With no fans allowed in stadiums this season — at least for the time being — due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, various teams across the league are putting cardboard cutouts of fans in the seats to make home games look occupied.
The Los Angeles Dodgers are among those participating, with fans able to purchase cardboard cutouts on the team’s website with the proceeds going to the team’s official foundation.
Aside from cameras panning to show them in the stands, the cutouts saw their first action in Saturday’s loss to the San Francisco Giants. With the Dodgers trailing 5-3 in the ninth inning, Will Smith lined a solo home run to left field, which hit off the head of a fan cutout and snapped it at the neck.
It appears that fan is looking to collect a souvenir as Austin Donley took to Twitter to ask if the Dodgers will send him the home run ball, and received a response from Smith:
Sorry I took your head off 😂😂😂 shoot me a dm and I’ll hook it up for you
— Will Smith (@will_smith30) July 26, 2020
The Oakland Athletics have pledged to mail foul and home run balls to fans if it hits their cutouts, although it’s unclear if the Dodgers plan to do the same.
Among the cutouts at Dodger Stadium are the SportsNet LA broadcast team, featuring Joe Davis, Orel Hershiser, Alanna Rizzo, John Hartung, Jerry Hairston Jr., Nomar Garciaparra and Ned Colletti, as well as legendary scout Mike Brito, super fans Mary Hart and Brad Paisley, and Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda.
Fox takes broadcast one step further with virtual fans
Fox Sports announced before their first broadcasts of the year of Saturday, one of which was the Dodgers against the Giants, that in addition to the cutouts in stadiums, they would add in virtual fans and crowd noise of their own to make stadiums look full.
In their first Dodger game, they featured fans doing the wave, as well as leaving early as an attempt to be clever with their technology.
The Dodgers are scheduled to play four more games this season that will be nationally televised by Fox or FS1.
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