Major League Baseball Puts on Star Wars Drone Light Show During Oakland A’s and Yankees Game

As one of the founding members of the New York Knickerbockers in 1845, Alexander Cartwright is considered to be the “Father of Baseball” as we know it today. By the 1850s, the sport had become so popular that it was called the National Pastime. However, over the last decade or so, baseball’s popularity has been declining. While all professional sports took a major financial beating due to COVID-19, most have now rebounded. Still, baseball viewership was down 12% even after reopening to the public.

One of the main reasons for this is that people have found baseball to be too stagnant. The sport has not changed much in the more than 150 years it has been known as America’s pastime. The sport has also been slow to adapt to modern entertainment and interaction platforms like social media and streaming services. For the 2021 Major League Baseball season, the league has been pushing the boundaries to try and reengage its audiences both in-person and watching from home.

This year’s most anticipated game was the Yankees-White Sox August 12th Field of Dreams Game in honor of the classic 1989 film starring Kevin Costner. Held at the ballpark constructed for the movie in Dyersville, Iowa, the game began with the teams walking out of a cornfield onto the baseball field. With about 8,000 fans in attendance, Fox Sports saw a 135% increase in viewership that night. It was clear that the MLB needed to step up their entertainment gimmick game to continue this streak.

For the August 28, Oakland A’s-Yankees game, fans had a chance to see a first for the Major League, a drone light show. Banking on the nostalgia factor, a key tenet in baseball fandom, the A’s decided to honor another film. This time the MLB chose Star Wars, as Oakland is the hometown of Mark Hamill, aka, the original Luke Skywalker. For the A’s Star Wars themed drone show, the MLB contracted Sky Elements based out of Fort Worth, Texas.

Fans were invited down to sit on the field while the opening credits music from the movie played and text scrolled up on the LED screen telling a background story for the show. The story states that Jedi Master Voc (after A’s Steve Vucinich) brought an army of drones to defeat the evil empire. Then Sky Elements choreographed 200 drones to depict iconic images from Star Wars and baseball. The show started with the classic Star Wars poster title that fades into a single A for the A’s.

Next, the drones transition into R2-D2 and a battle ready Yoda. Soon the music changes to the Imperial March, Darth Vader’s theme as lightsabers duel. “The Sky Elements team had a blast creating this drone show,” states the drone company in an Instagram post, “and ran with the concept of Star Wars and baseball, displaying the similarities between the two. Lightsabers turning into baseball bats, and a baseball turning into the Death Star are among some of the creative ideas that play out in the sky above Ring Central Stadium.”

Whether or not ideas like drone light shows will be enough to reclaim baseball’s status as America’s pastime is yet to be seen. It is refreshing to see that the MLB is ready to start thinking outside the box to entertain audiences. And the fact that they are using nostalgia combined with modern technology like drones is something that a pioneer of the sport like Alexander Cartwright would be proud of.

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