ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — While living, breathing Tampa Bay Rays fans could not be at Tropicana Field this season, their two-dimensional cutouts could be.
“It gave people the opportunity to have their smiling face at Tropicana Field this season,” Rays Vice President of Marketing Eric Weisberg said. “People that may have passed away that were big Rays fans or key moments in their life that happened here at Tropicana field.”
The season’s not over yet for the Rays. The team is still one win away from advancing to the World Series in Arlington, Texas. But games inside The Trop are done for the year. Fans can pick-up their cutouts as a lasting memory from a strange year in sports.
“I am picking up my son Corey Walter and relatively new grandbaby Eric Walter,” Kim Burress said.
Burress got one of the lucky cutouts that a player signed.
“My one son who lives in California now, he submitted a picture of his dog who is deceased,” longtime season ticket holder Gerry Frederick said. “My other son, who lives in Mount Dora, who is an avid fan, he submitted three different pictures.”
Fans purchased thousands of cutouts for $40 each for season ticket holders, $60 for everyone else. For many fans, this is the first time to see the cardboard version of themselves or their dog.
“The dog one, we saw it twice,” Frederick said. “Myself, never saw it.”
“I actually caught a glimpse of him,” Rays fan Michael Lopez said of the cutout of his dog Dexter. “He was behind the dugout. I had to keep pausing it. I caught him for a brief second.”
Now that all of the replacement fan cutouts have are gone from The Trop, we can all agree — hopefully, we never have to do this again.
“No, no no no,” Burress said. “We’d rather be at the game.”
“Hopefully, next season everyone can enjoy the games in person, root for the Rays,” Lopez said. “Hopefully, they win and make the World Series.”