"The third time's the charm" is a lot better than "three strikes and yer out!"
After two years of trying, tonight R2 finally made it onto the field for Star Wars Night at Dodger Stadium. Being the ardent Dodgers fan that I am, this was really exciting for me. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
For the third year in a row, Star Wars characters including R2 were invited to Dodger Stadium for Star Wars Night. Mike Senna agreed to wrangle, so we drove on up and arrived around 4:20pm. Stadium Operations allowed us to park as close to the character rendezvous point as possible, which was nice.
The characters were to be split into two groups for pre-game activities. One group was going to "Autograph Alley" behind center field (where we all were last year before the game), and the other group was going down onto the field! Very thankfully, R2 was part of the field group. Characters suited up from 4:30pm-5:30pm while R2, Mike and I stood by.
At 5:30pm, we started our way from the Club Level (3rd deck) to the Field Level. Our trip took us through elevators, memorabilia stations, and dining areas I had never seen before.
Finally, we reached the bottom, which was actually a few feet below field-level. Some stairs allowed the characters up to the field. Of course, R2 can't take stairs, but never fear. There was a small elevator that took us up to the field.
That was one slow elevator, but it was really neat looking up out of that box and seeing the sky, followed by the stadium lights, followed the upper decks, and finally the field itself.
R2 and the characters were led onto the warning track around the field, where we did the usual photo ops with other people in the same area, while the visiting Pittsburg Pirates took batting practice. (I realize it looks empty, but this was 5:30pm for a 7:10pm start time. As game time approached, the stands started filling up.)
During batting practice a ball ricocheted off one of the protective screens on the field and bounced my way, so I snagged it. Not the first batting practice ball for me (I've caught many in the bleachers over the years), but certainly the first when I was on the field.
Longtime official Dodgers photographer Jon Soohoo and I chatted before the game.
Jon was kind enough to take this picture and send it to me of Dodgers All Star slugger Matt Kemp shaking hands with R2. © Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers 2011
Little does Matt know that earlier R2 posed with that very same bat of his!
Some of the players jumped in for pictures, as did LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, who at one point started to put the cuffs on Vader.
A little before the playing of the national anthem, the characters gathered behind home plate, and they were announced to the crowd over the PA system, and shown on the scoreboard. I didn't get a picture of that, but Mike may have gotten some video on his iPhone that I'll try to get later.
[Edit: For better or worse, here's the video Mike got. If you zoom to full-screen, you can make out R2 in the center of the scoreboard.]
Alas, our time on the field came to an end.
Back into the elevator R2 went, along with two clone troopers whose costumes were not stair-friendly.
At that point, most of the characters made their way to the right field pavilion to interact with the fans. However, the pavilions are all stairs, and R2 does not do stairs. The Dodgers folks said that we were done, and that we could put R2 back in the car and enjoy the game. So, that's what we did.
Although we were provided tickets for the right-field pavilion, Mike and I decided to take an opportunity to check out the Stadium Club, one of the very few places in the stadium I had never been.
There we found a buffet, where we could eat and watch the game (for a fee, of course).
There's no denying we were pretty far from home plate, but we were close to the dinner plate, and it was a fun way to watch a ballgame.
The Dodgers ended up winning 7-2, making the game that much better. I like to think R2 had something to do with that. :-)
It was a great night, and I hope to be back again next year. Not sure how to top it, but we'll see.
The full photoset is here. Thank you to Mike Senna for taking almost all of them!