Dummies fill the ranks as baseball fans stay away from games during coronavirus

SHOWS:

TAOYUAN, TAIWAN (APRIL 17, 2020) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)

1. RAKUTEN MONKEYS WARMING UP AHEAD OF GAME

2. DUMMIES IN FAN MERCHANDISE IN FRONT OF FIELD

3. VARIOUS OF WARM UP

4. VARIOUS OF DUMMIES IN EMPTY RANKS

5. RAKUTEN MONKEYS PLAYER, LIN LI, TALKING TO MEDIA

6. (SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) RAKUTEN MONKEYS PLAYER, LIN LI, SAYING:

"Because of the epidemic we have to compete without an audience for the first time. Everyone is the same, no one has an audience, so each of us has to create a match feeling within ourselves, because to a certain extend the shouts and cheers from the fans help us to get excited about the game. So when there is no audience we still have to deliver the performance that we are expected to show, no matter if it's the required calmness or attitude, so that we have the same feeling as if there was an audience."

7. RAKUTEN MONKEYS HEAD COACH, TSENG HAO-CHU, TALKING TO MEDIA

8. (SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) RAKUTEN MONKEYS HEAD COACH, Tseng Hao-chu, SAYING:

"Actually the training is the same as before, but I think that the interaction between everyone in the baseball stadium and the connection through sound is very important, because when there are no fans and it is very quiet, we have to create some atmosphere ourselves so that everyone can throw themselves fully (into the game)."

9. VARIOUS OF CHEERLEADERS DANCING

10. MANNEQUIN IN FAN MERCHANDISE LOOKING ON

11. VARIOUS OF CHEERLEADERS DANCING

12. CARDBOARD CUT-OUTS REPLACING AUDIENCE

13. (SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) RAKUTEN MONKEYS CHEERLEADER, LIN HSIAO-LU, SAYING:

"I never thought that there'd be a day like today, but it's also quite refreshing. Although I hope that (restrictions) can soon be lifted so that the audience can cheer together with us. But because of the epidemic, we hope that we can do our best from this location, bring our enthusiasm to everyone through cameras and live streaming. We try our best to pretend that the dummies are the fans and make them cheer together with us, so it's all very new and gives us the opportunity to ease the nervous atmosphere surrounding the epidemic."

14. VARIOUS OF MANNEQUINS WEARING FAN MERCHANDISE

15. VARIOUS OF CHEERLEADERS DANCING IN FRONT OF DUMMIES

16. ENGLISH COMMENTATORS IN BOOTH

17. COMMENTATOR RICHARD WANG LOOKING ON

18. COMMENTARY IN PROGRESS

19. LAPTOP SHOWING PLAYER INFO

20. (SOUNDBITE) (English) COMMENTATOR, RICHARD WANG, SAYING:

"Being the only one, not just the earliest, to open the season, I think we have a mission to, to bring the comfort and bring the excitement… or just to bring, to provide a way out for people out there, no matter if you're watching from the (United) States, in Europe or maybe in Australia, I think they are looking at us. I believe if they enjoy the game, that also helps the people, you know, to go through this very tough time."

21. VARIOUS OF MOCK AIRPLANE ADORNED WITH GIANT FACE MASK

22. CARDBOARD CUT-OUTS

23. VARIOUS OF FANS WATCHING GAME AT RESTAURANT

24. WAITER COOKING

25. (SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) INSURANCE SALESMAN, 36, HU CHUN-WEI, SAYING:

"I think it's still more exciting to watch (the game) in the stadium, on location, but to come here to the bar to watch is also very convenient because you can eat and drink and so on."

26. BASEBALL JERSEYS HANGING FROM CEILING

STORY: Baseball matches have to be carried out behind closed doors in Taiwan, while providing rare live action for fans at home in Taiwan and abroad at a time when the coronavirus pandemic has shut down most professional sports around the globe.

Taiwan has been comparatively successful in containing the spread of the virus, reporting to date 395 cases and six deaths in a population of around 24 million. Globally, almost 150,000 people have died from the virus.

Rakuten Monkeys placed cardboard cut-outs of fans complete with face masks in the stands for the game against the Fubon Guardians on Friday (April 17), at least filling some seats as the team's cheerleaders tried their best to inspire the players and audiences at home.

For the first time in 30 years, baseball games from Taiwan are being broadcasted with English commentary and streamed online for free to audiences abroad via social media. As no other baseball league is currently playing, Taiwan's baseball officials see a chance to highlight Taiwanese baseball abroad.

According to Richard Wang, one of the commentators, the English live stream on Twitter was watched by more than 600,000 baseball fans worldwide.

(Production: Fabian Hamacher)

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting