The 501st, a club of Star Wars fanatics, were out in force (no pun intended). Some bore a striking resemblance with the character they picked, like young Obi-Wan (third from right). Others not so much, like Princess Leia (in white).
I walked with Rob and his daughter to the parade marshaling ramp. We following a young lady and her son down the ramp, looking for others waiting to parade.
No one stopped us, and eventually we walked all the way to the right field gate. From there we stood for the next hour, watching the Phillies take batting practice.
Former Brave Jeff Francoeur was nearby, shagging flies with Ben Revere. Later I waved down relief pitcher Luis Garcia to toss balls to both kids in our small five person group. As we stood along the wall, unable to see the infield, a fast moving ground ball whizzed past us through the gate and into the groundskeeper's tractor garage.
For the most part the security guards stood out on the field and left us alone. At one point two of them retreated inside the open gate to check their phones. This was too good of a picture not to take.
Chewbacca ambled past. I was hoping for a photo, but his many keepers kept him occupied.
Finally the rest of the parade participants were led down the stadium ramp. The five of us early-birds could have been the first five in the parade, sort of like the drum major of the marching band. Instead we snuck in near the front, and walked out on the field.
The stands behind first base were mostly full. Even though most of the paraders were parents with their young costumed kids, I immediately got the feeling the seated fans were thinking "NERDS!" As I shared this sentiment with Rob by the time I got to the last word I realized his daughter might be listening, so I tried to stop myself.
The little kid and his young mom who waited with us (above left, in black) are in the above picture with Rob and his daughter (holding the ball in her right hand).The entire evening had a Star Wars theme. When the tomahawk team was introduced Storm Troopers took over the T-shirt cannon duties.
Darth Vader and other storm troopers came out to guard the thrower of the first pitch and surround the pregame meeting between the umpires and managers.
The Phillies' batting order was introduced, their pictures replaced with Star Wars villains. Ryan Howard was replaced by Jabba the Hut. The Braves had posed for pictures in good guy attire. Nick Markakis (above) held his bat like a light saber.
New this year is an outfield clock to make sure the teams swap sides between innings quickly.
Chad Eaton was at the game with his family. In town for the race, I spotted his son's green shirt. No one was seated next to Chad so I snuck in, snapped this picture, and posted it on Facebook. He didn't see it, so finally I poked him and we had a nice chat.