Within a few innings of the first Giants game without fans, broadcasters Mike Krukow and Duane Kuiper noticed something that would change for corner outfielders. Without anyone sitting down the line, it’s up to the left or right fielder to chase down any foul ball that doesn’t find the seats and get it off the playing field.
More and more, corner outfielders are starting to have fun with the chore. They can be seen winging balls into the seats, aiming at cardboard cutouts. Many of the people who bought them at Oracle Park probably wouldn’t mind getting hit by one of their favorite players. For some who spent on a cutout, one of the goals was to get closer to fan favorites.
Phillipe Nascimento is one of about 13,000 Giants fans who have purchased cutouts so far. He’s sitting right next to Will Clark, an excited look on his face and a finger pointing at the former Giants first baseman.
"When I was taking the picture, I thought about how I would react if I got to sit next to Will Clark at a game," Nascimento said in his description. "What you see is exactly what my reaction would be if I got to sit next to my childhood hero. I know my 10-year-old self would have reacted the same way, so while in 2020 a lot of things have changed, my reaction sitting next to The Thrill has not."
While many of the cutouts have emotional ties, some Giants fans just wanted to have a little fun in a season in which they won't be allowed to sit at a game for three hours and cheer as they alternate hot dogs and beers. Brent Natsume's cutout includes long, flowing hair. It's an homage to one of the few Giants who could exceed Clark's popularity.
"I figured I'd channel my inner Tim Lincecum hairstyle during this pandemic," he said.
Melodie Durham went with a current Giant for her two cutouts, which show her and her friend Diane wearing baby giraffe hats just as they often do at the ballpark. Durham, a retired firefighter and small business owner from Napa, wore the hats to a game one day with her friend, an elementary school teacher.
"People, even fans of the opposing teams, were cracking up and asking for pictures with us," she said.
The outfit was so popular that it's represented even in a season with no fans, and perhaps one of these nights Belt will look up in the middle innings of a long game and see two of his biggest supporters. He might see plenty of other familiar faces, too. The Giants have 20 celebrities and 80 "Forever Giants" as cutouts, along with plenty of family members of players.
It makes for a fun backdrop, and perhaps a target for all those foul balls. Although some cutouts came ready. Nascimento is pointing to Clark with one hand but has a glove on the other.
"Ready for any foul ball," he said. "I wouldn't want to get shamed by Kruk and Kuip."