Tag Archive | "Seoul"

Baseball Weekend in Seoul


Friday night I headed up to Seoul for a baseball filled Saturday. I had met my friend Kihoon Jung via Twitter and Facebook about a year ago, but I never had the opportunity to meet him in person until this weekend. The plan was to see Kihoon play in 2 games with 2 different teams early in the morning. Then the two of us were going to head to Jamsil Baseball Stadium to see the Doosan Bears and Lotte Giants play.

Early Saturday morning we headed out to Kihoon’s first baseball game of the day. We left before 6am since the game started at 6:30. It had rained a bit the night before, but the rain had left by morning. It remained cool and cloudy, but turned out to be a good day for a game. It wasn’t that great for taking photos though with the low light. I had brought my camera to take some action photos of the guys playing.

Game 1 was a lot of fun. Kihoon was playing with his company team from Doosan, the Doozins. They had a pretty good team and were definitely better than their opposition from a bank. Soon it was evident that the game would not be close. I loved watching these guys play. You could see the love they had for the game, and everyone was very friendly to me as I took photos. Despite the low light, and my camera doesn’t do great with low light action shots, I felt I got a few good shots. Here are some photos of the guys playing hard and having fun.

Doozins Baseball

Kihoon Jung at bat for the Doozins

#22 "The Rocket" on the hill for the Doozins

Hitting the ball hard

The Doozins Baseball Team

Thanks to all the guys for making me feel right at home. Good luck the rest of the season.

Kihoon’s 2nd game got canceled. Too much rain fell the night before and the grounds were too wet to play. So we came up with alternative plans. After returning home, we went to a nearby middle school and played catch in the school yard. That was a lot of fun for me. I don’t get the chance to play catch often, so anytime I do get that chance I have to take it. Surprisingly my arm felt okay after throwing, and it felt good the next day as well.

We then decided to get cleaned up and head into town before the Doosan/Lotte game that night. We ventured around town a bit and I got to see some parts of Seoul that I hadn’t seen before which was nice. While walking around, Kihoon led us to some batting cages and we decided to take some swings. It was great. I love the batting cages here. They generally throw around 60-65 mph with the faster cages getting up to about 80 mph. I didn’t do too bad, but it was nice to get my first swings of the year. I have some cages nearby, but I have yet to venture over to them yet this year. I have to get over there soon and get in some more swings.

After a trip around town, we headed over to Jamsil Baseball Stadium for the Doosan Bears game against the Lotte Giants. Kihoon is originally from Busan, so he is a huge Giants fan. I had seen the Giants play in Busan last year, but I had never seen Doosan play before (they share Jamsil with the LG Twins). The two teams fans are some of the crazier and with a sold out game, it was going to be a great time. And it was.

The game turned out to be one of the best I have ever seen. Doosan jumped out early, but Lotte’s big bats soon bounced back to take a 6-3 lead. They pounded new Doosan starter Fernando Nieve in his first KBO start and ended his night early.  It was a back and forth game and got rough at the end cheering for the Giants. The Giants defense let them down late in the game. The shortstop made an error that led to an unearned run. Then up 1 late in the game, the Giants center fielders dove for a ball and just missed it. When the left fielder slipped backing up the play, the lead off batter wound up at 3rd with a triple. He soon scored to tie the game, and Doosan would eventually take a 7-6 lead into the 9th inning.

This is when it got interesting. The Bears didn’t immediately bring in their closer, and the Giants lead off hitter singled up the middle. Doosan then decided to bring in the closer to face the reigning triple crown winner Lee Dae-ho. Dae-ho is a beast. He had been beaned earlier in the game after driving one deep over the fence but foul. This at bat he kept it fair. He lined a home run over the left field fence for a 8-7 Giants lead in the top of the 9th. The crowd, half of who were Giants fans, went nuts. It was great. Why they decided to pitch to the biggest threat in the KBO I’ll never know, but I am glad they did.

The game was a thrilling one as the Giants came back and won the game, and I had an amazing time. I can’t wait to get back and see more baseball in Seoul, and I am really looking forward to getting back down to Busan to see more Giants games. They really do have the craziest fans, and I love it.

