Most Jedi and Sith enjoyed the first-ever Star Wars night at Busch Stadium yesterday, but one woman felt like she was being oppressed by Palpatine's Galactic Empire when she was kicked out of the stadium for wearing a mask.
Julie Sweetin, a nurse at a local hospital, spent two hours crafting her Stormtrooper costume to wear during the St. Louis Cardinals' special themed game against the Los Angeles Dodgers. With black leggings, white body "armor" and a square cardboard mask, she looked like an 8-bit member of Palpatine's army.
As Sweetin entered the stadium, however, ticket-takers cited a no-mask policy and asked her not to sport the headwear.
"I was asked to remove the mask when I came in, and I did," Sweetin told Daily RFT at the stadium.
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Sweetin said that she complied with the request until RFT photographer Jon Gitchoff asked to take a photo of her in the fourth inning. Sweetin put on the mask for a few seconds as Gitchoff snapped the pic and chatted with her friends, but a polo-clad security guard rushed over to snatch Sweetin's mask from her. Sweetin and Gitchoff calmly tried to explain that she wore the mask only for a brief photo as other fans had done, but the guard wouldn't yield and began yelling at Sweetin and her friends as if she were threatening to blow up Alderaan.
"Today is my thirtieth birthday," said Danny Curtin, who had accompanied Sweetin to the game. "But now my birthday is ruined."
As another security guard came over to assist, Sweetin and Gitchoff pointed out that other fans were sporting masks without incident, and that not all guards were enforcing the alleged no-mask policy. The guards repeatedly argued that policy was policy no matter what others were doing, and Sweetin coolly asked to speak with a manager and stepped to the side to wait.
"That one employee just went off on us," Sweetin said. "I didn't appreciate how he dealt with us."
During the fifth inning, a supervisor quietly chatted with Sweetin for about ten minutes before Sweetin was in fact forced to leave the stadium, mask in hand. When Daily RFT followed Sweetin outside, she said that the supervisor was very understanding about the situation and had hinted that this particular guard did not always keep his cool. Sweetin, who, at about 5'9", was not "a little short for a Stormtrooper," appreciated that the Cardinals would hold a Star Wars night but expressed displeasure about the inconsistent mask policy.
"They shouldn't have these theme nights if this is how they're going to treat people who dress up," Sweetin said. "That guy's attitude isn't going to get him anywhere."
Daily RFT reached out to the Cardinals for comment, and we'll update if we hear back.
Continue for happier Star Wars night moments and more photos.
Not everyone felt Force-choked during Star Wars night.
Throughout the evening, many fans of George Lucas' epic oeuvre shared their excitement with Daily RFT. Ella Huertas, eleven, wore her hair in two Princess Leia-style buns and said that she played the "Imperial March" as the finale to her recent piano recital.
Kyle Faintich, thirteen, was one of the first to pick up his special-edition Fredbird vs. Darth Vader T-shirt that came with his ticket. "I think it's really cool," said Faintich, whose favorite Star Wars character is General Grievous.
The Lewin family of four was attending their first Cardinals game at Busch Stadium after moving to St. Louis from Oklahoma. Bryce Lewin, thirteen, dressed for the occasion in a Jedi robe and claimed, "We pretty much came for Star Wars."
Adults also were anxious to experience a galaxy far, far away at Baseball Heaven. Anna and Logan Poeppelmeier pledged allegiance to the Cardinals and confessed that they've attended many games, but they were particularly excited about this one. "We're hoping to hear all the Star Wars music, like the 'Imperial March,'" said Anna. "Or 'Duel of the Fates' would be great," added Logan.
Chris Martinez stopped by the game on his way from Houston to Wizard World Chicago Comic Con. When we pressed him for his favorite Star Wars movie, his girlfriend piped up, "Empire Strikes Back!" Martinez gave a sheepish smile and said, "I guess it's Empire. Gotta go with what she says."
Bryana Vondran is taking her Star Wars love to the extreme. Dressed as Satele Shan, the Jedi Order's grand master during the Old Republic era, Vondran shared that she recently moved to St. Louis from Peoria, Illinois. She chose Star Wars night as her first Cardinals game and plans to marry her fiance on Star Wars Day in 2015.
So what actually happened on the field and around the concourses?
Before the game began, a near-sellout crowd delighted in watching Ashley and David Eckstein ride around the warning track in a white truck with an army of Star Wars characters. Ashley, the voice of Jedi padawan Ahsoka Tano from the animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars as well as the force (or "Force?") behind chic-geek fashion empire Her Universe, threw out the ceremonial first pitch to her husband David, a former Cardinals shortstop and 2006 World Series MVP.
Fredbird, clad in a brown Jedi robe and waving a lightsaber with a violet blade, waited for the couple at home plate before dancing around as the lineups were announced. Several innings into the game, he posed for photos in Ford Plaza and led Darth Vader, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Stormtroopers and other characters in a dance to Psy's "Gangnam Style" (a favorite song of the kiddos RFT recently experimented on).
Fans patiently waited in long queues to snap photos with members of the 501st Legion, a Star Wars costuming group that makes appearances at fundraising, charity and promotional events. Michael Walker, a character handler for the 501st, said that around twenty members were roaming the stadium in professional-quality costumes ranging from Darth Maul to Tusken Raiders to Boba Fett. "The costumes are so amazing and accurate," Walker said.
Even Cardinals employees got into the costuming fun. Dave Willis, from Cardinals ticket sales, dressed in an innocent Luke Skywalker's white outfit from A New Hope.
"I'm a big Star Wars fan, and people here knew that, so they asked me if I'd do this," Willis said. "There are a lot of baseball fans at the stadium tonight, and they can enjoy something really unique."
During the game, Cardinals players were shown on the big screen in doctored Star Wars garb. Centerfielder Jon Jay appeared as a Stormtrooper, rightfielder Carlos Beltran (Did he ever sell his New York home?) was C-3P0 and leftfielder Matt Holliday was depicted as Darth Vader.
But perhaps the best part of the evening was hearing KMOX (1120 AM) Cardinals broadcasters Mike Shannon and John Rooney debate the merits of Star Wars over the stadium-wide speaker system. Here's a part of that conversation that made Daily RFT giggle:
Rooney: I never got into the Star Wars series. Shannon: I like that R2D2. Isn't he the little guy who spins around? Heh, heh, heh. Rooney: I don't know, but I prefer the Mel Brooks version. He calls it Spaceballs. Shannon (in disbelief): Spaceballs? That's what that's called?
In the end, though, neither Shannon nor the Force could save the Cardinals. The Dodgers beat the Redbirds 13-4.
Continue for more photos.
Continue for more photos.