previous New Orleans teams, the Pelicans and the Zephyrs.

Friendly fans and staff, and great food!

Even though the crowd was small (actual attendance was well below the announced crowd of 6,101), everyone we met was very friendly. Including the staff! I signed up to play a mid inning game, Fish or No Fish, and got to hang out with Ryan, Royce, and Whitney for a bit. Ryan also works as a photographer, and Royce also does promo work with the Pelicans and the Saints.

Here, Royce is asking me if it’s Fish or No Fish. Fortunately, I won, and got a coupon for free tickets to another Cakes game. Sadly I had to give it to another fan.

While I was waiting to go out for my game, we also met Jim the usher. Jim was awesome to chat with, and knew quite a bit about some of the ballparks in Florida. We both agreed that McKechnie Field (we both refuse to call it by its corporate name) is one of the best around!

On the way out, we also ran into Evelyn. Even at her rather tender age, she is already a baseball veteran, having seen the Pensacola Blue Wahoos and the Texas Rangers! Looks like she had a great time!

The food was fantastic! Where else can you get red beans and rice, jambalaya, gumbo, or a po boy? They also had a full bar, with not just a great menu of standard drinks but had a few drink specials based on the movie “Titanic” (more on the Titanic in a bit). We went with the red beans and rice and a hot dog, and the Louisiana Lemonade.
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In game experience

Friday night’s game was “Tribute to Titanic Night”, which helps explain the drink special above! In addition, as a souvenir, we came home with some bling! At least we didn’t have to go to the bottom of the ocean to get it!
Since we were at the game for pleasure (with the blog being an added bonus), I only had my iPhone for photos, and I also didn’t walk around during the game like I normally do. Hey, it WAS a vacation, after all! That said, the Baby Cakes do a great job of not over doing their between inning games. They had the aforementioned Fish or No Fish game, as well as build a burger race, and racing ponies. They also had a “complete the lyrics” game, and, of course, the song was Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On.” While I new the lyric, I am so glad I didn’t have to sing it!

BTW, if you are wondering about the title of this blog, it’s because we really liked KC Serna’s walk up song, “Summertime” by Sublime. Here’s KC scoring from third after a triple.

And for your listening pleasure, Sublime’s version of “Summertime”

While I am glad I didn’t lug my Canon camera around New Orleans (it was hotter than hades!), I missed out on getting some great action pictures, especially since we were in the front row. That said, I did manage to get a few good pictures. The Cakes jumped to a 4-0 lead in the second and never looked back, winning 5-2 in a brisk game time of 2:17!

Moises Sierra started the second with a home run!


Updating the MiLB First Pitch app

Wrap up

Shrine on Airline is a fantastic place to take in a game! I highly recommend catching a game the next time you are in New Orleans. It’s about an $18 Uber ride from the French Quarter, and worth every penny. It’s already on my list of favorite teams – can’t beat how we were treated, and the views are awesome!
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