View from our seats in center field

The Giants version of a rally hat for fans?

Final Linescore

 

 

I had an amazing time in Seoul. Thanks to Kihoon for inviting me up to see some baseball.

 

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Posted in KBOComments (1)

Best Baseball Stadiums in Korea


One of my goals this year was to see a game in all of the stadiums here in Korea.  There are 7 stadiums in the KBO.  Most of them are older and outdated.  The teams here are used more as marketing objects than money makers so little is put back into the stadiums.  I visited my last stadium after visiting Daejeon Baseball Stadium on the last day of the season.  After seeing the last stadium, I decided to rank the stadiums of the KBO.

Here are my rankings of the 7 in the league.

#7 Moodeung Stadium – Home of the Kia Tigers

Clearly the worst stadium is Moodeung Stadium in Gwangju, home of the Kia Tigers. The most successful team in KBO league history (10 championships) has not use any of that success to upgrade the ballpark. The seats are falling apart, the stadium is plain and ugly with everything made of concrete, and there is nothing aesthetically appealing about the stadium at all. But it doesn’t stop there. The concession choices are limited, and what they do have is not very good.

Moodeung Baseball Stadium Kia Tigers

Moodeung Baseball Stadium - Home of the Kia Tigers

#6 Daegu Baseball Stadium – Home of the Samsung Lions

Daegu Baseball Stadium is only a slight step up from Moodeung. Again a concrete monstrocity, the stadium is crammed with little room to move around with narrow isles. The seats are old and uncomfortable, and the food that is offered is not very good. When going to a game here bring in your own food. The only positive that can be pulled form this stadium is the atmosphere. With so many fanatical fans, the stadium can be rocking when full, but that is league wide and not specific to Daegu.

Daegu Baseball Stadium Samsung Lions

Daegu Baseball Stadium - Home of the Samsung Lions

#5 Daejeon Baseball Stadium – Home of the Hanwha Eagles

Another horrible stadium by American standards, Daejeon Baseball Stadium gets the nod over Daegu simply for their concessions being out among the stands instead of on a concourse away from the action. Again an old, run down place to watch a game with not a lot offered as far as food selection, the stadium could use a lot of work.

Daejeon Baseball Stadium Hanwha Eagles

Daejeon Baseball Stadium - Home of the Hanwha Eagles

#4 Jamsil Baseball Stadium – Home of the LG Twins and Doosan Bears

The only stadium shared by two teams, Jamsil was built in the early 80’s like most other stadiums in Korea. It hosted the 1988 Olympic Baseball Games and is situated next to Seoul Olympic Stadium. This is one of the bigger stadiums in the league holding over 30,000. It’s a nice place to see a game and reminds me a lot of the old cookie-cutter fields from the USA. The food selection is much better here with more choices inside and out of the stadium.

Jamsil Stadium LG Twins Doosan Bears

Jamsil Baseball Stadium - Home of the LG Twins and Doosan Bears

#3 Sajik Baseball Stadium – Home of the Lotte Giants

Sajik is also known as the Mecca for Korean Baseball. It is a nice stadium that really benefits from being in Busan on the coast. Many nights the air will get cooler and a nice breeze will blow in off the water, which makes the game a bit more enjoyable during summer. It is one of the bigger stadiums holding over 28,000 fans, and might be the most energetic stadium. The food selection is good with a lot of variety, the fans are phenomenal, and it’s just a great place to see a game.

Sajik Baseball Stadium Lotte Giants

Sajik Baseball Stadium - Home of the Lotte Giants

#2 Mokdong Baseball Stadium – Home of the NEXEN Heroes

I got a really good feeling when I visited Mokdong Stadium. It is in the middle of the pack as far as size holding around 18,000. I really enjoyed the stadium because I got the same feeling I did when I went to minor league games in the States in that I felt close to the game. There is no seating in the outfield so it forces you down the baselines where you get the feeling of being close to the players. The food selection was decent, and the fans were again very enthusiastic even for a losing team.

Mokdong Baseball Stadium NEXEN Heroes

Mokdong Baseball Stadium - Home of the NEXEN Heroes

#1 Munhak Stadium – Home of the SK Wyverns

Clearly in a class of its own, Munhak Stadium is a great place to watch a game. This is the only stadium in Korea that could come close to a Major League Stadium in America. Really the only thing it might lack is a lot of luxury boxes. It would make a great minor league stadium as is. It has the look and feel of a great stadium with a grass area in left field to throw down a blanket and watch the game. In right field there is a BBQ area where you can rent a space and cook during the game. It is also the only recently built stadium having been built in 2001. This is the #1 place to see baseball in Korea.

Munhak Baseball Stadium SK Wyverns

Munhak Baseball Stadium - Home of the SK Wyverns

Honorable Mention
Suwon Baseball Stadium – This stadium is no longer being used in the KBO, but it is better than half of the stadiums in use. It is the former home of the Hyundai Unicorns, which is now the NEXEN Heroes. The stadium is still used for high school tournaments.

Suwon Baseball Stadium

Suwon Baseball Stadium - Former Home of the Hyundai Unicorns

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Incheon – SK Wyverns and Munhak Baseball Stadium


Last week during my summer vacation, I got the chance to make a trip up to Seoul/Incheon and see the home of the SK Wyverns.  I was glad I made the trip.  Munhak Baseball Stadium is the best stadium I’ve seen in so far in Korea.  I have been to 5 of the 7 used by the KBO, and this one really stands out as the gem of the league.

The stadium was built in 2001 and holds 28,500 people.  Maybe a little small for MLB standards, but this one is nice no matter what league you play in.  The stadium has all the amenities you would normally find in a professional stadium, plus a few extras.  Above the left field stands is a small grassy area where families can spread a blanket and have picnics. In the right field stands there is an area where you can have BBQs.  Both areas were full of patrons on the Friday night I was there.  Two large video boards sit in above the outfield seats and bring you all the information and highlights you need.  The hitters background in center field is a tree lined area where a fountain will go off when a Wyverns player hits a home run.

I was treated to a pitching duel that included former major leaguer Roman Colon of the Kia Tigers. Colon pitched great but in the end would be saddled with the loss.  An error in the first inning would lead to an unearned run, and that would be the difference in the end as SK would beat Kia 2-1.

The SK fans were awesome.  Cheering and screaming the entire game.  The one thing that stood out from the cheerleading was hearing what sounded like the music to New Kids On the Block’s Hanging Tough.   Repeatedly they would play this music while cheering on their team.  Each time it came on I would crack a little smile and think about the little league games I played in.  There was a team I played against and for that would play hanging tough between innings.  Thankfully the league finally banned them from playing music.

One thing I really enjoyed about Munhak Stadium was that with 1 ticket you could walk around just about anywhere in the stadium to sit.  The general admission seats run 8,000 won and run from dugout through the outfield to the opposite dugout.  There isn’t a bad seat in the house.  I watch some of the game from the outfield, to the infield, to the seats high up above home plate.  All were great places to see the game.

There was one fan that stood out.  Anytime there was music, he was waving his hands around in a circular motion like a madman.  It was quite funny to see this guy do this EVERYTIME there was music.  No matter if it was a short 10 second clip of music or for almost 2 minutes between innings, he was going at it and going hard.  Below you will see a picture of him.  I have dubbed him the Wyverns #1 fan.  I took a video of him (I was in the upper deck so he is a little small), but it’s worth a look.  Enjoy.

I highly recommend taking in a game in Incheon if you are ever in Seoul.  It’s just a subway ride away, and you won’t be disappointed.  Take a look at some of the photos I took while at the game.  If you’d like to see more of Munhak Stadium, please check out my Flickr page.

Munhak Baseball Stadium

View from CF Munhak Baseball Stadium

With the SK Wyverns Mascot

SK Wyverns #1 Fan

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Junior Worlds Baseball Coming to Korea


The International Baseball Federation announced that Seoul will host the 2012 World Junior Baseball Championship.  This will mark the first time South Korea has hosted the biannual event.

The tournament will be held from late August through early September for some 600 players aged 18 and under.  Around 20 countries will compete.

South Korea has won the championship a total of 5 times, including the last two, trailing only Cuba with 11 titles.

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Manic Monday – The Bullpen Gospels


Another one of my new segments is Manic Mondays.  I plan to bring you the crazier side of baseball.  Today I want to start with a book review.

I recently found a bookstore in Seoul who carries a large selection of English books and better yet, baseball books.  I was excited to find out they had the new release The Bullpen Gospels by Dirk Hayhurst.  I ordered it right away and it has not disappointed.  Hayhurst spent several seasons in the minors with the San Diego Padres and wrote about his time in the minors.

This book is a must read for any baseball fan.  The stories he tells are more than just about long road trips in the minor leagues.  Hayhurst also hits on the life of a minor leaguer and how its not always sunshine and roses.  But don’t get me wrong, there are some lough out loud stories as well.  I was reading the other day in my local coffee shop and getting all sorts of funny looks from the fact I could not stop laughing while reading this book.

Currently Dirk Hayhurst is with the Toronto Blue Jays but on the 60-day DL. Hopefully he will return to his 2009 form that made him a valuable reliever for the Jays.

So give it a chance and check it out.  I don’t think you will be disappointed.  It’s the funnies book on life as a professional ballplayer since the classic Ball Four.  It should be available at any local bookstore, or if you want to help me out click on the Amazon.com link below to order and have it shipped to your door.

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Journey to Seoul Part 2


After checking out Mokdong Stadium, I decided to head over to Jamsil Stadium to see a game.  Jamsil is home to the LG Twins and the Doosan Bears.  On this day I got the chance to see the LG Twins face the Hanwha Eagles.  It my first taste of a large stadium in Korea.  The first two I have seen hold between 13-18,000 fans.  Jamsil holds over 30,000.  It was built in 1982 and is next to Seoul Olympic Park.  The stadium also hosted the 1988 Olympic baseball competition, even though baseball was not an official sport that year.

I got there early to check out the stadium and the surrounding area.  It was nice to walk around to see the Olympic Stadium and some of the other things left over from the Olympics in 1988.  There are some nice statutes of Olympic sports around the area and a street with Korean Olympic stars from past years.

I bought a ticket for the outfield and took off to see the inside of the stadium.  The outfield was a nice place to watch a game, but I didn’t like the fact that I couldn’t walk around the entire stadium with an outfield ticket.  So after watching a few innings from the outfield, I went out and got a cheap ticket for the infield so I could see the whole stadium.

The game action was really good with it being tied 0-0 till the bottom of the 7th when LG scored 3 runs to break the game open.  During the first 7 innings the fans were really into the game.  It was a lot of fun to see the action both on the field and in the stands.  The fans here are so passionate and its so great to see.  However, when LG scored 3 in the 7th it really got crazy.  I was fortunate to be on the LG side when the runs came across and the noise was deafening.  Every fan was on their feet yelling at the top of their lungs.  It was a great site to see.

Despite the lack of ability to walk around the entire stadium with any ticket, the experience was great.  The stadium was old but still in good shape.  It is your typical 80s concrete monstrosity, but it had a little character with a different layout than normal.  The bullpen is connected to the dugout so when a new pitcher would come in, it seemed like he was running directly from the dugout.

If you are ever in the area, check out a game here.  Be sure to give yourself a little bit of time to check out the surrounding area with the Olympic Park directly next door.  One of the great things was the fact that it is directly outside a subway stop, so there is no long walk from the subway to see a game.  I know I’ll be back so I can see a Bears home game.  Check out my Flickr page if you are interested in more pictures from the game.

‘Till Next Time

TBJM

Jamsil Stadium

Jamsil Stadium

Jamsil Stadium

LG Twins Fans

Jamsil Stadium

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Journey to Seoul


This last weekend I made the train ride up to Seoul to check out some of the baseball action up north.  There are 3 stadiums in the Seoul area, 2 in Seoul and 1 in Incheon.  The plan was to head up Friday and come back late Sunday night while taking in 1 new stadium a night.  My first stop was Mokdong Baseball Stadium in western Seoul.

Mokdong Stadium is home to the NEXEN Heroes.  The Heroes have a strong tradition in the KBO winning the championship 4 times (2nd only to Kia’s 10 titles).  However, this year NEXEN is mired at the bottom of the standings.  On Friday night, NEXEN happened to be playing the Kia Tigers, who again are near the top of the standings.

