Archive | March, 2011

Opening Day Memories

Opening Day is romantic, rejuvenating, sentimental, fun, and exciting all rolled in one and to me it should be a national holiday. Baseball is a reminder that spring is here and things are starting a new. For many teams it is the only time of year that many teams have a glimmer of hope.

When I was back in the States working I would use a vacation day to take the day off and either attend a game or sit at home and watch baseball all day long. But with all the good memories come some not so great ones as well.

First, let me take a look at some of the better memories.

I can remember several times waking up early in the morning to catch the first pitch of the season coming from somewhere overseas like Japan. In 2008, the Oakland A’s and Boston Red Sox started the season out in Japan and I was up at 3am (or whatever time it was in the US) to watch those games. Some may call me crazy or say that I am hardcore, but I love it.

Several times I was able to attend Opening Day at the Ballpark in Arlington (dubbed the “Temple” by the guys from Sports Radio 1310 in Dallas). Each time I made it the weather was gorgeous, the fans were lively, and the games were great no matter who won. I love seeing pomp and circumstance around the first game. The pagentry of seeing the anthem being sung by a star sometimes (saw Jessica Simpson sing it before I knew who she was), seeing the giant flag out on the field and either jets/bombers flying over the stadium or the bald eagle flying to home plate. With it all wrapped up in one, it makes for such a great experience.

If I couldn’t make it to a game, my routine would be gathering some “baseball” food such as hot dogs, peanuts, sunflower seeds, and a cold beverage to sit down on the couch and watch as many games as possible. ESPN always did a great job of showing multiple games throughout the day. Then the Holy Grail came along in MLB Extra Innings which used to (don’t know if they still do it) give a free preview for a week.

Missing the first pitch of the season is not something I like to do, but sometimes it happens. This year I just arrived back in South Korea and was a little jet lagged still from the 30 hour trip out here. The first game of the year started about 2am here locally, and I was simply unable to stay up and watch it. It was a little frustrating, but it just wasn’t going to happen. It looks like I will miss the Rangers first game as well on Friday because I don’t have internet in my apartment yet. Again, it is a little frustrating but once things get rolling here again I will be able to watch a lot of baseball since the night games back home come on here in the morning before I go to work.

I seem to have little luck in watching my favorite team play on Opening Day, the Atlanta Braves. This year was jet-lag. Last year I was again in South Korea, but I was up and ready to watch the game only to have MLB.tv not work. That was VERY frustrating. I was up early in the morning and the game was not being shown due to technical difficulties. But this wasn’t the only time I had issues. In 2009, I got the chance to go to Atlanta to see the opening game. I couldn’t have been more excited. For the previous 20+ years I had rooted for the Braves good or bad, but it was always from afar. Being able to attend the festivities was going to be amazing for me. The only problem was nobody told mother nature how excited I was.

The game went into a rain delay as it stormed quite hard. The game was halted and my friend and I went home to watch the game on TV only to have the game to go into extra innings. The Braves did win, I did have a good time, but it wasn’t what I had expected for my first Opening Day in Atlanta. I hope to go back one day to see it once again.

Overall, Opening Day is one of the best days for me, but it really is only the beginning of my favorite part of the year – baseball season. After today there is another 182 days of what I like to refer to as “summer greatness”. Then it gets even better with all the greatness that comes with the fall season and the Fall Classic.

So no matter who you root for, today is a day to renew your love of the game, have faith in your team, and have a little hope that your team will see the light of day in October.

I’d love to hear any stories you have of Opening Day’s from the past.

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Posted in MLB3 Comments

Writing for the SK Wyverns

Late last year I was asked to be apart of something that I am very proud of. A friend in Seoul had the opportunity to create the yearly fan book for the Korean Baseball team the SK Wyverns, and he asked me to be apart of it.

I was asked to write two articles for the book, and I couldn’t have been more honored to do so. The two articles were also on two things that I really enjoy. The first article would be over movies and books on baseball. I have always had a love of baseball movies and have seen countless both good and bad and recently I have been reading quite a few more baseball books finding some gems in the process. The second article would be a foreigner’s perspective of watching the SK Wyverns.

I have been fortunate to watch games at all of the stadiums used in the KBO and hands down the SK Wyverns have the best in the league, not to mention some of the most rabid fans. I truly enjoyed the atmosphere at the ballpark and can’t wait to get back to a game there.

I write about baseball because I love the game. It’s been a passion of mine since I was a child, and it’s the one thing that has stayed a passion of mine throughout my life. So being asked to write for a professional baseball teams yearly fan book was a chance of a lifetime.

I have not seen the entire book yet because I just made it back to South Korea this week and have not had time to make it up to Incheon yet. I have seen a portion of the book, and it is truly a work of art. My friend, and chief editor, Kihoon Jung did a fantastic job putting the book together. He deserves a lot of credit for all the hard work he put into it including translating my articles into Korean.

If you are in South Korea and make it up to Incheon, don’t miss the chance to head over to Munhak Baseball Stadium in Incheon to catch a SK Wyverns game. You won’t be disappointed. And while you are there be sure to pick up a copy of the fan book at the stadium.

I would like to thank Kihoon Jung for the opportunity to share my love of the game of baseball to fans in South Korea. It was an honor to be apart of such a great project.

Play Ball!

Click the link below to see part of the book. Scroll down until you see an American posing with the mascot – that’s me and my article.

SK Fan Book

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Posted in KBO0 Comments

Movie Review: Gift of the Game

In 1980, writer Randy Wayne White was in Mariel Harbor, Cuba to help a friend retrieve his family during the Mariel Boatlift. After the week plus that he spent under armed control in the harbor by the Cuban military, he swore he would never go back.

Twenty years later, White set out for Cuba to try and resurrect a children’s baseball league founded by Ernest Hemingway many years before. He set out to find a team to go with him to bring equipment to the kids where Hemingway taught the game years prior. His team would include a priest, his son, and along with many others two former Major Leaguers in Bill “Spaceman” Lee and Jon Warden.

It took them a year to get the people and equipment in place, not to mention talking the American government into allowing them to go. But with equipment in hand, they set off for Cuba and what took place showed how great this game is.

The original plan was to go to the same area where Hemingway lived to seek out the old players from Hemingway’s Gigi Stars team and try to resurrect the children’s league. Things don’t always go as planned, especially when you are in a place like Cuba.

After first arriving, they were denied by the Cuban government help in finding the former players and were told they couldn’t even play a pick up game. So White, with names of the old players in hand, wonders the streets looking for them and finds some of them. They are greeted by smiles and hugs from Hemingway’s former players who are eager to talk about playing baseball with the great writer. They meet with several of the team members and agree to return in 5 days with the equipment to give to the children and hopefully restart the league.

Back in 1980, White had heard about a pitcher nicknamed “the man with 100 moves” and he was anxious to see if he could find him, so he set off to see. Finding the area where he lives, White was told he was not home but to come back the next day. Little did he know that would not be necessary as Perfidio (sp?) Perez would come find him after hearing they were looking for him.

Throughout their trip, White and the guys saw kids playing baseball everywhere with homemade bats and balls. The bats would be hand carved out of tree limbs and they would fashion balls out of anything they could find. It was amazing to see the love of the game there. They don’t have cable TV, Nintendo, and things like malls that take up so much of the attention of kids in other parts of the world. Seeing the looks on the kid’s faces when the guys would stop their bus and hand out equipment was priceless. Holding a real ball or bat in their hands their smiles would light up the night sky.

Twice White, Lee, Warden, and the rest of the guys play pick up games. They were usually out manned but everyone involved always had a great time. After every game a party would spring up and dancing, eating, and drinking would spring about. Just the simple happiness seen in the people of the land was infectious. But it wasn’t always the case.

