Each month, MiLB.com spotlights an aspect of Copa de la Diversión, Minor League Baseball's Hispanic fan engagement initiative sponsored by Nationwide, the program's official insurance partner. This edition examines a similar design style used in the creation of many Copa logos. Check out our look at the new on-field identities for 2023, some of the clubs' community connections and a dive into the ballpark food that helps create the unique Copa experience.
Count Single-A Fredericksburg among the clubs that really got into the spirit -- or spirits -- of Copa de la Diversión.
The FredNats joined the program for the first time in 2023 with their Fundadores identity. The name Fundadores -- which translates to Founders -- is a nod to founding father George Washington, who lived in Fredericksburg as a child. The club already uses images of Washington in some of their alternate logos. But their Copa design managed to honor a popular symbol of Latin -- particularly Mexican -- culture.
The club worked with the design company Brandiose to come up with a look that transformed Washington’s portrait from the $1 bill with the calaveras or sugar skull design.
In the simplest terms, modern Mexican culture is the byproduct of a long and complicated history of indigenous and European customs blending together. The sugar skull, in its modern form, was created by this amalgamation.
The sugar skull is used in many forms of remembrance of the dead, but it’s closely associated with el Día de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead celebration in November. However, the imagery has grown beyond the holiday and has simply become a recognizable symbol of Mexican culture.
Adding the design to the Washington portrait took a few tries to get it just right.
“There were some renditions where George looked real mean. Like real, real mean,” said Robbie Perry, the FredNats vice president of creative services. “So we thought that we're having literally ‘fun’ in the name Fundadores, we got to make George look light-hearted and fun and very welcoming -- even if he was a sugar skull.”
Before choosing the Fundadores identity, the club partnered with the Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce to help plan their Copa celebrations. It was through their outreach that the name Fundadores was even suggested, and feedback from members of the chamber helped create the final design of the logo.
“Getting their feedback, that is incredible. We love it,” Perry said, noting that the addition of the marigolds outside of the brackets next to the logo was among the suggestions. “Some [ideas] are like, ‘The colors need to be more fun. Yeah, it's a sugar skull, but what is making it look Hispanic and what is the Latin flair on it?’”
In addition to the Washington sugar skull portrait logo, the club leaned into the look of the $1 bill and quite literally emphasized the “fun” in Fundadores. The font on the front of the jersey is the same as the typeface from the actual $1 bill. And the first three letters in “Fundadores,” are much larger than the rest of the word as it goes across the chest of the jersey. The jersey is also green with the image of orange marigolds displayed across the shoulders, mixed in with the green branches that could be found on the $1 bill.
For their Copa celebrations, the club invites a number of local Hispanic-owned businesses, such as clothing stores, banks or real estate offices, to set up shop on the concourse at Virginia Credit Union Stadium. They also update their between-innings and player introduction music and display the flags of different Latin countries.
The club also hired cosplay actors, whom Perry described as “dressed to the nines in the sugar skull makeup,” to entertain fans and even paint the calaveras design on the faces of volunteering fans.
Among the 95 Minor and Partner League clubs participating in Copa this season, 12 use some form of the calaveras design in its logo. Here’s a look at each one.
Durham Bulls - Toros Bravos de Durham
The Bulls first joined the Copa field as the Toros de Durham in 2017 and have since used the Mal de Ojo and Cervezas identities. In 2023, the club displayed a new look for its Toros Bravos identity, which depicts a snorting bull with a sugar skull design. The logo also shows the “Bull City” hand gesture within the nose. See more »
Albuquerque Isotopes - Mariachis de Nuevo México
Albuquerque has participated in Copa since 2018 with the Mariachis identity. Their logo features a skeleton Mariachi band performer, complete with a bow tie, sombrero and, of course, a calaveras design on its face. See more »
Carolina Mudcats - Pescados de Carolina
Carolina pays tribute to both the many fish-based dishes in Hispanic cuisine as well as El Día de los Muertos with their Pescados logo, which features a catfish decorated with the sugar skull design. See more »
Charleston RiverDogs - Perros Santos de Charleston
The club calls up its home’s "Holy City" nickname with an identity that translates to “Holy Dogs.” The haloed pup in the logo features a sugar skull design on its face. See more »
Charlotte Knights - Caballeros de Charlotte
Another of the original Copa clubs from 2017, the Caballeros’ logo features both a Knight and a horse that don armor featuring the flowers and other elements of the calaveras design. See more »
Hartford Yard Goats - Chivos de Hartford
Hartford brings some grit to its Copa identity, Chivos, which drops the “Yard” from its original name and directly translates to “Goats.” The “v” in the word “Chivos” is replaced by an image of the horned skull of a goat that’s decorated with the calaveras design. See more »
Las Vegas Aviators - Reyes de Plata de Las Vegas
Part of the original Copa group, the club’s "Silver Kings" identity honors the migrant mine workers that helped Nevada earn its "Silver State" nickname. The logo features a skeleton miner, with a sugar skull design on its face, wearing a baseball jersey and hat with a baseball bat-turned-pick ax slug over its shoulder. See more »
Springfield Cardinals - Cardenales de Springfield
Springfield aims for simplicity with a look that adds the calaveras design to its traditional logo of the cardinal perched upon a bat with an “S” in the background. All three elements received the sugar skull treatment. See more »
St. Paul Saints - Santos de San Pablo
Another haloed animal, the Saints feature their mascot, Mudonna, in sugar skull form. THe logo pays homage to the ballpigs that have long been part of the club’s history. See more »
West Michigan Whitecaps - Calaveras de West Michigan
The Whitecaps went straight for it with their Calaveras identity. But in addition to honoring the style and día de los muertos holiday, the logo features some West Michigan easter eggs. The portion below the skull depicts Lake Michigan's waves and the 616 area code is hidden within the eyes. See more »
Lynchburg Hillcats - Limonadas de Hill City
While the Hillcats, who are new to the Copa field in 2023, don’t specifically use sugar skull design, their logo is an actual skull, belonging to Señor Agrio or Mr. Sour. See more »
Rocky Mountain Vibes - Lloronas de Montaña Rocosa
One of the spookiest identities to ever hit Copa, the Pioneer League club is one of five Partner League teams to participate in Copa. The Vibes debuted the Lloronas identity in 2019. They describe their logo as a "cursed ghost mother, dressed in a white gown, forsaken to roam rivers and creeks throughout the Southwest in search of her lost children." The image of the weeping woman in the logo, of course, features calaveras design.
Gerard Gilberto is a reporter for MiLB.com.