The game was a very good one.  Both starters had strong performances but came away with no decisions.  The game was tied after 9, and I thought I might see my first ever tie baseball game.  The rules here are a little different than back home.  If the game is tied after 12 innings, the game ends in a tie.  I understand why they have the rule, but I am not a big fan of it.  However, I am one of the fans who not only roots for free baseball (what I call extra innings), but I am one that wants to be at the park to witness the 18 or 20 inning game.

I would not see my first tie game, but I would see another first.  In the top of the 10th Kia would score to go ahead, but NEXEN would not quit.  They tied the game in the bottom half of the inning.  So onto the 11th we would go.  With a quiet half of the inning from Kia, NEXEN came to bat with a chance to win it, and this is where it got interesting.

With 2 outs in the inning and runners on first and second, reliever Lee Dong-hyeon would unleash a wild pitch to put runners at 2nd and 3rd.  But he wasn’t finished.  After walking the batter to load the bases, Lee Dong-hyeon then unleashed a 2nd wild pitch allowing the runner from 3rd to score the winning run.  This was my first walk-off wild pitch at a professional game.  After seeing the replays on TV a few nights later, the catcher didn’t do him any favors.  He simply tried to backhand both pitches, and they both got by him.  Anyway the damage was done and NEXEN walked away with the win.

A few notes about the game and the stadium:

  • The Kia Tigers fans traveled well.  There were a lot of them, they actually outnumbered the Heroes fans, and they were very loud.  Any hit or out was cheered in unison which was very impressive.
  • I arrived early to see batting practice, and as I stood down the left field line I almost got hit by a ball.  It was drizzling so I had my umbrella out when one of the Tigers players hits a screaming line drive home run down the line right at me.  My first instinct was to try and catch it.  Then I realized I was holding my umbrella so I thought of trying to catch it with the umbrella.  I quickly realized this was not a smart thing to do so at the last second I simply moved out of the way.  The ball landed behind me where I picked it up and gave it to one of the two young boys who came running up after it.
  • In the top of the 5th with the score tied 1-1, Kia attempted to run the squeeze play with runners at 1st and 3rd.  They just happened to run it horribly.    A new left handed pitcher had just been brought in, and the first thing he does is throw over to 1st base two straight times.  Both times the Tigers gave away they were running the squeeze.  So what does NEXEN do, pitch out and catch the squeeze play still on.  I thought it was painfully obvious what they wanted to do, and apparently so did the NEXEN manager.

All in all it was a fun night.  The crowd was into the game, and there was enough action to keep it interesting.  I can’t wait to get back and see another game there.

Next time I’ll be talking about my trip to Jamsil Stadium in Seoul, home of the LG Twins and Doosan Bears (yes they share the stadium).  ‘Till then, here are a few pictures from Mokdong Stadium.

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Seoul Searching


This weekend should be an exciting one for me.  I am leaving Colorful Daegu and heading north to Seoul for some weekend baseball action.  There are 3 stadiums in the Seoul area with 2 in Seoul and 1 in neighboring Incheon.

After a train ride north to Seoul, I’ll be heading to Mokdong Stadium to see the visiting Kia Tigers take on the NEXEN Heroes.  This is the smallest stadium of the 3 and that is the reason I wil

l hit it up on Friday.  I hope the weather holds out for the game.  Right now they are calling for rain most of Friday.

Saturday the weather should clear up.  The temps will still hover around 60 degrees which will make for a nice cool evening to see a game.  I’ll be heading to Incheon on Saturday to see Munhak Stadium, home of the SK Wyverns.  SK will be taking on the Lotte Giants.  Right now SK is atop the league with a 15-5 mark.

Sunday will wrap up at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul with a contest between the visiting Hanwha Eagles against the LG Twins.

During the day I will be checking out some of the sites in Seoul that interest me, but the main part of the trip is to check out the stadiums.  I plan to see all 7 in the league, and this trip will put me at 4 if I am able to see all 3.  It should be a good weekend and I will report back here early next week with all the details.

Until then, I hope you get in some baseball as well and have a great weekend.

TBJM

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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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