Storm Troopers, Ewoks and Jawas paced around the gates of Avista Stadium on Friday, each happily taking selfies with the throngs of Spokane Indians fans enjoying the club’s popular Star Wars Night.
The 97-degree heat wasn’t as scorching as the fiery planet of Mustafar, but Darth Vader sure felt it under his thick, black suit.
The ruthless chief enforcer threw the game’s honorary first pitch, and in true Vader fashion used the Force to knock over Spokane Indians slugger Curtis Terry, who was on the receiving end of the toss.
Indians hurler Hans “Solo” Crouse went on to strike out 11 hitters in just seven innings of work in a 2-1 win over the Eugene Emeralds, in front of a sellout crowd.
The night concluded with the glow of light sabers in the crowd as fireworks lit up the sky.
“As long as they keep making Stars Wars movies, we’re going to keep doing Star Wars Night,” Indians Senior Vice President Otto Klein said. “It’s such a generational thing and that speaks to us.”
In its third year, the Stars Wars Night promotion brought a spectrum of fans of the popular franchise to the ballpark. Spectators saw more than a dozen Stars Wars characters in costume, listened to the movie’s iconic tunes, played trivia and saw the latest edition of the Indians’ Star Wars-themed jerseys.
One of the most feared bounty hunters in the galaxy, Boba Fett, graced the front of the white jerseys this season.
Over the past three years, minor league ballclubs around the country have jumped on the Star Wars Night wave, each coming out with their own creatively designed jerseys.
Dan Myers, a traffic sign tech for Spokane County, donned an Albuquerque Isotopes jersey with Chewbacca on the front, one of his 36 Star Wars-themed minor league tops.
“These jerseys are unique,” Myers said. “They make for pretty good conversation pieces.”
His jerseys were the source of many conversations, as each was on display between Avista Stadium’s entrance and the field.
A couple of years ago, Myers said, he was able to get his hands on his first Star Wars jersey after a Spokane Indians game and a hobby quickly grew. Myers said he purchased each jersey on online bidding sites, spending as much as $500.
Fans made bids for the game’s player-worn jerseys Friday, with proceeds going to the Mark Rypien Foundation. The bidding table was surrounded by Myers’ display, which caught thousands of eyeballs.
“I’m glad people can see all of (the jerseys),” Myers said. “It brings a sense of pride. And it’s a good way to give back to the community.”
Randy Glenn, who dressed as Darth Vader and leads a local chapter of Star Wars characters that often serves at events around the community, said he was happy to help a great cause.
“It’s amazing to be around all the fans who love Star Wars,” Glenn said.
Stars Wars Night continues Saturday night at Avista Stadium where the Indians host the Emeralds again at 6:30.