In downtown Havana things were quite different. There people were much more aware of the police presence around them and were quick to quiz the Americans if they were some sort of police. On one hand you can see the passion for the game and the pure simple joy they get out of it, and the next minute you can see the oppression and fear that these people experience on a daily basis.

Perhaps the best example was from the former players themselves. After returning to hand out the equipment, they were told there would be no game and no party. The joy in their faces had gone and they were very serious. It turns out that higher ups had deemed it wasn’t going to happen and they had no choice but to follow suit. A compromise was soon had that there would be no game, but there would be a party.

The government had allowed the guys to play one sanctioned exhibition game with the Cuban Over 40 team. These were all ex-players who could still play a bit. While the game highlights and banter were fun to watch, the real excitement came after the game. This is when a government official came with armed soldiers to take all the equipment they had brought. They took everything from the bus that they had on them. Luckily they were smart enough to pay someone to hide a lot of the equipment for the kids so when it came time to give it out it was there.

I really enjoyed this film. Bill Lee is always fun to watch. He is a great ambassador for the game and always funny. I was not familiar with Jon Warden but the grew on me very quickly. He is a fun-loving and funny guy who just wants to make people smile. But the best part of the film was the kids. They benefited in the form of equipment and were very excited anytime a hat, ball, glove, or bat was handed out. It’s a shame that they are unable to get the proper equipment needed for the game. There is, and always has been, a wealth of talent there.

I highly recommend anyone who is a baseball fan to watch this film. I was able to rent it through Netflix, but was unable to find it on Amazon. I give it a rating of 4 gloves:

If you enjoy this film, you might also want to check out Bill Lee’s journey to Cuba to share the game in Spaceman: A Baseball Odyssey.

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Posted in Movies, Reviews0 Comments

Game Souvenirs – What do you take home?

One of my favorite things to do is see a new stadium. I love taking in the atmosphere and views of each new one I visit. But I always try and take something away with me as well. In the past I have gotten hats, t-shirts, towels, and more for souvenirs. But until recently I have never thought about the simple souvenir that I had been collecting already, game tickets.

The problem with hats, t-shirts, and what not are that they are bulky and heavy when traveling. Ticket stubs however are small, light, and easy to keep track of. I kept a stub from each of the games I went to in Korea, and from now on I plan on keeping up with that trend.

What do you keep from new places you visit? I’d be interested in knowing what others keep so leave a comment and let me know.

Below are photos of my ticket stubs. One from each of the 7 stadiums in Korea.

Samsung Lions Ticket Stub

Samsung Lions Ticket Stub

LG Twins Ticket Stub

LG Twins Ticket Stub

NEXEN Heroes Ticket Stub

NEXEN Heroes Ticket Stub

Lotte Giants Ticket Stub

Lotte Giants Ticket Stub

Kia Tigers Ticket Stub

Kia Tigers Ticket Stub

SK Wyverns Ticket Stub

SK Wyverns Ticket Stub

Hanwha Eagles Ticket Stub

Hanwha Eagles Ticket Stub

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Posted in KBO, Travel8 Comments

40 by 40 Baseball Edition

A little over 2 years ago, wow how time flies, I came out with a 40 by 40 list. Of that list of 40 things I wanted to do by the age of 40 (yes I am getting old), 10 of them had to do with baseball. After 2 years I have only accomplished 1 of the 40 – #10. Volunteer at an orphanage.

My 10 items that dealt with baseball were:

1. See a World Baseball Classic game
2. See a World Series game
3. See 10 new MLB stadiums
4. Play a baseball game in a foreign country
5. See a baseball game in 5 foreign countries
6. Go to the European Baseball Championships
7. Throw out the 1st pitch at a baseball game
8. Go to the College World Series
9. Coach a baseball team in a foreign country for a game
10. Go to MLB spring training

I have decided to expand my list of 10 to 40 in anticipation of another year abroad as I dream of more and more travel. So here it goes. My expanded 40 by 40 Baseball Edition.

