Space N’ Vaders at the Ballpark

“Star Wars Night” promotions, an idea first conceived by the West Michigan Whitecaps, have become an annual staple throughout the industry. I’m not a fan of the films (blasphemy, I know) but there is absolutely no disputing the fact that “Star Wars Night” results in a high level of fan engagement which, in turn, leads to some fantastic ballpark visuals.

For proof of all this, let’s take a look at the Toledo Mud Hens (semi) recent “May the Fourth Be With You” extravaganza.

The team advertised festivities such as the following, bullet-pointed for your pleasure:

  • LED Light Stick Giveaway (first 2,000 fans)
  • Appearances by Star Wars characters, including Darth Vader, Chewbacca, Storm Troopers, and more
  • Star Wars costume contest (with prizes!) and on-field parade
  • Chewbacca to throw out ceremonial first pitch
  • Star Wars-themed food and beverage items
  • Star Wars sound effects and music throughout the game
  • Kazoo Giveaway (first 5,000 fans) to be used in a Star Wars ‘kazoo-along’ prior to postgame fireworks
  • Star Wars-themed “May the Fourth Be With You” postgame fireworks

And, indeed, such festivities did occur. Here are some gems from the team’s Facebook page:

Hey, Yoda, turn around and look at the camera!

There you go:

If the above six pictures were worth approximately 6000 words, then this video recap should be good for about 35k more (I did the math). Chewbacca toes the slab!

Finally, the team asked fans to provide a caption for this first-pitch photo (as the video above amply illustrates, Chewy fired a strike).

The results were decidedly mixed, as they often are with this kind of thing (one fan simply wrote: “I was in the elevator with him!”) I think my favorite was “The San Diego Chicken has really let himself go.”

Before I shuffle off of this mortal coil (that’s slang for “end a blog post”), I’ll share a video of (relatively) recent vintage.

This one, produced for Richmond’s “Flying Squirrels Insider” show, is great. Broadcaster Jon Laaser instructs Giants catching prospect Tommy Joseph on how not to build upper body strength and being unready at the plate.

“You gotta get noodly with the legs!”

And since we’re kinda-sorta on the topic of “amateur attempts to do the job of a professional,” here’s an audio link to my inning on the air with Brice Zimmerman of the Fort Myers Miracle. I’m actually kind of proud of it, because if you’re going to fail you may as well do so spectacularly.

Listen HERE, and, please, let me know if you have any advice on how I could do a better job next time.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

5 Comments

Ben,
Since we had a day game yesterday and a day off today I must be in some type of withdrawal as I listened to your entire broadcast from Fort Myers this morning over breakfast. Your blog is great and actually getting to hear you was a treat.

I am the manual scoreboard operator for the Durham Bulls. I am in my fifth year with the Bulls. Some people think I am pretty crazy to even consider doing the job but where else I am going to be interviewed and videoed by a nine year old for his school report, “Best Job in the World”?

If you get near Durham let me know and you can help me with the scoreboard not to be confused with score bored. We have had Hadeki Matusi, Dice-K, and Youkliss here the past week making for an exciting home stand.

Looking forward to reading more about your Florida adventures. I went to spring training for the first time this year and enjoyed seeing your pictures, especially those behind the scoreboard at Jet Blue.

Take care,

Chris

Civy7@aol.com

Hey Chris –

Thanks so much for reading, and the kind words. I was in Durham last July, and loved it there. Sorry I missed you that time around, but I hope to be back soon! You definitely have an enviable job, and next time I’m out there I’d love to check out the scoreboard.

And congrats on making it through my “play-by-play.” I had a lot of fun with that, despite (or perhaps because of) how hard it was to keep track of everything.

You displayed the energy of a Tom Hamilton home run call and the depth of a Vin Scully yarn…

No video footage of the kazoo-along? That is unfortunate.

That’s probably because it was ho-hum.

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