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Dan Johnson At The Trop For Opening Day… Sort Of

Cardboard cutout of former Rays 1B Dan Johnson, occupying the seat where his home run in game 162 landed
The seat that Dan Johnson's home run landed in during Game 162 is now occupied by a cardboard cutout of the former Rays first baseman (photo: Steve Carney/St. Pete Nine)

His home run in the bottom of the ninth in Game 162 in 2011 helped propel the Tampa Bay Rays landed in seat 10 of Row T in section 140 at Tropicana Field, and for the start of the 2021 regular season, Dan Johnson is in the ballpark, in a different sort of way.

Even though around 9,000 fans will be in attendance for Friday’s game against the New York Yankees, the seat Johnson’s home run landed in is closed off as part of the social distancing protocols.  That gave the team an idea: have Johnson’s cardboard cutout continue to occupy the seat.

“That was from last year,” Rays vice present of marketing and creative services Eric Weisberg said.  “But since that seat is zip tied, we kept it on place.”

Johnson’s cutout was part of thousands that took the place of fans at the Trop for the 2020 season, but with people being allowed back inside the stadium, all the cutouts were removed from the seats.

All except that one.

Written By

Steve Carney is the founder and publisher of St. Pete Nine. One of the people most associated with baseball coverage in Tampa Bay, he spent 13 seasons covering the Rays for flagship radio station WDAE, first as producer of Rays Radio broadcasts, then as beat reporter beginning in 2011. He likes new analytics and aged bourbon, and is the owner of one of the ugliest knuckleballs ever witnessed by baseball scouts.

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