May the Fourth be with you! Today calls for a celebration of one of the most beloved film series of all-time: Star Wars. For our contribution to Star Wars Day, we will use this week’s Promotions Watch to look at some of the best Star Wars nights around Minor League Baseball.
This past weekend, several teams took the opportunity to celebrate Star Wars in advance of May the Fourth. Those promotions featured some of this season’s most unique themed jerseys, thanks to contributions from clubs such as the Round Rock Express (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) and a pair of class AA Southern League teams in the Mississippi Braves and the Jackson Generals. Even before the weekend teams were getting in on the act—the Charlotte Knights (Class AAA; International League) hosted Star Wars Knight on April 28, while the Myrtle Beach Pelicans (High Class A; Carolina League) celebrated Star Wars on April 24.
Even with those promotions in the rear-view mirror, there are still plenty of eye-catching Star Wars nights left this season. Today, the Carolina Mudcats (High Class A; Carolina League) will host May the Fourth Night. During this promotion, the Mudcats will make a pre-game donation to the Eastern North Carolina Make-A-Wish Foundation and fans who wear Star Wars costumes will be able to purchase $6.00 tickets. Another Star Wars night comes from the Omaha StormChasers (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League), who will feature the promotion in conjunction with a post-game fireworks show on May 8.
May features some of the most interesting Star Wars nights this season. On May 8, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs (Class AAA; International League) will take the field wearing a jersey that features Hans Solo frozen in carbonite. The jerseys will be available for auction during the game as a benefit for local charities, and fans can submit bids via text message. During this elaborate tribute, the IronPigs will welcome a chapter of the 501st Legion, a costume organization that specializes in Star Wars characters.
Elsewhere in the International League, the Durham Bulls will celebrate Star Wars on May 16. As evidenced by their recent Game of Thrones night, the Bulls have established a successful formula in planning and marketing their specialty jerseys, which usually includes an annual nod to Star Wars. This year, the Bulls will take the field wearing a uniform top that is inspired by C-P30’s torso. Star Wars night will be held alongside Autism Awareness night, with proceeds from jersey auction benefitting the Autism Society of NC. There will be a silent auction at Durham Bulls Athletic Park, but fans who are not in attendance will still be able to submit bids online or via phone.
Rounding out a trio of International League Star Wars nights in May is the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. During their May 23rd game, the RailRiders will give away 2,500 CHAMP-Vader Bobble Waists. The RailRiders have made Star Wars a staple on their promotional schedule since the renovated PNC Field reopened in 2013.
Towards the end of May, the Altoona Curve (Class AA; Eastern League) will roll out a jersey that has already received a good deal of coverage. During their Star Wars night on May 30, the Curve will don a drooling Jabba the Hut jersey. With Jabba’s face surrounded by just about every shade of green imaginable, this design ensures that this uniform will resonate with fans long after the promotion has ended. Along with an in-person and online jersey auction that benefits the St. Vincent De Paul Society Soup Kitchen, the Curve will incorporate a lightsaber battle as part of their post-game fireworks show.
Later in the year, there will still be plenty of unique Star Wars nights to attend. The Clinton LumberKings (Low Class A; Midwest League) are among the teams that will host the promotion in June, as they will host their first ever Star Wars night on the 20th. Special Yoda-themed jerseys will be worn that night, while the LumberKings are also encouraging fans to be a part of experience by wearing their Star Wars gear to Ashford University Field. The Lakewood BlueClaws (Low Class A; Sally League) and the Bowie Baysox (Class AA; Eastern League) are also among the clubs with Stars Wars nights on their promotional dockets in June, as they will host their promotions on the sixth and 13th respectively. Another noteworthy Star Wars promo in June comes from the New Hampshire FisherCats (Class AA; Eastern League), who will wear Darth Vader-themed uniform tops on the 20th.
The Star Wars trend carries over into the minor league season’s final two months, with the Buffalo Bisons (Class AAA; International League) wearing one of this year’s more interesting uniforms on July 18. As part of a night that was covered in our very first Promotions Watch of the year, the Bisons will wear Jedi Robe jerseys. The Bisons have hosted Star Wars nights in each of the past seven seasons, and they have proven to be a solid draw at Coca-Cola Field: Last year’s promo led to a paid attendance of over 18,000 fans.
This summer will also feature two teams celebrating Star Wars as part of a weekend-long promotion. The Midland RockHounds (Class AA; Texas League) are hosting a Star Wars Weekend from July 16-18, which will be headlined by stormtrooper jerseys. For one night in their GEEKend2, the Lake Elsinore Storm (High Class A; California League) will celebrate Star Wars with an extensive slate that includes an appearance from the 501st Legion as well as movie-themed in-game promotions. GEEKend2 runs from June 11-14 at The Diamond.
Elsewhere over the summer, look for Star Wars nights from the Sacramento RiverCats (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) and the Bradenton Marauders (High Class A; Florida State League). Sacramento will feature a Star Wars night in conjunction with a firework show and Boy Scout Night on July 10, while Bradenton will host a special jersey auction on July 18.
The last Star Wars promotion to be featured comes from the Birmingham Barons (Class AA; Southern League). Slated for August 15, the Barons’ turn at Star Wars night has been marketed heavily since the winter, beginning with a February Facebook poll that allowed fans to choose from one of three jerseys to be worn that night.
In March, the Barons revealed the winner of the contest: An Imperial Stormtrooper armor jersey. Considering that the Barons received more than 1,500 votes in the poll, their efforts not only validate the popularity of Star Wars promotions, but show the role social media can play in fan interaction.
As a trend that has been going strong for several seasons, Star Wars nights are unlikely to slow down anytime soon. Not only could the upcoming Star Wars: Episode VII spark further interest, but even at the major league level several teams—including the Cincinnati Reds, Colorado Rockies, Milwaukee Brewers, Oakland A’s, St. Louis Cardinals, and Washington Nationals—are getting in on the act. Regardless of which Star Wars night or nights you decide to take in this year, May the Fourth be with you!