An Epic Trilogy
Nearly 40 years after Episode IV: A New Hope opened in theaters, one of the nation's most successful film franchises maintains a "Force"-ful link with the National Pastime in American popular culture.
Star Wars-related terms quickly worked their way into the American idiom in 1977, and it did not take long for the baseball media to join the parade. By June, Star Wars phrases were making their way into the sports reports, and the headline writers were taking full advantage of this cultural phenomenon before postseason play began.
Baseball fandom was already in place, but since 1977 the Star Wars series has created its own legion of followers. Several generations of baseball fans and science fiction buffs have grown to enjoy the celebration of both passions at the ballpark. Multiple major league and minor league teams have sponsored Star Wars Days, often held on May the 4th (be with you). These dates include fan favorite giveaways such as bobbleheads and Death Star baseballs. These have become popular memorabilia items, with several examples making their way into the Baseball Hall of Fame artifact collection.
Away from the ballpark, baseball and Star Wars have mixed to create a series of themed baseball caps, and even a comic book with cover art in which Darth Vader swings from the right side of the plate, although one assumes that he might be decent switch-hitter since the Force is supposedly with him. This phenomenon is not restricted to North America, as the Japanese leagues have utilized the popularity of the Star Wars franchise to promote their product.
May the Force be with you, but remember, it always helps to have a good lefty in the bullpen.
Jim Gates is the Librarian at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum