New York Yankees Star Pitcher CC Sabathia Gets Pumped for Star Wars Night

The World Series Champion tells about his favorite characters and future cosplay aspirations ahead of the May the 4th celebration.

If you are a baseball fan, you know New York Yankees star pitcher CC Sabathia very well. The 2009 World Series champion has been a dominant force in Major League Baseball since 2001. The guy has done it all: Cy Young winner in 2007; six-time All-Star; American League Championship Series MVP in 2009; led the Majors in wins twice (2009 and 2010). But did you know he’s also a huge Star Wars fan — one who watches the entire saga every off season? In honor of May the 4th being Star Wars Night at Yankee Stadium (when the first 40,000 guests receive an Aaron Judge Jedi Bobblehead), spoke with Sabathia about his preferred Star Wars viewing order, his plans to one day cosplay at Star Wars Celebration, and why he would make an excellent Yoda bobblehead. What is your earliest Star Wars memory and what did it mean to you growing up?

CC Sabathia: My earliest Star Wars memory, I think, is my dad taking me to see the first one. And, I just remember walking in, being mesmerized by, like, what I was seeing on the screen and just being locked in. He was such a big Star Wars fan that it kind of made me one immediately. Yeah, it’s such a huge family thing. Are your kids fans? And how do you share your love of Star Wars with them?

CC Sabathia: My kids love it. They’re all into it. My youngest son, he’s seven, he’s the biggest fan. But my girls have gotten into it now because of Rey…the last two movies, they really loved it and they’ve gone back and watched the rest of them, so we watch it as a family now. The whole series. Well, that’s a perfect transition, because I’m wondering what do you think it is about Star Wars that resonates so beautifully with so many different generations of fans? Because it definitely does.

CC Sabathia: I think it’s a story for everybody. I mean, I think throughout the whole, you know, all eight movies, anybody can relate to it.  So I think it’s a cool thing that so many different people can relate to that one movie. Just the idea, like there’s something that you are destined for and you’ve got people you can work with to fight against something that just seems to be oppressive.

CC Sabathia: Mmm hmm. And so, here’s a popular topic these days. Do you have a preferred viewing order of the movies?

CC Sabathia: I like to watch them in order. Like when they came out or like episode order?

CC Sabathia: Episode order. Oh, really? How come?

CC Sabathia: I watch them in episode order. And I do it every off season, like right at the end of every season. Usually like November, I take like, two or three days and I watch Harry Potter all the way through and I watch Star Wars all the way through. Oh, that’s cool. Was there a reason you settled on starting with Episode I verses Episode IV?

CC Sabathia: Just because that’s how it is in the story. [Laughs] Right. That totally makes sense. It’s kind of cool to see Anakin grow up anyway and just have that huge fall.

CC Sabathia: Yeah, and it’s easier to explain to my kids. Like, that’s Darth Vader. You know what I mean? Like, it’s easier to explain the story. I’m showing it to my four-year-old now. Plus, I’m a high school teacher, so I show it to students [in class where there are some] who have never seen it before, and they are always like, “What do you mean this is the fourth movie?”

CC Sabathia: Yeah. My daughter couldn’t understand that. I just tell my son that A New Hope is Episode I because when I try to explain [the narrative structure of the chronological release dates of the Star Wars films], it’s like, “What?!”

CC Sabathia: [Laughs] You know how it is. So, how about collecting? Do you ever run out for a Star Wars toy run on a road trip? Between your starts, of course.

CC Sabathia: No, I haven’t. I don’t have like a lot of memorabilia, I guess. I mean, I have a lot of costume stuff. I dressed up, like [in] Star Wars costumes a bunch for Halloween, so I have a lot of costume stuff. I don’t have a lot of different memorabilia yet. I’ve got to get into that. So I’m sure you’ve got some pictures of some pretty cool costumes.

CC Sabathia: Yeah, once I retire I think I’ll start going to conventions, all over the states and stuff. The different things that they have. Like Star Wars Celebration or something.

CC Sabathia: Yeah. Yes, things like that I’ll get to go to so I can plan. So, what did you think about that recent Solo trailer? Did it generate a lot of buzz amongst you and your teammates?

CC Sabathia: Yeah. Everybody’s excited about that, I think. Just whenever the trailers come out for Christmas time [like for the Rogue One and The Last Jedi] because everybody knows that’s when the movie is coming out. Everybody’s excited about that. My youngest, like I said, is excited. He’s excited for Episode IX, too, so we’re waiting for that. That’s awesome. So, let’s shift gears a little bit and let’s talk about The Players Union: R2-C2, your podcast with Ryan Ruocco. How did R2-C2 get started, and how does Star Wars fit into the mix?

CC Sabathia: Ruocco used to work here, from the Yes Network — well, he still does — and we just became friends. You know, chatting and things like that. And, I think it’s just a natural thing for us to have a podcast and talk about things that we are interested in. And obviously, we are both huge Star Wars fans, and you know, took the R2-D2 thing and made it our own, R2-C2. We thought it’d be cool. It’s incredibly cool. I just listened recently to your Last Jedi review show from January 24 of this year. It’s certainly not for younger kids, per se, but the depth that you guys get into, analyzing things, it made me think about things from The Last Jedi in a very different way. You guys really went to some deep places that I thought were amazing.

CC Sabathia: Yeah, that podcast came out pretty cool. I mean, he [ESPN personality and guest co-host, Amin Elhassan] gets real deep. He’s into it, so he knew stuff that I didn’t even know. He was bringing up things that like, getting into it and stuff like the time warp and stuff like that from the last movie. It was like, he was explaining stuff to me that I was like, ‘Oh, ok. That makes sense.’ So, Star Wars night is on May the 4th at Yankee Stadium. How cool is it that you get to combine two of your passions like that?

CC Sabathia: I’m excited for it. I was thinking about maybe coming in dressed up, but I don’t know. [Laughs] I don’t know yet.

But no, it’s pretty cool that we get a chance to celebrate that movie. Like I said, it resonates with so many people that we get a chance to celebrate it with all of our fans and stuff, so I think it’s going to be a fun night. Oh, extremely. And there’s going to be a lot of energy in the stadium anyway. And one of the reasons: there’s going to be an Aaron Judge bobblehead. What Star Wars bobblehead do you think you’d want to be and will there be a porg somewhere in that mix?

CC Sabathia: I think I would want to be Master Yoda. Oh, nice! How did you pick Yoda?

CC Sabathia: Just because I’m the oldest on the team. [Laughs] And the wisest too, right?

CC Sabathia: [Laughs] I don’t know about that. So, is there a particular scene or moment that you could use to pump up the Yankees before game seven of the World Series?

CC Sabathia: Oh, wow! I don’t know. Maybe Luke in the last scene from the last movie. That’s a great scene. And that or maybe the end of Rogue One with Vader.

CC Sabathia: Yeah, like a lot of those things. Even the General Grievous scene, when [Obi-Wan Kenobi in Revenge of the Sith is] fighting General Grievous. That’s a cool scene. That’s a good call. You’ve obviously had an incredible career and you’ve had to answer some really tough questions, so I’m going to throw a few at you. Who’s the better bad guy: Kylo Ren or Darth Vader?

CC Sabathia: Kylo Ren. How come?

CC Sabathia: Younger. [Laughs] So are you more of a Luke guy or a Han Solo guy?

CC Sabathia: [Pauses] I like Luke. Especially what he did at the end of the last movie. Yeah, I thought that was maybe the coolest scene in all of Star Wars.

CC Sabathia: Yeah, it brought him back, too, you know? It was the Luke Skywalker moment we’ve been waiting for since 1983.

CC Sabathia: For sure. So, who’s cooler under pressure: Han Solo or Lando Calrissian?

CC Sabathia: Ooh. That’s a tough one.

CC Sabathia: That is a tough one. But I have to go with Han Solo just because he’s the original. There you go. So, Lando, speaking of him, he’s one person who can really pull off that cape. Is there anybody in the Yankees dugout that can make a similar claim?

CC Sabathia: That can pull off the cape? Yeah!

CC Sabathia: Man! I think Chappy [New York Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman] could pull off the cape. That’d be great. I’m a Cubs fan, too, so I appreciate that comment. [Chapman was the Chicago Cubs closer when they won the World Series in 2016.]

CC Sabathia: [Laughs] What was the biggest moment in your career thus far, and how would that compare to being cast in Episode IX?

CC Sabathia: Oof! I think the biggest thing in my career so far is winning the World Series [in 2009], obviously, being a team sport and wanting that to be the ultimate goal. I think it would rank right up there with…it depends on the scene, though. Like, if people would know it was me, you know what I mean? Right.

CC Sabathia: If I’m dressed up as a stormtrooper, then no thanks. But, if people can know that it’s me in the scene, I think that would be right up there with winning the World Series. And then imagine getting an action figure and being on a trading card or something like that.

CC Sabathia: Yeah, getting to go to Comic-Con or something like that. [Laughs] Yeah. That’s exactly right: “And here comes CC Sabathia, Star Wars star.”

CC Sabathia: [Laughs]

Get your tickets to Star Wars Night at Yankee Stadium on May the 4th here!

Dan Zehr is a high school English teacher with an MS in Teaching and Learning, and is the host and co-creator of Coffee With Kenobi, a podcast that examines Star Wars’ mythology from a place of intelligence and humor.