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Volume 22 No. 27
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MiLB, teams had record merchandising sales in 2018

Minor League Baseball and its 160 clubs in the U.S. and Canada combined to  a record $73.9 million in merchandise sales last year, according to data scheduled to be released this week by MiLB.

That’s up 4% from 2017’s $70.9 million and marks the category’s ninth straight annual increase.  

The Charleston RiverDogs, a Yankees Class A affiliate, had another strong year.
The Copa craze: Every participating MiLB team saw at least a 6% jump in sales thanks to the Copa de la Diversión initiative. The San Antonio Mission transformed into the Flying Chanclas.
The Albuquerque Isotopes transformed into the Mariachis de Nuevo México.

Although the league does not separate out the merchandise sales of specific marketing campaigns, last season’s increase was certainly helped by the success of the nascent Hispanic/Latino fan engagement initiative Copa de la Diversión, or Fun Cup, according to Brian Earle, MiLB’s head of licensing and consumer products. In 2018, 33 clubs collaborated with their local Hispanic community to create culturally relevant personas that represent their region’s Hispanic/Latino heritage. Then, during a total of 163 games, players wore uniforms that bore those logos. MiLB had projected that participating clubs would generate an overall revenue increase of 6% and every team exceeded that goal, Earle said.  

Other observations from the data:

 The Durham Bulls are the only team to be on the list every year since 1993, the first season MiLB tracked sales data. Seven other clubs have made it every year of their existence, and 2015 was the only year that the Portland Sea Dogs failed to make the list.

 Since 1993, Class AAA teams have made up 41% of the listings, 26% have been AA, 8% have been A-Advanced, 21% have been A and 4% have been Short Season-A. No rookie-level team has ever made the merchandise top 25. 

 International League teams made up 23% of the all-time list, followed by the Pacific Coast League with 17%.

 29 of the 121 different monikers that have made a top 25 list either no longer exist or have been changed, including those in eight markets that no longer have an MiLB club.