Baseball in Korea
- Updated: April 17, 2008
My sister-in-law, Kayla, has been working in South Korea, just south of Seoul, teaching English to elementary age students since October and recently went to her first professional baseball game over there. Here’s a report from Kayla in Korea on Baseball in Korea. Take it away, Kayla!
The Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) is made up of nine MLB-comparable teams. Here they are (in their current standings, just for fun):
Kia Tigers I am officially a Woori Heroes fan. LG is the most popular team. They have a huge fan base. Kind of like the Red Sox maybe? The Samsung Lions are like the Yankees – they win a lot but they also have all the money. The Woori Heroes are like the Angels or the Astros. They were only recently moved to Mokdong (near me) and bought by Woori (a tobacco company). They were formerly the Hyundai Unicorns. I’m glad that’s no longer the case. Unicorns is just about the least baseball-y name I can think of. Although come to think of it “Angels” isn’t that great either.
So this weekend I went to not one but TWO baseball games at the Woori Heroes “new” stadium. The stadium wasn’t too impressive in that it’s kind of dated but it was a decent size and the field was beautiful. A few of the stadiums have real grass but Woori’s doesnt. The baseball atmosphere here was the same, if not better, than it is back home. Fans get “thunder sticks”, these inflatable cheering devices that gain their name from the loud noise they make when you beat them together. They’re a great addition to baseball games in my opinion. Just like at home fans make signs and posters. Unlike the stingy stadiums at home, you can bring any food or drink you want into the stadiums here. Or, if you want to buy food at the game you will find all the snacks the same exact price as anywhere else. Now its not America so they are serving gimbap and ramyeon in lieu of hot dogs and nachos but everything is dirt cheap. No $7.00 small fry here!
Two funny things about Korean baseball games:
1. Because you are allowed to bring food in, tons of fans stop at fast food joints along the way to pick up a snack. We saw people with KFC, McD’s, Burger King, and even entire pies from Pizza Hut. So there might not be hot dogs at the game but you can bring your own greasy food to simulate the American baseball experience.
2. There are cheerleaders at baseball games here! Not pyramid-making backflip-doing cheerleaders, just four girls who danced around on the dug out and led the crowd through chants and fight songs. And of course danced with the mascot (haven’t figured out what he is yet). They even had a “kiss cam” during the – well here’s another strange thing. There is no 7th inning stretch. It’s at the end of the 6th inning instead. Kind of makes sense, it’s closer to the middle of the game. That’s it from Kayla in Korea, below you will find some interesting facts about Korean baseball taken from Wikipedia. Thanks for “pitching” in Kayla!
|Doosan Bears||Jamsil Baseball Stadium||30,265||Seoul|
|Hanhwa Eagles||Daejeon Baseball Stadium||12,768||Daejeon|
|Kia Tigers||Moodeung Stadium||15,200||Gwangju|
|Lotte Giants||Sajik Baseball Stadium||30,543||Busan|
|LG Twins||Jamsil Baseball Stadium||30,265||Seoul|
|Samsung Lions||Daegu Baseball Stadium||13,941||Daegu|
|SK Wyverns||Munhak Baseball Stadium||30,480||Incheon|
|Woori Heroes||Mokdong Baseball Stadium||Seoul|
As of the 2007 season, each team plays 126 games in the regular season, resulting in each team playing each other team 18 times. Unlike Major League Baseball in the U.S., but similar to Japan’s NPB league, games are limited in the number of extra innings played, and are considered tied if no result eventuates after 12 completed innings. In official standings, tied games are recorded separately, but are not included in the calculation of winning percentages.The KBO season culminates in its championship series, known as the Korean Series. Currently, the top four teams qualify for the post-season; the team with the best record gains a direct entry into the series. The other three teams then compete in a step-ladder playoff: the first, best-of-three series involves teams finishing 3rd and 4th; the winner of this series then plays off in a best-of-five series against the team finishing 2nd. The winner of this final playoff wins the other entry into the best-of-seven Korean Series. During post-season, games are declared tied if no result occurs after 15 innings, and these games must be replayed.
I’m back again, did you miss me? Here’s a list of some US players that are currently on rosters in the KBO. Pitchers Matt Randel, Cedrick Bowers, Marty McLeary, Jamie Brown, Wes Obermuller and Kenny Rayborn. Then there are outfielders Jacob Cruz and Karim Garcia along with DH Cliff Brumbaugh. The only one I even recognize is Karim Garcia and I wouldn’t know him if I bumped into him. I think he recently played on the Yankees. I hope you enjoyed our look into Korean Baseball!