A kinda long time ago in a galaxy not far away, exciting changes were happening, wondrous dreams were born and stars twinkled in the eyes of children of all ages.
The time was 1977. The place was here. A minor-league baseball team played at Cheney Stadium in what was the last season of the Tacoma Twins. A major-league baseball team played in the Kingdome in what was the first season of the Seattle Mariners.
And a small-budget science-fiction movie played in T-Town at the Roxy Theater at Ninth and Broadway. Back then, the movie was simply known as “Star Wars.”
For a generation that grew up swinging both light sabers and baseball bats, it was inevitable that these great American pastimes would eventually converge.
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But 38 years later? That’s not exactly like the Millennium Falcon making the Kessel run in less than 12 parsecs.
On Thursday, the Tacoma Rainiers finally hosted their first-ever Star Wars night, complete with theme music, special jerseys and costumed characters. (Zippy tagline: May the June Fourth be with you.)
The Rainiers’ big-league partner will follow in a few weeks with a Mariners Star Wars geekfest at Safeco Field. (Not-so-zippy tagline: May the June Nineteenth be with you?)
It promises to be a mash-up of one of the most successful movie franchises and least successful baseball franchises of all time.
The deadline for this column arrived before Thursday night’s game, so we can only guess what surprises the Rainiers had in store.
Given Rhubarb’s fondness for cross-dressing, maybe the mascot played the part of Princess Leia. (The white robe, we hope. Not the gold bikini.)
On the field, Darth Vader catcher masks would be cool.
At the refreshment stand, wookie cookies and bantha burgers would be delicious.
Also, ewok nuggets.
C’mon, you know you want to try one. Give in to the power of the dark side.
We’ve seen this movie before: If a baseball team is going to build a promotional stunt around a 1977 motion picture, Star Wars night is infinitely better than some other options – say, “Annie Hall” night or “Smokey and the Bandit” night or “Exorcist II: the Heretic” night.
But this sci-fi/fantasy hootenanny is about as original as a sixth film sequel.
Baseball teams around the country have been putting on Star Wars nights for several years, from the Los Angeles Dodgers to the Buffalo Bisons.
The most creative part is always the jerseys. The Toledo Mud Hens this year rolled out a limited-edition Chewbacca design. The Durham Bulls unveiled a C-3PO jersey.
The Rainiers kept things pretty tame for their first go-round. They went with futuristic lettering and an X-wing fighter jet, giving players the look of ride attendants at Space Mountain.
In the end, the home team provided a night of clean, Star Warsy fun for young padawans and elder Jedi masters alike.
And when you think about it, the movie series offers apt metaphors about the condition of baseball in the Pacific Northwest.
The Rainiers are a collection of spare parts, reclamation projects and restless young prototypes desperate to escape a forlorn backwater. They’re like droids trapped in the Jawas’ scrap wagon, forever traversing the sands of Tatooine.
And the Mariners? They’re like the Empire that keeps building bigger and more expensive Death Stars. Sure, they look scary at the beginning. But you know they’re gonna get blown to bits every time.
Oh, well: Sith happens.
Truth in advertising: The M’s have tried a variety of upbeat ad campaigns over the years — You gotta love these guys, True to the Blue, to name a few.
Jedi mind tricks, all of ‘em. If team promoters were honest, they’d borrow the immortal words of Han Solo.
Seattle Mariners — I’ve got a bad feeling about this.
Stevie’s in the house!: The Schnoz caught wind that legendary singer-songwriter Stevie Wonder dropped in at the Ted Brown Music store on Tacoma Mall Boulevard and hung out for more than an hour Wednesday evening.
He bought a music stand and a small amplifier for his harpejji (an electric stringed instrument), chatted with staff and customers, and posed for pictures.
“It was like he was just coming in and sitting in our living room; he was just so gracious,” said store manager Ellie Stevens. She said anyone who saw those fingers glide over the strings would never doubt who he was.
There are no Stevie Wonder concerts scheduled around here this week. He reportedly was in the area visiting a friend or family member.
No word on whether he stuck around for Star Wars night.