milb copa luchadores

‘Luchadores de Reading’ Is One Of The Wrestling-Themed Teams In MiLB’s Copa de la Diversión Program

MiLB recently announced their “Copa de la Diversión” program would return in 2021. Now in its fifth year, the initiative is a season-long celebration of Hispanic communities and their history. This year, 76 of the 120 teams in the Minor Leagues will take part in the program, one of which will be the Luchadores de Reading.

The ‘Luchadores de Reading’ is the Copa identity of the Reading (PA) Fightin’ Phils, the double-A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies. The club had previously used “Peleadores” as their Copa nickname.

Reading’s “Luchadores” name is described as representing “the organization’s commitment to fight for a better tomorrow for its city” and it is “wrapped in layers of symbolism, including physical city landmarks and representations of industry and heritage.” Other teams with wrestling-themed names in the program include the Sacramento Dorados (Sacramento River Cats) and Fenómenos Enmascarados del Valle de Hudson (Hudson Valley Renegades).

“Sports have a unique and powerful ability to bring diverse communities together,” said Kurt Hunzeker, vice president of Minor League business operations for MLB. “You’re at a ballgame, and you can sit next to people, front, behind, left, right, they can be wildly different from you in every way, politically, socioeconomic, demographic. And yet in San Antonio when I was there, Fernando Tatis Jr. hits a home run, you’re high-fiving everyone around you.”

Hunzeker was one of the leaders at MiLB who piloted the Copa program in 2017, and what began with a handful of teams on short runs has turned into a community engagement and sports marketing juggernaut.

“We’re entering year five of a platform that continues to grow and get better because now the power is 100 percent with the participating teams,” Hunzeker said. “They’re the ones working with their local Hispanic chambers of commerce and civic organizations. Their businesses are transforming. It’s not just a few games a year on a promotional calendar. They’ve hired differently. They’ve gone out in the community and connected authentically in ways they never had before.”

The Copa program will also include cultural education, bilingual PA announcements and diverse stadium vendors that is designed to be a “comprehensive reshaping of the baseball experience” that will continue to grow each year. Fans can buy merchandise for the Reading club and all of the participating teams at this link.

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