Messy home run thrusts Dodgers fan — and a plate of nachos — into limelight
A plate of nachos and a cheesy Dodgers fan became unlikely marquee stars of a game in Los Angeles Wednesday night.
Justin Turner’s third-inning solo home run fell through the hands of fan Brando Lopez, sitting in the first row behind the left field wall of Dodger Stadium. The ball splashed into a plate of the baseball fondue.
Lopez, 27, of Los Angeles, came up with the ball and became an instant social media celebrity thanks to images of his jacket and face covered in melted cheese.
The nachos were actually his friend’s. She had put the yummy concoction on top of the Chavez Ravine wall for a picture when Turner stepped to the plate about 375 feet away and blasted a change-up from Colorado Rockies pitcher Jon Gray.
“My first thought was, ‘Oh God, this ball is coming straight at me,’” Lopez told NBC Los Angeles early Thursday morning.
The decision to go to Wednesday night’s game was a last-second move, said Lopez, who was eager to see Dodger Stadium renovations that fans were denied in 2020 due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Among the new features to the old stadium are “home run seats” which put fans on top of the wall — and in position to potentially interfere with long balls in play.
“My second thought was, ‘Try not to interfere with the play. Try not to extend my hand over the wall,’ ” Lopez said.
Justin Turner of the Los Angeles Dodgers hits a solo homerun during the third inning at Dodger Stadium on April 14, 2021 in Los Angeles, Calif.Harry How / Getty Images
He tried to protect the nachos, but couldn’t come up with a clean catch or a spotless jacket.
“And yeah I put my hands above the nachos,” said Lopez, who works in the admissions department at nearby Occidental College. “I bobbled the ball. It went right trough my hands, it hit my hands and into the nachos.”
A modest Lopez said he was nothing more than a supporting actor for the real “star of” this latest baseball blockbuster.
“But I’ve been thinking, like, the nachos, the nachos is the star of the show,” the humble fan said. “Without that whole mess, I don’t think it would have been such a cool moment.”
Lopez triumphantly held the homer ball in the air, not aware he was about to be Hollywood’s next viral hit or even that he was covered in cheese.
“To be honest with you, I feel like I blacked out for a few seconds. I didn’t notice that I was covered in cheese until after putting my hand up and kind of noticing like, ‘What’s all this?’ “
The Dodgers, channeling their inner-Village People, immediately dubbed Lopez “Nacho nacho, man” and called Wednesday’s game “Nacho average night.”
The Dodgers sent Lopez two team hoodies and, of course, another plate of nachos to replace the one ruined by Turner.
The Dodgers third baseman said he knew he made solid contact but wasn’t sure it would be a round-tripper as the ball fought its way through the West Coast marine layer that so often prevents home runs at night.
It wasn’t until Turner saw the exploding cheese that he knew it was a homer. The play was reviewed by MLB to make sure Lopez or any other fans didn’t reach over the wall.
“I saw it kind of splatter up and then when they went to look at it and showed the replay and saw that it was nachos,” Turner told reporters after the game. “I came up in the clubhouse and asked (a team attendant) if he could run that guy out a new tray of nachos.”
Turner added: “I felt bad. I’m sure it was not a $2 plate of nachos, so I wanted to replace them for the guy.”