With our bags packed with clothes, signs, wigs, modified sombreros, and an inflatable shark (shout out to "The Shark" Roger Bernadina), Team Jokbal took to the road for a weekend trip to Masan Stadium to see the NC Dinos vs. KIA Tigers with a stop off at Jamsil for the Doosan Bears vs. Lotte Giants on Friday night. While most of us (3 members live in the mountainous countryside of Korea) have to take to the road pretty much every week to catch games, Jamsil is more or less our central location and where we spend most of our time. However, we like to sprinkle a bit of love and fun at other stadiums around Korea when schedules line up. Also, on the road is where we have had most of our success. We picked up the Michael Bowden jersey during a road series for the Doosan Bears at SK Happy Dream Park (Munhak Stadium) in Incheon.
It was an epic weekend of laughs, smiles, jokbal, charity, and baseball. I was able to have a bit of a chat on Friday night with Jeff Manship about collecting some signed items from him that Saturday in Masan. He told me to just let him know when we made it to the stadium and he would meet us during a break with some things. So after a great night of spreading the Team Jokbal message at Jamsil and a bit of sleep, we hit the train at 9 a.m. to make our way to Masan.
After arriving at Masan Stadium around 1 p.m. we messaged Jeff and got to work setting up for the day. Our setup involved getting our shark ready for Roger Bernadina and Jokballer Tony making repairs to his sombrero. Shortly after getting everything ready we headed over to the player entrance to meet Jeff and get in a few words with Roger Bernadina and Pat Dean upon the KIA bus arrival.
Around 1:30 Jeff was able to get a break and bring out some awesome stuff for us. He gave us a pair of his signed cleats, a signed ball, a Na Sung-bum signed bat, and a Kang Jin-sung signed bat. We also had a chance to get him to pose with a pack of jokbal.
We cannot say enough good things about Jeff. He is an awesome guy that cares and takes care of his fans. During our chat and item exchange we were able to see his interactions with some of kids. He is truly a class act and we are very happy to have been able to meet him for the first time a couple of weeks ago.
Shortly after Jeff headed back into the stadium the KIA bus arrived and we prepared to meet and great Roger with the shark and Pat with a pack of jokbal. Tony got a chance to get the shark signed by Bernadina so that we can place it in the auction and I had a minute or 2 with Dean to present him with a pack of jokbal and explain a bit more about items we are looking to collect from the players. Dean, also a top notch guy, said he would be sure to get some things together so that we could pick them up in the near future.
After that we headed into the stadium to make a few pregame jokbal shouts and watch the warmups. During one of our shouts, KIA catcher, Kim Min-sik looked up at us and had a little laugh as we held up our signs and a pack of jokbal. We haven't been able to officially confirm, but we have a feeling that he may have eaten the pack of jokbal that we handed off to Pat.
In the end it was a great weekend and a great trip. Before closing, we would like send a big thanks to Jeff for the items and a big thanks to Na Sung-bum and Kang Jin-sung for the signed bats. Also, a big thanks goes out to Roger Bernadina and Pat Dean. You are all Team Jokballers in our book!
So George and I decided to hit the table topping series between KIA and NC. A trip I greeted with trepidation it has to be said.
Firstly, my exchanges with NC fans hadn't been positive in the past. Once I got asked to leave their fan zone, even though I was cheering for their team, because I was a foreigner. The week before this trip, Team Jokbal had been told by some NC fans that they "didn't want us to speak English while [they] ate their dinner."
Secondly, a previous trip to Masan to sit amongst the NC home fans had been uncomfortable. Lots of seats with restricted views, expensive concessions, lots of over-priced table seats and some rude fans. It is fair to say that I wasn't in a hurry to return!
So I had dubbed Masan as the capital city of the Republic of Hate. When we got out of the station, with a green wig and and a shark finned sombrero on our heads, we got the usual stares. But different. The stares usually give way to grins and giggles and often cheers or selfie requests. The ajussis of Masan offered deep scouls. It really did feel like we had arrived in The Republic of Hate. There was one guy chugging a bottle of soju while leading the others... we thought we had met the President of the Republic.
As we walked towards the stadium, we inflated our giant Bernadina shark. I was also modelling the short lived shark finned Team Jokbal sombrero. George, as usual, had his green wig (strange how that is now normal compared to our other antics). The smiles slowly started to appear on the natives. Positive comments and thumbs up followed. Maybe that guy was just a drunk with some other drunks. Maybe he represented nothing but a band of alcoholics. So, we now had mixed feelings. We were disappointed that we had not actually met the President but actually pleased that we may actually still be in Korea.
