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!
There are some fans out there that see some weird looking foreigners holding up signs with Team Jokbal (팀족발) written on them or walking around wearing jerseys that have things such as 두산족발 (Doosan Jokbal), 기아족발 (KIA Jokbal), KT족발 (KT Jokbal), and 팀족발 (Team Jokbal) written on them. There is also one that wears colorful wigs to the games, primarily green ones. Sorry, that was a bit of a shout out to me as the green wig wearer.
There are a lot of laughs, smiles, and stares and it's honestly a great thing. It is serving the purpose of making people happy and providing a bit of quirky amusement at games. It's not that KBO games really need to be any more exciting or fun because they are already great, but at least we are doing our part to bring a little more joy to the stands.
Now comes a question that many are probably wondering. Where does the idea of Team Jokbal actually come from? Last year there was a bit of a joke going around within our group about what some of the KBO players might eat after a game to celebrate a big win or a well played game. For some reason we could just imagine players sitting around a table scarfing down big platters of jokbal (pig's feet) and having a few glasses of beer or soju. Why jokbal? To be honest, the better question is why not jokbal? It's a great Korean dish that seems to be highly underrated among foreigners and it's simply delicious.
As a result we decided it would be amusing to get custom jerseys made with jokbal written on the backs. After all, getting custom jerseys done in Korea is pretty easy and very common among the fans. You will see everything from couples wearing jerseys that highlight their relationship status to others wearing custom jerseys that pay homage to their favorite players.
Now on to the most important question about Team Jokbal and the driving factor behind its existence. Does Team Jokbal serve any purpose other than being fun? What most don't know, beyond the comical factor, is that it also serves another purpose. After a friend and fellow Team Jokbal member came across an article about Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos giving away a shirt in exchange for a tray of pork, we thought that we could probably swing something in similar fashion in Korea with jokbal and the KBO. The result has been us offering to give players a plate of Jokbal in exchange for game used jerseys, hats, bats, helmets, etc.
You may now be wondering "what will Team Jokbal be doing with these items that they collect?" While we are fans and collectors that would love to keep these items to add to our personal sports collections, we decided that we could use these items to bring even more joy and fun to others. This lead us to deciding to offer these items for auction in the winter at a fan charity auction and use the proceeds to purchase sports equipment for students in poor areas and orphanages around South Korea.
In the short time since deciding to pursue this cause, we have managed to make some connections with some players (Michael Bowden, Pat Dean, and Jeff Manship) that have already donated or will donate and they have also started spreading the message to other players. The KBO is full of a bunch of great guys and I am happy that we are getting to work with some of them to get equipment for kids because we have seen and experienced the joy and benefits that sports can bring to young people. Hopefully with continued work and contributions we can help fill a void by purchasing and donating equipment so that kids get a chance to play a game of catch or hit their first home run. Who knows? They may be future KBOers themselves. At the very least it will provide some healthy fun and memories for them.
Check back often as we will begin to post some of the stories and items here in the future. Thanks for reading and the support!
A group of guys enjoying the KBO and raising money for orphanages.