MiLB New Orleans – Baseball on Tulane Avenue!

MiLB New Orleans - pelican stadium 1921

Pelican Stadium, 1921 (Mendes photo via HNOC, in the public domain)

Opening Day for MiLB New Orleans is almost here! The Pelicans are now our NBA basketball team, but we still have MiLB, with our Zephyrs.

Baseball is a Big Deal in New Orleans, and has been since the sport’s early days. We were a Spring Training spot for several teams in the early years of the 20th Century. Baseball is played at all levels here. Itty-bittys start with T-ball, moving up to the kids a bit older, using pitching machines. I’ve even seen some playgrounds where the teenage umpires pitch for both sides! As the kids get older, they move to pitching for themselves. Then they hit middle school, and the playground leagues get more organized and serious.

High school baseball is a big deal in New Orleans, with the Catholic League usually generating the most interest. At the college level, LSU Baseball is huge, given how often the Tigers and Lady Tigers make their respective NCAA tournaments. The University of New Orleans Privateers an Tulane Green Wave also have loyal fan bases. Over the years, the three-way rivalry between the these colleges has been promoted extensively, with challenge tournaments against schools from other states, even. The politics of NCAA baseball, particularly with three schools who are all in different conferences can be challenging, but when the fans want good baseball, it’s hard to say no.

Pelican Stadium, located on the corner of S. Carrollton and Tulane Avenues, in Mid City, was a great home to MiLB, and many were sad to see it torn down. By the time AAA ball returned to New Orleans, it made more sense to build a ballpark in the ‘burbs, and Zephyr Field, the “Shrine on Airline”, has worked out nicely.

Still, of all of these baseball games going on in and around town, it’s the AAA ballclub I like best. Major League Baseball teams play in “cathedrals”, but sometimes worshipping in a minor league “parish church” is more fun. Not to mention less expensive.

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