betrayed by the jumbotron
August 22, 2010 11:18 AM   Subscribe

Do baseball stadiums hire performers to act like audience members to entertain the crowd on the jumbotron?

I went to a Dodger game, where the jumbotron cameras focused on a little kid in the audience, who was rocking out, dancing, and air guitar-ing to the song. Everyone loved him and it was super cute and funny. I happened to go to another Dodger game a few weeks later, where the jumbotron camera focused on a dude lip syncing and singing along to the music and basically hamming it up for the camera. THEN that same little kid from last time showed up and started dancing! It looked like the same kid in the same little blue jersey.
Were they hired performers? Is that something that stadiums do to keep people from getting bored in the middle of the game?
posted by astrid to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (27 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
No, they don't hire performers. They don't have to...

* point a camera at someone and they will act goofy
* people try to get on the jumbotron
* season-ticket holders are always in the same seats, and the cameramen know how to find them
* jumbotron images are recorded and sometimes the good ones are played back at key moments
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:24 AM on August 22, 2010 [6 favorites]

Maybe the little guy has a plan to get famous.
posted by R. Mutt at 11:25 AM on August 22, 2010

Though the minor league ball team near me does have quick in between inning entertainment. Things like having two kids spin around a bat to get dizzy, then race to home plate.
posted by R. Mutt at 11:27 AM on August 22, 2010

The kid probably goes to Dodgers games all the time and acts goofy.
posted by amro at 11:28 AM on August 22, 2010

Maybe it was a replay from the previous game.
posted by WhiteWhale at 11:32 AM on August 22, 2010

Response by poster: I should have specified - we could see the actual people being filmed across the stadium, so it wasn't replays from previous games.
I will assume the little guy has a season ticket and was dancing around on his own accord, and was not hired to trick people into having fun, because that makes me feel better. (Although now that I think of it I can't remember if he was in the same spot in both games....)
posted by astrid at 11:47 AM on August 22, 2010

It definitely happens sometimes. At a Nationals game a few weeks ago, they had a very obviously pre-arranged skit. They showed a guy in the bleachers who started out putting Old Bay on his fries, and progress to putting it on everything else he was eating/drinking, including his ice cream and in his beer.

That said, your example sounds more to me like this kid goes to a lot of baseball games, so the cameras know where to find him, and he likes to dance, so the cameras know the crowd will like him.
posted by inigo2 at 11:50 AM on August 22, 2010

They do replay stuff from previous games (but usually as a montage or intro), also a lot of goofy-acting people have season tickets. At Bruins games, there is always a dancing guy with a stupid hat, he's been a season ticketholder for years. He is both loved and reviled by fans. I don't go to Celtics games, but the Globe did a writeup on a little kid whose mom bought them both season tickets and he danced and got on the jumbotron every home game.

It also seems the cameramen write down or remember where the people sat who had crowd-pleasing antics, and sometimes those people will come to the next few games and they'll go back to him (different outfit usually). They're quite good at finding things to keep people entertained, and people love dressing ridiculous or acting ridiculous to get on camera. During the playoffs last year, someone dressed as a YipYip was on camera for a good 5 minutes throughout the game.
posted by kpht at 11:54 AM on August 22, 2010

In my city, we've got Dancing Gabe. I wouldn't be surprised if they give him free tickets now that everyone knows him, but he is just a very enthusiastic fan.

There's people who paint themselves with the team colours and bring banners and stuff, so it doesn't seem that unlikely for someone to dance.
posted by RobotHero at 12:00 PM on August 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

I can't find the article, it was in the New York Times, perhaps. It went into a lot of the details of "superfans", people paid to lead the crowd in cheers, dance, etc. The most well known is Cameron Hughes who apparently makes a pretty good living at it.

The Dodgers seem to be on his resumé but he's not a kid, so . . .
posted by jeremias at 12:14 PM on August 22, 2010

They do hire people for this. I've known someone involved in improv groups that have done this.
posted by alikins at 12:32 PM on August 22, 2010

Best answer: I remember seeing a news segment about various kids dancing, emulating a Dodger Superfan. Here's a video of one of the kids who dance along in the stands with the "Don't Stop Believin' Guy." It's become a new tradition at home games at Dodger Stadium.

Jameson Moss (aka the "Don't Stop Believin' Guy").
"If you’ve attended a home game at Chavez Ravine the last few seasons, you’re probably familiar with Jameson Moss — better known to Dodger fans as the “Don't Stop Believin’" Guy. The 19-year-old aspiring actor and musician chanced upon minor celebrity status after his impassioned lip-sync performance of the karaoke standard was caught on camera by the Dodger Stadium Jumbotron in 2008.

In true L.A. fashion, 'God Bless America' and 'Take Me Out To the Ballgame,' musical mainstays of the seventh inning stretch, just aren’t enough anymore. Now a staple of the stadium’s in-game entertainment, fans in attendance have come to expect his ardent rendition of the Journey rock ballad in the middle of the eighth inning.

A singer in a smoky room
A smell of wine and cheap perfume
For a smile they can share the night
It goes on and on and on and on

While it may be jarring to see little kids acting out those lyrics along with Moss, the song never fails to get the crowd on its feet.

