It’s Star Wars day in Lansing and the Lugnuts celebrated May the Fourth by using the force to get the home crowd fired up. It should be mentioned that the Lugnuts are the providers of some of the best promotions in the Midwest League, inaugurating a new tradition this year by bringing in Humphrey the Camel on Wednesday night games for a “Hump Day” promotion.
A strong Sunday crowd of 4,090 was in attendance in Lansing and had their chance to take pictures on the field with Star Wars heroes, with some of the usual in-game entertainment staff in costume as well as members of a local Star Wars legion, a group who dress up in costume and head to local events. Of course, the biggest hit with the crowd was Big Lug, the Lugnuts’ mascot, who was dressed as a Jedi.
The Star Wars themed people were certainly present on the concourse and on the field in between innings. Darth Vader, Boba Fett and several stormtroopers threw out the first pitch for the Lugnuts. The costumed cadre supervised on-field games, trivia and participated in some pretty bizarre events. My favorite was a dance contest between Big Lug and Jango Fett (Jango won).
The game on the field was certainly secondary to some of the fans but it was a briskly-paced, exciting game that featured excellent pitching performances from home team starter Chase De Jong and visiting hurler Chad Green. De Jong went five scoreless innings, giving up four hits and one walk with two strikeouts while Green threw seven, allowing a run on six hits and two walks with four strikeouts. Carrying a 1-0 lead into the ninth, Phil Kish came on for Lansing (after three outstanding innings from Alonzo Gonzalez who struck out five) but a two-out rally (including RBI singles from Ben Verlander and Jose Zambrano) sunk the Lugnuts’ ship, ending with a 2-1 loss.
As part of the Lugnuts’ charity activities, some of the proceeds of the event go to help out Capital Area United Way charities in the Lansing area.