Editor’s Note: As part of our occasional Way Back Wednesday feature, today we travel back to a column written long, long ago, in a Gigaplex far, far away on May 3, 2013. In this column, we covered the unofficial holiday of Star Wars Day in the pre-Disney+ era of Baby Yoda. As you await the return of the aforementioned Baby Yoda while practicing your Jedi mind tricks, please enjoy this column on how the world of baseball celebrates Star Wars Day and as always, May the Fourth be with you.
For years, Minor League Baseball teams have looked to wacky promotions and giveaways to help attract crowds and give the fans a little something extra besides a seat at a ballgame.
There are the Ballpark standards of hat and seat cushion giveaways.
However, what I am talking about are the really outside the box promotions that make you both say, “I can’t believe no one ever thought of that before,” while also saying, “I can’t believe someone thought of that.”
In terms of the memorable crazy promotions, there have been promotions of every shape and size.
Teams have had Harry Potter themed nights. Teams have had speed dating nights. There was even a team that thought the biblical figure Noah, of the Ark building fame, needed his own bobble head figure. The list goes on and on regarding both good and bad promotions in the Ballpark.
With all of that past pedigree of promotions, and with tomorrow marking a holiday of sorts for fans of a certain science fiction franchise, it marks a perfect opportunity for yet another creative ballpark promotion.
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, teams have celebrated May 4th in the ballpark. Realistically though, 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.
That’s right boys and girls I said Wookie Jerseys.
The Detroit Tigers’ Triple-A Affiliate the Toledo Mud Hens are going to celebrate both May the fourth and May the fifth wearing jerseys that look like a Wookie complete with utility belt.
Thankfully, the team opted away from the faux hair version of the jersey and will instead go with a more diamond appropriate version where the fur is implied.
This is probably a very wise decision. No player wants to have an error assigned to them because they lost a ball in their Wookie hair.
I am also thinking it would be hard for the pitcher to read the signs from the catcher with all of that hair getting in the way.
So far, there has been no word on whether the special Wookie jerseys will be available for sale to the general public. But as Darrell Hammond impersonating Sean Connery said to Will Ferrell who was impersonating Alex Trebek on Saturday Night Live’s parody of Celebrity Jeopardy, “You’re sitting on a gold mine, Trebek.”
I expect in the coming days that Wookie jerseys will be available in the Mud Hens team store. After all, who wouldn’t want a Wookie jersey?
While this is most likely the first-time players have dressed up as a Wookie, 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.
As mentioned before, there have been numerous other teams who have honored Star Wars in various ways on both the Major and Minor League levels by encouraging fans to wear their favorite Star Wars Cosplay outfits.
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.
How will I be spending Star Wars Day this year? At a ballpark of course.
And while there will not be any Wookie jerseys on the field, rumor has it that there will be a Star Wars themed fireworks show to fill the night sky.
Baseball, hot dogs, and pyrotechnics, it doesn’t get much better than that.
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 2023 R Anderson