This Sunday is May 4th and in many Ballparks in galaxies both near and far, far away teams will be celebrating in blockbuster ways in honor of a little science fiction franchise that first hit the global scene before most of the current professional ballplayers were even born.
That science fiction franchise was Star Wars and for those who may not be aware, May 4th is known as Star Wars Day due to a pun surrounding a popular phrase found in the films.
That phrase of course is “May the force be with you,” which can easily translate to “May the fourth be with you.”
For years baseball teams have celebrated May 4th in the Ballpark but how many times can you really dust off that storm trooper costume to throw out the first pitch before it gets a feeling of been there done that?
With teams looking for creative and new ways to celebrate Star Wars Day it was only a matter of time then until May the Fourth was celebrated on a Minor League Baseball diamond in the form of players wearing Wookie jerseys.
The Wookie awakening occurred last year when the Detroit Tigers’ Triple-A Affiliate, the Toledo Mud Hens, celebrated both May the Fourth and May the Fifth wearing jerseys that looked like a Wookie complete with utility belt.
Thankfully, the team opted away from the faux hair version of the jersey and instead went with a more diamond appropriate version where the fur is implied.
Not to be outdone the Kane County Cougars, the Chicago Cubs Class A affiliate, went Wookie wild this year with a double dose of furry jerseys on May 2 and an encore planned for August 30.
While players dressing up as Wookie is a fairly new Ballpark trend it is not the first time that a Wookie, or at least an actor who played a Wookie, has been at a Minor League Ballpark.
During a May 1, 2010 game between the Oklahoma City Red Hawks and the New Orleans Zephers Peter Mayhew, the actor who played Wookie extraordinaire Chewbacca, threw out the first pitch as part of the 30th Anniversary celebration of the original Star Wars film.
While Wookie jerseys have a certain been there done that feel to them after two years on the field, a pair of Minor League teams are upping their game this year when it comes to honoring characters from the Star Wars stable.
The Durham Bulls, Class Triple-A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays will celebrate May the fourth in R2-D2 uniforms while the Milwaukee Brewers Single-A affiliate Wisconsin Timber Rattlers will sport Darth Vader jerseys.
It seems that if a team is going to the trouble of wearing Darth Vader jerseys they should invite James Earl Jones, the man behind the voice of Vader, to announce the players.
Of course with James Earl Jones playing a pivotal role in Field of Dreams it seems even more appropriate to have his booming voice over the Ballpark public address system.
That truly would be a field of dreams to see James Earl Jones announcing a game with players dressed up as Darth Vader.
It would be made even more magical if the announcement was made using the Darth Vader voice box.
I imagine it would go a little something like this, “Now batting (insert breathing sounds), Ray (insert breathing sounds), Smith”
Of course players are not the only ones who get into the May the fourth festivities.
Often times fans dust off their finest galactic duds to head to the Ballpark as part of the celebration.
A few years back a complete regiment of Storm Troopers descended upon Minute Maid Park as part of the Houston Astros’ May the Fourth celebration.
While I have never dressed up as Boba Fett, I have attended games where ushers were dressed like Princess Leia. I have also been at games where the opposing players were made to look like Darth Vader and other villains on the Jumbo Tron.
It is all done in good fun and is kind of cool to see the worlds of film and baseball combine in such an entertaining way.
Another staple of many May the Fourth Ballpark celebrations is a post game fireworks show.
Baseball, hot dogs, and post game pyrotechnics, it doesn’t get much better than that.
With many more Star Wars films in the works it is unlikely that the May the Fourth phenomena will die down any time soon so it is best to just embrace it in the spirit of fun it is intended.
And in the spirit of full disclosure I am a much bigger fan of Star Trek than Star Wars but “Beam me up” Day and “Make it So Number One” Day just don’t seem to roll off the tongue as easily when it comes to a ballpark promotion.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go see if I can still make the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs. And May the fourth be with you.
Copyright 2014 R Anderson