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Star Wars MCMLXXVII: The Tigers flash back

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The original Star Wars trilogy exploded across the silver screen in 1977, 1980, and 1983. Let's see what the Tigers were up to when those movies first came out.

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Today is the official release date of the latest installment in the Star Wars saga, and chances are good you're never going to even read this post because you got into a movie line late last week that will finally reach the theater on Tuesday. March 15th. 2018.

I was just going to write a whole post based around Joba/Jabba jokes, but then I remembered that Joba Chamberlain isn't with the Detroit Tigers anymore, and besides, y'all deserve better than that. You can thank me in the comments section below.

Instead, let's flash back to when the first three Star Wars movies were released (much like Game 163, we're going to pretend the "prequels" never happened) and see what the Tigers were up to on those specific dates.

May 25, 1977: Tigers 0, Angels 4

Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope hit the theaters, and the Angels hit the Tigers, because even back then (when they were just the "California Angels") the boys from Detroit were as helpless as Storm Troopers against the Anaheim crew.

This was a very long time ago. Ron LeFlore was batting in the leadoff spot. Rusty Staub was on the team. Even Mickey Stanley, member of the 1968 World Champion Tigers, made an appearance as a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the eighth inning. Relief pitcher Steve Grilli threw a couple of innings out of the bullpen -- yes, that's the father of future Tigers reliever Jason Grilli.

The pitcher for the Angels that day, who held the Tigers to a three-hit shutout? Future Tiger and "crafty southpaw" Frank Tanana.

May 21, 1980: Tigers 5, Yankees 9

On the day when Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back came out, the Tigers got beat up by the likes of Lou Piniella, Greg Nettles, and Rupert Jones -- all of whom hit home runs in the game.

While Luke Skywalker was finding out (spoiler alert) that Darth Vader was his father, Goose Gossage was striking out Lance Parrish, who -- get this -- was playing right field that day.

This particular Tigers team featured several players that would form the core of the 1984 Championship team: Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker were at their usual shortstop and second base positions, Tom Brookens played third base, and Kirk Gibson (in this, his rookie year) manned center field.

This was a bit of a wild game, too. The Tigers were behind 4-0 when catcher Duffy Dyer hit a two-run shot in the sixth. The Yankees answered back with a run in the seventh, but designated hitter Steve Kemp hit a three-run dinger in the bottom of the eighth to tie the game.

It remained tied until the eleventh inning, when Aurelio Lopez (now in his third inning of relief) gave up a leadoff home run to Greg Nettles, followed a few batters later by a three-run blast courtesy of Rupert Jones.

Oh, that wacky Tigers bullpen!

May 25, 1983: Tigers 6, Blue Jays 2

In the year that Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi was released, the Tigers won 92 games, but couldn't top Joe Altobelli's 98-win Baltimore Orioles, who went on to win the World Series that year.

Still, it was a winning season, and most of the 1984 squad was in place: in addition to Parrish, Gibson, Brookens, Trammell, and Whitaker, the Tigers lineup also featured Larry Herndon and Chet Lemon.

Dan Petry pitched this game, and even though he gave up nine hits to the Jays (remember Damaso Garcia, Willie Upshaw, Jorge Ortega, and Lloyd Moseby?), he held the Jays to just the two runs.

Aurelio Lopez pitched an eight-out save, because this was the 1980's and pitch counts had not been invented yet.

Of course, the next year, the Tigers ravaged every team that crossed their path on the way to 104 wins and a World Series Championship.

Now, I'm not saying there's some correlation between the death of Emperor Palpatine, the definitive destruction of the Death Star, the end of the Empire in 1983, and a Detroit Tigers victory parade in 1984. But I'm not ruling it out either.

Here's hoping for a repeat sequence of events in 2016.