Star Wars theme jerseys are not a new phenomenon, but this year Minor League Baseball teams have really taken it up a notch.
The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers are Luke’s father, the Kane County Cougars are makin’ Wookiee, and the Durham Bulls are 2D2 (just to name a few examples). But one team just might have trumped them all, and that team is the Brooklyn Cyclones. On the evening of August 2, the Cyclones will become the “Sithclones.” And on that night they will wear these jerseys, with “Brooklyn” written out in Aurebesh (the high galactic alphabet).
For more information on this Padawan of a kind initiative, I now direct you to Cyclones director of communications Billy Harner:
Last season, the Cyclones held the first-ever Star Wars Night at MCU Park in front of a capacity crowd on Coney Island. It was such a success that we knew we needed to bring it back for the 2014 season. But how do you improve on a first-pitch from Darth Vader, light saber battles on the field, a meet and greet with Princess Leia, and a post-game family sleepover on the field? It was tough…but we found a way.
On Saturday, August 2nd, the first 2,500 fans in attendance will receive a Padawan Pee Wee bobblehead featuring our youngest mascot in the form of a Jedi Apprentice.
But that’s not all. The team will also be wearing one-of-a-kind Sithclones Jerseys on the field that evening which will be raffled off to benefit local charities. The jerseys feature the emblem of the Sith Empire on the right sleeve, and has “Brooklyn” spelt across the chest in “Aurebesh.”
“Best” is a subjective term, so whether these are the “best” Star Wars jerseys is a matter of debate. What isn’t up for the debate is this: these are the most terrifying Star Wars theme jerseys ever created. If I was at this game, I’d truly be concerned about the possibility of them gaining sentience.
And, lest we forget, the sure-to-go-national Star Wars promo comes on the heels of the Cyclones’ already-gone-national Seinfeld promo.
Sez the team:
On July 5, 1989, the “Seinfeld Chronicles” aired on NBC for the first time and 25 years later, the Cyclones will celebrate the “show about nothing” that has left an indelible mark on popular culture. The first 2,500 fans in attendance will receive a Keith Hernandez “Magic Loogie” Bobblehead. In addition, there will be non-stop Seinfeld themed entertainment from beginning to end. Yada yada yada…you’ll have an awesome night.
How do you say “Magic Loogie” in Aurebesh?
Hey, remember that thing I did yesterday? Where I wrote a bouillabaisse blog post that included a bunch of Minor League items thrown together in haphazard fashion? Well, that’s happening again, so buckle up the brain belt and drive right in!
After an extended liaison with the Pittsburgh Pirates, 2013 marks the State College Spikes’ return to being a Cardinals affiliate. And, wouldn’t you know it? The team now has a resident cardinal. (They’ve named him Ozzie, as in Smith.)
Minor League team stadium visitation by a species representing said team’s Major League affiliate are rare, though who among us can forget that time a crusty sailor took up residency at Clinton’s Ashford University Field after the LumberKings became a Mariners affiliate?
I’ll be visiting the West Michigan Whitecaps later this month — June 27th! — and if the ultra-spicy Squeeling Pig is available in gluten-free form then I’m definitely going to give it a try. Either way, it’s the only concession item I am aware of that requires a waiver.
In this video, some intrepid members of the team give it a try. No trips to the disabled list resulted.
I’ll also be visiting the Wisconsin Timber Rattler later this month — June 21 and 22! Think they’ll give me a ride in this sweet bullpen car?
I’ve written about Daytona super-fan Front Row Joe on several occasions, but little did I know that there is a Front Row Joe equivalent in good ol’ Curve PA. This Altoona Mirror article profiles Susan Mielnik, who has attended every Altoona Curve game since the franchise’s 1996 inception. Hats off to her!
I wrote about the Fort Wayne TinCaps rather brilliant Social Media Night jerseys in this week’s Promo Preview, which of course you read already. But that’s indicative of the team’s larger approach, as the TinCaps have been taking theme jerseys to new levels of transcendence all season. Just check out these 50’s Night duds:
TinCaps creative director Tony DesPlaines writes:
Designed in-house and produced by Wilson, these jerseys featured a beautiful green argyle design with a jukebox on one sleeve and the TinCaps logo on the opposite sleeve. The team thought they looked like golfers, but from the stands they looked great.
Speaking of theme jerseys, check out what the Omaha Storm Chasers wore during their Star Wars promo.
There’s more to this than meets the eye. Storm Chasers director of marketing and promotions Ben Hemmen explains:
May the FORCE be with you… The Omaha Force that is! It’s the second annual “What If… Night” presented by Autism Action Partnership featuring a unique Jersey auction…. Plus, it’s “Star Wars Night”! Dress up like your favorite Star Wars characters, help us find “Yoda” around the ballpark, hear Princess Leia sing the National Anthem, and meet Darth Vader. The force, Omaha & Jedi will definitely be strong at Werner Park Saturday night so it should not take a Jedi mind trick to tell you not to miss out on this special evening. What If… the Storm Chasers had been renamed the Omaha Force three years ago? Head out to Werner Park to find out!
More where all of this came from? Oh, you better believe it.
“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.
The West Michigan Whitecaps staged the first “Star Wars Night” in 2007, and since then the promotion has spread throughout the Minor League galaxy. And for good reason — it brings large groups of hardcore sci-fi enthusiasts to the ballpark (many who would not attend a game otherwise) while still remaining plenty accessible to the average fan.
The Omaha Royals staged their own version of “Star Wars Night” on Friday, significantly upping Midwest midichlorian levels. Thanks to my unceasing reportorial drive (read: ability to receive emails) I am now able to share some pictures and video.
Here, the evening’s roster of special guests make their way onto the field:
But first, Darth was tasked with throwing out the first pitch. The O-Royals player tasked with catching it was pitcher Louis Coleman, who must have felt light years away from Kansas City at that particular moment.
Another first pitch was tossed by Phil, who was there on behalf of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. His wish was to attend National Star Wars Convention in Orlando, and the O-Royals’ promo doubled as a special send-off.
Soon after the first pitch, a most unexpected announcement appeared on the videoboard.
And sure enough, Jason the stormtrooper was down on one knee:
The rest of the evening was perhaps not quite so dramatic, but there was nonetheless a lot going on.
Makin’ Wookiee on the Scoreboard:
A “Where’s Yoda” contest was staged, featuring the renowned Jedi master in a variety of ballpark locations:
Leia and Han go back-to-back:
There were no back-to-back home runs in the ballgame, but Portland’s Sean “Chewbacca” Kazmar (see above) did honor Han with a Solo shot in the third.
Thanks to O-Royals director of creative services Eldon Lindsay for sending the pictures along. If YOU have photos of a Minor League promotion then don’t hesitate to get in touch. Or, just make like the Lake County Captains and assert your promotional supremacy over the stadium PA:
If you disagree with this assertion, then you know where to find me.