Last night I took my five year old son Landon to his first baseball game. What made it all the more memorable for him was that it just so happened to be Star Wars Night with the Bowie Baysox, a minor league AA team affiliated with the Baltimore Orioles. What made it more fun for me was that while Landon knew he was going to a baseball game with Daddy, he had no clue that it was doubling as a Star Wars event. As an indication of how Star Wars is woven into the fabric of our family, the fact that I had us both in Star Wars shirts and that we were blaring Star Wars music in the car on the way to the game had no affect on the boy. We do that daily anyway!
Needless to say, upon walking in the stadium, his eyes were as big as saucers when he first laid eyes on Vader. Of course this is right about the time Landon also got really shy. So we hung out and watched others get their pictures taken with Vader and some stormtroopers before we decided to mosey around. Various tables promoting raffles, charity events, the Rebel Legion, the Defenders of the Force, and the 501st were displayed around the concourse. There were a couple of R2 units rolling around (courtesy of the R2 Builders Club) and kids with lightsabers as far as the eye could see. Apparently Star Wars Night is a popular night at the minor league ballpark and everyone seemed to be having a great time.
Eventually Landon grew more confident and he got some pictures taken with Darth Maul, R2, some Jedi with Maris Brood, and a photogenic pint-sized Jedi. But what really got his attention were the last that we stumbled across, the clones. When Landon caught sight of a group of clone troopers at the end of the left field side of the concourse, he practically dragged me over with a grin from ear to ear. Thanks to all of the costumed participants last evening. Each one was nicer than the next and were excellent with all the children and parents eager for photographs.
As for the game itself, things kicked off with a Jawa stealing the first pitch ball from an Imperial Officer. The Jawa then proceeded to run the ball over to the catcher. Landon found this particularly funny. Various Star Wars activites popped up between innings that included video clips, trivia, performances from the DDP Drill Team, a podrace-inspired sack race and more. A recurring activity was a lightsaber battle tournament to determine the champion Jedi. Two sets of Jedi would battle it out with the victor moving on to the next round. This occurred between innings and typically featured a battle on the first and third base lines.
The lightsaber battles came to a climax following the end of the game. As they brought out the winning Jedi, two Sith appeared; one was a female (Maris Brood from The Force Unleashed I believe) and the other was an unnamed Sith with a double bladed lightsaber. Three Jedi then took on the two Sith in a battle that ended up with two of the Jedi and one of the Sith "dead." Just as it seemed that the double-bladed lightsaber Sith was about to defeat the remaining Jedi, a number of blue and green lightsabers were lit as other Jedi, including the Baysox mascot, came to the aid of their Jedi companion. The Sith fled and the crowd, including Landon and I, cheered for the performance.
Following the battles, there was maybe a five-minute wait and then the fireworks show began. They were fantastic and I think this may have been the first time that I've seen fireworks with Star Wars music playing in the background. We were halfway through the Star Wars opening title theme when I realized that Landon and I were both singing the music while cheering on the fireworks. At some point the music switched to Jump from Van Halen. I promptly turned to Landon and asked if he remembered when David Lee Roth popped up in Star Wars. He looked at me like the idiot I was for asking a 5 year old that question and then we started cheering for the fireworks once more.
The very second that the fireworks finale concluded, I taught Landon our fine family tradition of running to the car to beat traffic out of the parking lot. He thought that was a riot. We headed out of the parking lot, with the windows down, while blaring the Anakin vs. Obi-Wan theme from Ep. III, and with the majority of the crowd still walking to their cars. Mission accomplished!
This was a heck of a way to get to take my son to his first baseball game. Thanks again to all of the Star Wars fans and costumers who helped created a fantastic atmosphere for the kids. Thanks as well to Matt from Baysox PR for helping us to seats right behind home plate.
If you have a youngling that you'd like to introduce to baseball, and you live in the Baltimore/Washington DC metro areas, the Bowie Baysox should be your destination. As opposed to MLB teams, prices are more affordable, the kids get a better close-up view of the action, and the stadium has a kids-themed area complete with a merry-go-round, moon bounce and other games.
Oh, and the Baysox lost to Binghampton 4-1. There's your TFN sports report!
(Click on any of the thumbnail images above for full views.)