To ensure fan safety and resemble normalcy when their baseball season resumes, the Rakuten Monkeys are taking a creative approach. The Taiwanese team, which competes in the Chinese Professional Baseball League, will return to the diamond April 11 with hundreds of robotic mannequins in the stands.
Some 500 faux fans will be propped throughout the ballpark when the league resumes its operations following a lengthy coronavirus-related hiatus. To feign a real ballpark experience, the lifeless figures will hold rally signs, don team apparel and in a cheeky move, also come wearing face masks.
“Since we are not allowed to have any fans in attendance, we might as well have some fun with it,” Monkeys’ general manager Justin Liu said in a statement provided to CPBL Stats. “We went with 500 robot mannequins to comply with the current CDC guideline.”
— CPBL STATS (@GOCPBL) April 7, 2020
In the MLB, it’s unknown if similar measures will be taken upon the season’s eventual start. Varying reports have surfaced in the weeks since officials delayed the season to at least mid-May. Most recently, the league was said to be considering starting up as early as May with a few caveats. Games would likely initially be played without fans and would take place solely in Arizona to eliminate travel and monitor any changes to players’ safety. Other reports found a reduced, 100-game schedule beginning in July would serve as the best case scenario in officials’ eyes, which would wrap with the World Series at a neutral, warm-weather site.