Time passed as we prepared for the game but so did many NC Fans and Masan locals. Every single one of them was polite, friendly and enthusiastic about the Jokbal campaign. It actually seemed to be the most welcoming stop on our tour to date. Even the Police starting talking to us and helping us. In a short space of time, our diplomatic visit to the Republic of Hate had turned into a fan festival.
Team jokbal had a very successful day too. Former World Series pitcher Jeff Manship had managed to secure us treasure chest of goods for our charity auction. Top man! He even seemed to be happy with the jokbal!
The inflatable shark was signed by Roger Bernardina too. We will be showing it off around all the stadia this season as we plan to auction it too at the end of the season.
So, all in all a very good day! Love beat hate and Busan is seemingly alone in The Republic of Hate. Hopefully, we will bring smiles to that city too, one day!
Just last weekend and by chance, Team Jokbal got a chance to catch up with Jeff Manship in person (first player we didn't reach via social media) at the Doosan vs. NC game at Jamsil. He was out making some passes along the warning track when he heard a bit of English up in the stands and stopped off to have a chat.
We talked a bit about where we are all from, our jobs, family, and our time in Korea. He tossed a ball up to us and we chatted a little more and he carried on with his run. A few minutes later he came back through and by that time we had our Team Jokbal signs out and proudly displayed and he stopped to ask us about what they meant. I was able to go down and give him a printed copy of our mission and he said it sounded great and he had worked with some other groups in the US before so he would be happy to help out and spread the word.
On his final pass he stopped off to mention it to Eric Hacker and when he came back by a fellow Jokbal'er headed down to get him to sign the ball that he had tossed up so that we could put it in with the auction items. He let him know that that Eric was cool with the deal and that they would try to get some things together from their clubhouse in Masan. He also said that he would chat with Xavier Scruggs about it when he was around him next time.
It was really great getting a chance to talk with him and even better having him offer to help us out with some donations. For this, we at Team Jokbal would like to say, thank you very much for your kindness Mr. Manship. Guys like you, Mr. Hacker, and Mr. Scruggs are top notch and we couldn't do this without all of you! We wish all of you nothing but the best in this season and seasons to come and we are looking forward to catching up with you in Masan this weekend.
This post should pretty much get everything caught up with how things are progressing with player contributions. We will also keep people updated as items come in and with other news as it comes along.
If you missed it, here is a link to our first post about what Team Jokbal is working to do.
It all started with a photo taken in Japan during spring practice with the KIA Tigers. As soon as I saw that photo of Pat Dean wearing a Mario hat, I thought that he had to be a pretty cool guy.
With time and once again working our way around social media, we were able to get our message out to Mr. Dean about collecting items to be auctioned for charity. I suspect our gift of a red wig to accompany his Mario hat also made an outstanding impression
In the end Mr. Dean said that he would be more than happy to help out and send some stuff our way. As soon as we get some things I will be sure to come back with a post of the items to keep everyone updated.
From Team Jokbal, a huge thanks goes out to you Mr. Dean for your kindness to offer to help out! It's great guys like you that are making this possible!
If some of you are wondering more about Team Jokbal you can check out our first post explaining our mission.
Since we just got the blog up and running this week, I am going back and filling in some of the stuff about our Jokbal Campaign to raise money to buy sports equipment for kids. Now that most of you have hopefully read the first post explaining how Team Jokbal and the Jokbal Campaign came about, I am here to talk about some of the items that we have so far and pledges that we have from some KBO players.
The first person to donate to us was Michael Bowden, a pitcher for the Doosan Bears. On the weekend of April 22~23, me and a couple of other Team Jokbal members made our way out to SK Happy Dream Park (aka Munhak Stadium) to catch a couple of games of the SK Wyverns vs. Doosan Bears series. For a couple of months prior to this weekend we had been working social media and trying to get in touch with some of the KBO players to explain what we were doing and hopefully get some donations or game used gear to auction to raise funds for purchasing equipment for kids.
Finally, on April 23rd, the work paid off and we got our first item from Michael Bowden. As Michael was walking across the field, near the dugout, I let out a "What's up Big Mike?" He turned to me and happened to recognize me from previous social media posts and said "Are you the guy that's trying to get the jerseys for kids?" In a lot of joy, I said "that's us" and he told me to hold on for a minute. He made his way over to the Bears dugout and came back with one of his jerseys and handed it across the netting.
It was great and we were really excited to finally have some players realizing who we were and what we were working to do. I have been to many games and that will always be one of the most memorable games for me. That one and the night of Michael's no-hitter when I got so excited that I took the subway in the wrong direction and missed my bus home and had to stay at a motel for the night.
I have said it a few times before on my other blog and in person, but I will say it once again. Thanks, Mr. Bowden! You are a great guy with your heart in the right place. We couldn't achieve what we are working to achieve without players such as you!
A group of guys enjoying the KBO and raising money for orphanages.