out of the ballpark ... BUT STILL IN THE GAME

Alumnus Plays Role in Dodgers Winning Season 

By Emily Kepley, Marketing Undergraduate Student

Greg Taylor

Greg Taylor, ’85, was in Arizona with the Los Angeles Dodgers for spring training when the coronavirus pandemic hit home. The Dodgers were scheduled to host the 2020 All-Star game, and Taylor was behind the scenes getting footage for the team’s in-stadium entertainment and marketing needs. He had just finished the last day of shooting when the team heard the news that the NBA was suspending their season.

In his position as LAD Productions executive producer, Taylor has had the opportunity to work with sports legends like LA Lakers stars Magic Johnson, who is an owner of the Dodgers, and the late Kobe Bryant, a fan of the team. One of the production team’s creative projects this season was a video tribute to Bryant, narrated by legendary announcer Vin Scully. The tribute was planned for opening day in March but then rescheduled for what would have been Bryant’s 42nd birthday Aug. 23. The video exceeded 3 million views across multiple platforms.

Kobe Bryant Dodgers

The Dodgers found many ways to stay connected with fans this year, launching preseason Zoom parties that allowed players and fans to connect in a way they never had before. More than 10,000 people participated in the first party, an unprecedented capacity for Zoom at that time.

When the baseball season resumed July 23, instead of having 50,000 people in the stands, Dodger Stadium, the nation’s largest-capacity and third-oldest ballpark for Major League Baseball, was left empty and quiet. Fans purchased cardboard cutouts of themselves to sit in the stands, and proceeds raised more than $1.5 million for the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation.

With recorded applause in stadiums across the country, the 2020 MLB season looked — and sounded — very different. The Dodgers worked to create an atmosphere that would mimic Dodger Stadium’s unique sound and help the players feel a little more “normal.” This included piecing together clips of recordings from previous Dodgers games, fan-favorite songs and live organ music that continued to fill the stadium.

“It’s so strange to be at the stadium 10 minutes before the national anthem and it’s quiet except for the music the DJ is playing, and then we turn on the crowd sounds,” says Taylor. “We wanted to make sure that it sounded as close to Dodger Stadium as it could.”

Greg Taylor in booth

The abnormal season gave Taylor an unexpected opportunity to use broadcasting and film skills he’s been honing since his time at Central Missouri State University. While at CMSU, Taylor landed a KMOS-TV scholarship position that gave him an edge when starting his broadcast career.

“One of the best things that happened to me during my time at school was getting involved with KMOS-TV,” Taylor says. “When I left the university, I had hands-on experience working at a TV station.”

This season, coronavirus precautions prevented Taylor and his LAD Productions team from having direct access to the players, whereas coaches, athletic trainers, medical personnel and public relations professionals still did. Since they couldn’t go onto the field, Taylor’s team used robotic cameras for certain shots, including in the press room for an Aug. 28 Jackie Robinson Day feature.

The lack of fan interaction in the stands meant the players also had to adjust. During an August game, first baseman and outfielder Cody Bellinger wasn’t immediately sure whether he’d hit a home run.

“It just cleared the fence,” Taylor recalls, “but because there were no fans out there, we couldn’t tell if the outfielder for the Milwaukees caught it ... or if it went over.”

After a short season of just 60 games, the Dodgers hosted the American League Division Series, creating a home ballpark environment for each competing team. Despite unexpected challenges and creative limitations, Taylor and his team helped make history as the Dodgers claimed their first World Series title since 1988.

 

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