The End of an Era: New Orleans Baby Cakes’ Last Home Game

WICHITA, KS - AUGUST 06: Pitcher Tim Hudson #15 of the Kansas Stars delivers a pitch against the Colorado Xpress in the second inning during the NBC World Series on August 6, 2016 at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium in Wichita, Kansas. (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images)
WICHITA, KS - AUGUST 06: Pitcher Tim Hudson #15 of the Kansas Stars delivers a pitch against the Colorado Xpress in the second inning during the NBC World Series on August 6, 2016 at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium in Wichita, Kansas. (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images) /
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Tonight starting at 7:00 PM CDT, the New Orleans Baby Cakes will host the Memphis Redbirds in the final home game at Shrine on Airline.

That’s not just the final home game of the 2019 season in New Orleans, but the swan song of the Baby Cakes at the stadium. No plans have yet been announced as to whether there will be a replacement club for next season. The Miami Marlins triple-A affiliate is moving to Wichita, Kansas, where by all accounts they’ll be known as the Wichita 29ers, or maybe not. I’m partial to either “Land Sharks,” or “Sky Cows,” but what do I know.

The Miami Marlins have been tied to the New Orleans triple-A franchise for 11 seasons now, since they went by the “Zephyrs” and the Marlins went by “Florida.” Prior to that, the Marlins fielded the Albuquerque Isotopes from 2003-2008, the Calgary Cannons from 1999-2002, the Charlotte Knights from 1995-1998, and the Edmonton Trappers in 1993 and 1994. The Jupiter Hammerheads remain the Miami Marlins affiliate with the longest affiliation, 18 seasons strong.

With a win in tonight’s game, the Baby Cakes can secure a winning record for only the second time in 11 tries with the Marlins. They were 73-67 back in 2012, and came close in 2013 with a 72-72 mark. Despite their improvement, New Orleans has been eliminated from postseason contention for nearly a week now, due to playing in the tough PCL American Southern Division. If the team wins three of their final five games, they will have posted their all-time best record since affiliating with the Miami Marlins.

Like the Miami Marlins, the Baby Cakes struggled to get fans in the seats this season, and ranked last in the 16-team PCL with only 183,321 paid in attendance as of this story. That’s a 2,910 average per game, or 2,000 less than the 15th place Omaha Storm Chasers. Incidentally, the Las Vegas Aviators lead the circuit with 9,241 drawn per game.

But the fans missed out on a lot. Through the first half of the season, hot-shot prospect Zac Gallen tore through the mostly hitter-friendly league with a 9-1 record, a 1.77 ERA, a 0.71 WHIP, and 112 K’s in 91 1/3 innings. All of those figures led the PCL at the time of his promotion.

Miami Marlins
MIAMI, FL – JUNE 09: Austin Dean #44 of the Miami Marlins celebrates at home plate after hitting a home run in the first inning against the Atlanta Braves at Marlins Park on June 9, 2019 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

Austin Dean has led the Cakes offense by hitting .337/.401/.635 in 73 games, with 18 round-trippers and 57 RBI. Now-major league regular Isan Diaz clubbed 26 homers in 102 games for them, hitting .305/.395/.578 with 70 RBI. Olympic Silver medalist Eddy Alvarez (speed skating) has hit .311/.399/.562 in 62 games in his bid for the major leagues, with 12 homers and 12 stolen bases in 15 attempts.

Also logging significant time with the Cakes this year was number six prospect Monte Harrison, new addition and number three ranked Jesus Sanchez, and right-handed starter Nick Neidert, ranked 12th. Rankings courtesy of the MLB Pipeline.

Wichita has roots in the minor leagues dating all the way back to 1887, when the Wichita Braves held court. Later, the Wichita Eagles, Jobbers, Witches, Izzies, Larks, Aviators, Oilers, Indians, the Braves again, the Aeros, the Pilots, and most recently the Wranglers, from 1989 through 2007. H/t to baseball reference.

From 2008 until 2018, Wichita has been home to the Wichita Wingnuts in the independent American Association. The team folded after the 2018 season when the city of Wichita paid $2.2 million to them to break their lease so they could demolish Lawrence-Dumont Stadium. They did this, of course, to attract a minor league team with a new stadium.

For more on the Miami Marlins and all of their affiliates, past and present (and, uh, future), like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. Subscribe to our newsletter to keep up with all Marlins developments.

Next. Avoiding the Dreaded 100-Loss Season. dark

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