Baseball is finally back, but Opening Day didn't look quite the same this year.
Ballparks, typically filled for the first game with fans eager to cheer on their favorite teams and celebrate baseball, are empty this year due to social distancing guidelines and the ongoing spread of the coronavirus pandemic, leaving fans to watch games at home. Well, except for the inanimate cardboard-cutout fans seated—or leaning—in box seats across the country.
Teams got creative with these cutouts to create the illusion of crowded stands. Some people love the cutouts and others hate them. While having two-dimensional fans scattered around the ballpark just isn't the same as a real crowd, it has added a little fun to this unusual season and turned games into a live version of Where's Waldo?
In a perfect troll move, cutouts of Hall of Famer Chipper Jones and his son, Shea, appeared at Friday's Mets-Braves opener at Citi Field. Jones crushed the Mets during his 19-year career and even named his son after their old stadium. It'd be disappointing if the cutout of the man Mets fans taunted at with "LAR—RY! LAR—RY!" (Chipper's real name) all those years wasn't at Opening Day, even more so because Jones was calling the game as part of the ESPN broadcast.
Fan-favorite Bark in the Park nights won't happen this season, but one Mets fan made it possible anyway.
The Mets also honored late photographer Anthony Causi from The New York Post with a cutout in his usual spot in the photo pit.
In Chicago, a White Sox fan decided just one photo of himself wasn't enough. He might be the biggest crowd Guaranteed Rate Field has seen in years.
If New York is for dogs, this cat is representing Chicago.
We couldn't go all season without at least one ballpark proposal—although maybe we should have—so Cleveland took care of that.
Legendary drummer John Adams won't miss a beat at Progressive Field thanks to his cutout in the stands. Cleveland will play a recording of his bass drum with its artificial crowd noise so he can still be heard during games.
In California, there's been plenty of celebrities sightings around the ballparks.
The Giants went to Flavor Town with a Guy Fieri cutout and reunited 49ers teammates George Kittle and Jimmy Garoppolo.
Across the Bay, the A's brought back Tom Hanks as a hot dog vendor to keep the cardboard fans fed. Hanks worked at the Oakland Coliseum in the 1970s before he began acting and will reprise his former role to voice beer and hot dog vendors for Oakland's piped-in crowd noise.
Former team mascot Charlie–O the mule, who belonged to former owner Charlie Finely, also decided to rejoin the team.
The Dodgers have plenty of familiar faces at Chavez Ravine, too. Former manager Tommy Lasorda and pitcher Pedro Martinez made it for Opening Night.
Martinez pitched in only 67 games for the Dodgers early in his career, so Kiké Hernández's mustache could end up seeing nearly as much playing time in Los Angeles as the righty did.
Entertainment Tonight host Mary Hart wouldn't miss a chance to root on the Dodgers behind home plate, joined by legendary scout and Panama hat-wearer Mike Brito.
Orel Hershiser, Nomar Garciaparra, former Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti and SportsNet LA's Alanna Rizzo and Joe Davis popped out behind the home dugout.
Plenty of other cardboard celebrities filled the stands, keeping Dodger Stadium the place to be seen, even in quarantine.
There are so many cutouts. It feels like they're starting to look alike.
Unfortunately, not all cutouts made it out of the weekend unscathed. Dodgers catcher Will Smith owes this man an apology.