So, in addition to Vin Scully’s venerable play-by-play and Nancy Bea’s organ interludes, do we now add this 1981 soft rock hit to the Dodger experience? In tradition-laden baseball, only time will tell. According to Moss, it’s in the Dodgers' interest to prolong his 15 minutes of fame – he claims they rarely lose a game when his performance is broadcast on the stadium’s big screen."

Interview with Jameson Moss.
"I am a season ticket holder... But the Dodgers have been kind enough to offer postseason tickets."
posted by ericb at 1:45 PM on August 22, 2010 [2 favorites]

What jeremias said!
posted by ericb at 1:46 PM on August 22, 2010

Facebook page for The Dodger Stadium "Don't Stop Believin" Guy.
posted by ericb at 1:47 PM on August 22, 2010

Here's an L.A. Times profile.
" ... So ever since [, that's what Moss has been doing, performing to 'Don't Stop Believin' and becoming a feel-good phenomenon in a season that has gone on and on and on and on.

The 19-year-old Santa Monica college student is not there for every game. But when he is, the DodgerVision camera crew seeks him out, hooks him up with some ear buds so that he's in sync with the three-second delay on the big screen, and away they go.

Is he an actor? Of course.

Is he paid? No, but the Dodgers do throw some freebie tickets his way now and then.

Is he famous?

'I was at an In-N-Out Burger the other day and the guy goes, "Hey, aren't you the dancing dude at the Dodger games?"' Moss says.

Fame comes in some funny packages sometimes, and the fact that the camera discovered Moss in the loge section, most often in season seats that his family splits three ways, seems sort of remarkable. At least till you see the quivering, impossible-to-ignore performance in person — one part Belushi, one part rally monkey."
posted by ericb at 1:52 PM on August 22, 2010 [2 favorites]

Oh, and those signs that fans conveniently have ready to flash at the camera? The ones with the letters of the network (ESPN, FOX, etc) "imaginatively" woven into the message? Yeah...Supplied by the network, usually. Though there are fans rabid enough to actually make their own and give the network a free plug.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:05 PM on August 22, 2010

When I was a boisterous little six-year-old, my parents took me to a magic show. I got invited up on stage, and drove the audience wild (apparently), so after the show the magician took me and my family aside, and gave us free tickets to his next show for me to come up on stage again and do my thing.

So it's not outside the realm of possibility that kids that do particularly funny things might get invited back to another game. But, as Cool Papa Bell said, there are always people willing to do crazy things to get on the jumbotron.
posted by Gordafarin at 2:10 PM on August 22, 2010

Yes, teams have traditionally had homegrown "super-fans" who just started showing up and worked their way into team lore. In Baltimore when I was a kid it was "Wild Bill" Hagey, who was just a local drunk dude who liked to lead cheers.

Btw I can't let this go, from the quote above:
In true L.A. fashion, 'God Bless America'...
If "true L.A. fashion" is disdaining "traditional" jingoistic bullshit that was only jammed into sports events after 9/11, then I am very happy to live in L.A.

posted by drjimmy11 at 2:29 PM on August 22, 2010

I swear, I read or heard on the radio a guy being interviewed about how he would be hired as a super-fan to liven things up at sporting events. I couldn't tell you anything more specific than that.
posted by Green With You at 2:44 PM on August 22, 2010

On lack-of-preview it may have been Cameron Hughes.
posted by Green With You at 2:45 PM on August 22, 2010

You're talking about Deuce, if you're talking about the little kid. He's not a plant. I think the whole 8th inning "Don't Stop Believing" is vomit-worthy, but there are enough people in LA who want to be famous that the Dodgers don't have to plant anyone.

No one does. There are enough people who bring signs, who make signs, who dance like fools and leap around that they don't need to hire anyone. Even the Orioles have super fans.
posted by micawber at 2:48 PM on August 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: ericb - awesome! Those are exactly the people we saw at the game. Thanks for the info and videos!!
posted by astrid at 3:14 PM on August 22, 2010

Response by poster: if anyone is curious, I found a video of the Don't Stop Believin Guy at the game we were at (little kid joins in at 1:17): video

Thanks, again, everyone!
posted by astrid at 3:21 PM on August 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

For years there was a shirtless body painted dancer at Penguins games. I'm sure he was just a season ticket holder. Honestly, if you go to enough games the place starts to feel like home and anything goes.
posted by meinvt at 6:44 PM on August 22, 2010

Astrid, I was at the game too and from my vantage point in the Stadium Club I wondered the same thing.
posted by psergio at 10:47 PM on August 22, 2010

Yes. I have worked for professional sports franchises and they do in fact do this. Some, but not all, of the "superfans" you see are in fact plants, who are told to be in a certain section at a certain time so the cameras can pick them up doing crazy things. Sometimes they will have a producer with them to inconspicuously point them in the right direction as to where to be and what to do.
posted by soy_renfield at 6:37 AM on August 23, 2010

I will assume the little guy has a season ticket and was dancing around on his own accord

Safe assumption. Was the little kid at the top of the stairs in the left field bleachers section just next to the bullpen? I've seen him there a couple times and my money is on his dad having season tickets.
posted by allkindsoftime at 7:07 AM on August 23, 2010

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