Printed Fan Cutouts Are the Hottest Thing in MLB Promos
There’s no doubt that baseball fans miss going to the ballpark. They miss it so much that they’re willing to pay for a cardboard cutout of themselves in the stands, just so they can maybe live vicariously through it (or spot it on TV).
When the MLB season finally started this summer, the empty stadiums were a little eerie, and home runs just didn’t have that same appeal as usual. So teams found a way to not only put “fans” in seats, but also make back some money they were losing from playing behind closed doors.
The Seattle Mariners were one of the first teams to try this out, and worked with a local display and custom fabrication company to print the cutouts, which MLB.com details as “more like a yard sign than a child’s science fair project.”
The Dodgers did it in a similar way, with full body pictures of fans appearing like they were if they were actually sitting there. Except, with a famous fanbase, the Dodgers sold plenty of “seats” to celebrities trying to hold onto their usual spots in Dodger Stadium.
Some bigger names among the Dodger Stadium cutouts, in case you were wondering ...
Rachel, Sharon & David Robinson pic.twitter.com/CpGJcHX37e
— Alden Gonzalez (@Alden_Gonzalez) July 24, 2020
MLB.com reported that the Dodgers have sold more than 8,500 fan cutouts this season, which has turned into $1.5 million in donations to the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation.
In Minneapolis, the Twins are going the route of giant heads, rather than full-bodied cardboard fans. They also chose more than 80 former Twins players like Kirby Puckett and Joe Mauer.
Bartolo Colon: 15 games with the Twins and still gets a prime seat behind home plate pic.twitter.com/xpl9M1YRq2
— Michael Clair (@michaelsclair) July 29, 2020
“When we looked across the league, we noticed that everybody was doing cutouts. I think at the Twins we're always just looking how we can do things differently,” Mitch Retelny, senior manager of special events and promotions for the Twins, told MLB.com. “We thought this was a unique play on a trend that was already happening and putting our own spin on it. So far, the response has been overwhelmingly positive on the Big Head concept that we're running with.”
Mandy Lincoln, director of marketing for the Mariners, said that the cutout program has also finally made it so dogs are allowed in the park.
Close to 5,000 people purchased cardboard cutouts of themselves for @Mets games at Citi Field this season.
One person bought a cutout for their dog and it’s pretty great. pic.twitter.com/8f1XJjie3h
— Avish Sood (@AvishSood) July 19, 2020
“So, I was expecting dogs and figured cats were going to be in there as well,” she told MLB.com. “And yesterday I opened up a box and was sorting through them, and there was a horse.”
Why not? A horse showed up to A’s-Angels, too.
Enough horsing around. We have 15 MLB games on today. Baseball is back 15/10 pic.twitter.com/hoFpHTxVzC
— Cardboard Cutout Highlights (@BallparkCutouts) July 25, 2020
The one thing cutouts can’t replicate is the feeling of catching a home run ball, which is one of the most special moments you can achieve as a fan in the stands. But, rest assured, the Mariners have a plan in place: If “you” “catch” a home run ball, you’ll still get to keep it.
“If we do end up [putting cutouts in the outfield stands], and a home run hits it directly, you betcha, we’re shipping them that baseball,” Lincoln said.