My life will never be the same after attending my first Korean baseball game this past weekend. Even my love for the sport of baseball will never be the same. This past weekend was a life altering experience.
The Doosan Bears (Seoul, Republic of Korea) of the Korean Baseball Organization has made a fan for life!
My decision to attend a game was made on a whim out of pure curiosity. I knew I loved the game but I also knew I was spoiled by the greatest baseball product on the planet, Major League Baseball. My expectations weren't high, to be honest. I knew the product on the field wouldn't compare to back home.
The KBO is much, much more than just the product on the field.
Games in Korea are a full fan experience. There is never not something going on in the stands.
The cheers, the chants, and the songs sung in impeccable unison. The passion for the game and love for the Doosan Bears is promoted for nine straight innings. Non-stop.
It's truly inspiring. Even more, it's an absolute blast. Here's a little taste:
The team hype man that leads the crowd in unified chants and the cheerleaders are a fun touch to the game. The beer chugging contest where the winner wins a 12 pack of 40 ounce bottles of Cass Beer (Koreas Anheuser-Busch equivalent) provides an interesting twist on how lax Korean society is about public consumption.
I'll take my love for the Baltimore Orioles to the grave with me. That being said, while Orioles Park at Camden Yards is my favorite baseball stadium on the planet, the fan experience is nothing compared to Jamsil Baseball Stadium in Seoul, Republic of Korea.
I'm afraid when I do return to baseball in the United States, I'll be bored with it.
Going to my first Korean baseball experience wasn't without nerves. My Korean speaking skills are minimal and my reading comprehension is even worse (I have no clue what the words in the video above translate to).
Lucky for me, upon arriving to the Sports Complex metro stop on the Seoul Metro, I happened to exit next to two lovely people, Jennifer and Julian, who I caught speaking English. I wasn't sure if I should bother them but I shot my shot and asked if they spoke English and was immediately greeted with smiling faces.
I wasn't sure how I was going to order my tickets at the box office but Jennifer was quick to jump in and order the ticket for me in Korean. They even made sure to get me a ticket right behind them! To say I was lucky is an understatement.
Aside from the hour long rain delay, the game was a blast. The Bears defeated the Hanwha Eagles 13-6 that night (Disclaimer: I had to leave early to catch the metro home before it shut down for the night).
I enjoyed it so much I returned for the game the following night. I did so by myself but I met an American and an Australian who are here teaching English as well.
I think I found my new past time while in Korea. Doosan is 2-0 when I attend a game at Jamsil Baseball Stadium!
The Bears are currently (as of July 31st, 2018) in first place in the KBO with a dominant record of 65-34. They have a commanding eight game lead over the SK Wyverns of Incheon, Republic of Korea.
The two best pitches on the team are Americans, Josh Lindblom and Seth Frankoff.
When traveling to Seoul, attending a Doosan Bears game at Jamsil Baseball Stadium is a must, baseball fan or not. The atmosphere is totally worth experiencing. The players are definitely worth checking out (*cough cough Baltimore Orioles* who are in need of a closer ---> Ham Deok-ju). Designated Hitter Choi Joo-hwan hit two home runs on Saturday and Bears starting pitcher Josh Lindblom pitched eight innings only giving up five hits and one earned run.
The KBO might give me a sense of normalcy as baseball could be the link between Korea and home when I get homesick.