1. See a World Baseball Classic game
2. See a World Series game
3. See 10 new MLB stadiums
4. Play a baseball game in a foreign country
5. See a baseball game in 5 foreign countries (4 to go)
6. Go to the European Baseball Championships
7. Throw out the 1st pitch at a baseball game
8. Go to the College World Series
9. Coach a baseball team in a foreign country for a game
10. Go to MLB spring training
11. Visit the Baseball Hall of Fame
12. Watch a Braves/Mets game (my favorite and least favorite team)
13. Go to the Junior Worlds in Seoul in 2012
14. Watch a UT/Texas A&M game
15. See a high school state championship game
16. Watch a game at Rickwood Field
17. Watch a Cubs/Cardinals game
18. Visit the Korean Baseball Hall of Fame
19. Attend a minor league all-star game
20. See a game at the new stadium in Pensacola, FL
21. Watch a Cape Cod game
22. Visit the Baseball Hall of Fame in Japan
23. Watch the midnight sun game in Alaska
24. Visit the Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum
25. Visit the Field of Dreams movie site
26. Visit the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum
27. Host a baseball podcast
28. Read the book Veeck as in Wreck
29. Read the book The Glory of Their Times
30. Attend the Little League World Series
31. Read the book The American Dream: From Perth to Sacramento
32. Attend the Cooperstown Symposium on Baseball and American Culture
33. Visit the Ty Cobb Museum
34. Attend a Korean Series Game
35. Attend the Caribbean Series
36. Read the book The Catcher Was a Spy
37. Read the book Eight Men Out
38. See the Dodgers play the Giants
39. See the Red Sox play the Yankees
40. Watch an Arizona Fall League game

I don’t know how many of these I can accomplish in the next 5 1/2 years (wow I’ll be at 40 soon), but I am going to try to do as many as I can. I feel in the next year I can check off maybe 10. No matter how many I am able to do, it will be fun trying. What are the top things you want to see/do baseball wise? Leave a comment and let me know. I’d love to hear your ideas.

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Posted in Travel0 Comments

First Game of 2011 – Belmont vs Illinois State

I have not been writing much of late because I have been traveling before heading back to South Korea for another year. I have had some good times heading to the Smoky Mountains, Florida, and Texas. In between all my travels I have taken in a few games already with plans for another tomorrow.

My first game of the year was an early college game between the Belmont Bruins and the Illinois State Redbirds. It was the 2nd game of the season for both teams and game 1 of a double header.

It was a cold overcast Saturday morning, but it was a great day for baseball. I had been able to watch a lot of baseball online over the winter, but there is nothing like being at your first game of the year live. The sounds and smells of the game are something you can’t get when watching the game on TV.  So armed with my camera and some sunflower seeds, I headed out to historic Shelby Park in Nashville.

It was a good game with Belmont coming out on top 5-4. The game went back and forth with Illinois State jumping out on top early 1-0 in the top of the first. But Belmont bounced back quick scoring 2 of its own in the bottom half of the inning.

Left fielder Derek Hamblen went deep for the hometown Bruins and the senior first baseman Nate Woods came up with the game winning RBI in the bottom of the 6th with a double.

It was a lot of fun with roughly 200 people in attendance. I took advantage of being close to the action and worked on getting better with my camera.

 

Belmont vs Illinois State

Shelby Park - Nashville, TN

Belmont vs Illinois State

Safe at First

Belmont vs Illinois State

On the Hill for Belmont

 

I hope to take in a few more college games before leaving for South Korea. Vanderbilt  University, Middle Tennessee State University and Columbia State Community College aren’t too far from home. I plan to catch a game at each over the next week and a half. I might even try to squeeze in a local high school game if I can.

 

Posted in Travel0 Comments


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There are three things in my life which I really love: God, my family, and baseball. The only problem - once baseball season starts, I change the order around a bit. ~Al Gallagher, 1971

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