It seemed a prank when the news first flashed on Twitter: The New Orleans Class AAA baseball franchise has changed its nickname to Baby Cakes.

You laugh, but this is no joke: The New Orleans Baby Cakes.

From the new New Orleans Baby Cakes website,

Baby Cakes was selected from a group of seven finalists following an online “Name the Team” contest, with more than 3,000 submissions … “Our goal was to give the baseball fans of New Orleans a team and identity they can call their own,” said Baby Cakes President Lou Schwechheimer. “New Orleans is full of traditions woven into the fabric of the city, and this new tradition will be something local and iconic and celebrate what makes New Orleans and Minor League Baseball so great: family and fun.”

Rick Cleveland
Rick Cleveland

Baby Cakes? A New Orleans tradition? Do tell. King Cakes are definitely a New Orleans tradition. Beignets are a New Orleans tradition. Hurricanes (the drink, and the storm) are New Orleans traditions. Come to think of it, hangovers are a New Orleans tradition. Muffulettas – Muffs for short? – are a New Orleans tradition. Jazz is a New Orleans tradition. Unfortunately, Utah, perhaps the least jazziest place on the planet, stole that one when the New Orleans NBA team double-dribbled its way out to Salt Lake City.

You ask me, the Utah Jazz are the ones who should hold a nickname contest.

Baby Cakes? Betty Crocker has a recipe for Baby Cakes. I googled it. The photo looks suspiciously like cupcakes. There is no mention of New Orleans.

Nevertheless, I love the idea of a unique nickname. Where Delta State is concerned, I prefer Fighting Okra to Statesmen. Okra don’t fight, you say? What the heck. Statesmen don’t play ball, either. And don’t get me started on Lady Statesmen. If they weren’t always so good, you’d swear they must have an identity crisis.

Mississippi is a state filled with unique sports nicknames. Yes, we have our share of Lions and Tigers and Bears, but we have some real doozies, too. My favorite of all-time: The St. Stanislaus Rock-a-Chaws, located in lovely Bay St. Louis just across Beach Road from the Gulf of Mexico. The Rock-a-Chaws have successfully competed in many sports for decades. But, still, you ask, Rock-a-Chaw?

The word comes from a Choctaw word meaning devil grass. A rock-a-chaw is a prickly burr that grows prolifically in the sandy soil along the Gulf Coast. Step on one bare-footed and you will know it – and you will not holler “Rock-a-Chaw!”

The St. Stanislaus Rock-a-Chaw.
The St. Stanislaus Rock-a-Chaw

The nickname goes all the way back to 1916. Brother Macarius Pierce, a school principal with an obvious sense of humor and a way with words, came up with the name. He also wrote an ode to his Rock-a-Chaws: “What are they? Tis my task to tell: They’ve got the meanness of devils from hell. They’re the most consistent, persistent pest, that puts a man’s patience to the test. They lie in wait with fiendish glee, for the innocent hand or foot or knee. And they stick with an affection denying all laws. The rancorous, cantankerous Rock-a-Chaws!”

Now, that’s a nickname.

urchinsAnd then there are the East Union Urchins, once known as the East Union Epic Urchins, the E.U. E.U.s, as it were. (The girls teams are, naturally, the Urchinettes.) Look up urchin in the dictionary. You first find: “A playful or mischievous youngster; a scamp.” Some of the East Union Urchins might have been just that, but you’ll have to read that elsewhere – or get it from their parents.

The East Union Urchins apparently are a play on sea urchins. The school mascot is a seahorse, which is where a science teacher should have intervened. A real, live sea urchin is a small, globular, prickly creature that looks absolutely nothing like a seahorse.

But why quibble? Makes at least as much sense as the New Orleans Baby Cakes – not to mention the Utah Jazz.

Rick Cleveland is Mississippi Today’s sports columnist. Read his previous columns and his Sports Daily blog. Reach Rick at









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Rick Cleveland, a native of Hattiesburg and resident of Jackson, has been Mississippi Today’s sports columnist since 2016. A graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi with a bachelor’s in journalism, Rick has worked for the Monroe (La.) News Star World, Jackson Daily News and Clarion Ledger. He was sports editor of Hattiesburg American, executive director of the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame. His work as a syndicated columnist and celebrated sports writer has appeared in numerous magazines, periodicals and newspapers.
Rick has been recognized 13 times as Mississippi Sports Writer of the Year, and is recipient of multiple awards and honors for his reporting and writing.