As action heats up in the KBO with teams trying to maintain their leads or jump ahead of others before the end of the regular season, the action for Team Jokbal has also heated up and with it comes some more stories of kindness (and humor) on the part of players and teams. At the start of the year we had an idea in mind of what we wanted to do, but we never expected it to go as far as it has. The only way that it has gotten this far is from the kindness of players and teams.
Yesterday I woke up at 6 am and started my trip to Suwon kt Wiz park to catch up with the Wiz crew and Lotte Giants crew. While sitting and waiting on the Wiz guys (Donn Roach, Ryan Feierabend, and Mel Rojas Jr.) some great things started to happen. We were greeting players as they came by and getting the occasional smile from the other fans that were there waiting. Around 9 or 9:30 Donn was the first to appear and while chatting with him Ryan also came in. We stood and had a nice conversation about how everything had been going with collecting the items (both guys were already aware of everything and we had previously spoken with Donn). They both kindly said they would go inside and grab some things and bring them back out. A few minutes later they reappeared with some awesome stuff which included one of Donn's jerseys, his warmup, one of Ryan's hats, and Yoon Suk-min's kt Wiz travel bag.
We chatted a bit more and snapped a few pictures and they headed back inside. Shortly after, Yoo Han-joon came walking by and we stopped him to show him what we were doing and he kindly and in perfect English might I add said that he would go take a look and see if he had anything for us. I told him that we would just be sitting around just outside if he had anything to give.
Not long afterward another very kind young Korean guy comes out of the locker room with some items. This guy was James. I figured he was just being kind (which he is very kind) and telling me his English name to make me feel comfortable. I wasn't aware of who he was at the time, but since there are a lot of young players that I am unfamiliar with I thought he was one of them. He said he had been in the locker room with Donn and the other guys and there was some mention about what we were doing and he wanted to bring some things out for us. He brought our a couple of pairs of batting gloves and a t-shirt. We talked for a while and he was really happy to help out and happy to hear the story about what we were doing to help out kids at orphanages. His English was excellent, but I didn't really think much of it because I have run across more than a few Korean players that speak English really well, so once again I just thought he was one of the young Wiz players that I was unfamiliar with. I asked him to sign the things he brought out and we snapped a picture and he went back inside.
While waiting on Mel to come through, I took a bit of time to try to identify James based on his photo and his signature, but I wasn't having much luck. I wasn't too worried though because I knew that I would eventually identify him and before I knew it Mel had appeared and stopped off for a chat. He said that he would check is locker and get some stuff back out to us a bit later. After that we continued to hang around and wait just in case anyone else came back out with things.
Right around 11:30 we made our way over toward the Lotte bus arrival area to catch up with Josh Lindblom, but just before we got there all of the buses had parked and all of the players were inside. We back and grabbed the Wiz items that we had collected and took them over to put them in the car. On the way back through we were able to catch the attention of Josh on the field and he came over and said that he had the Lotte Giants helmet that we sent to him signed and in the dugout. We headed on inside the stadium to catch up with him and grab the helmet.
After getting inside, we headed over to Josh and he asked us to go over and meet him by the dugout to grab the helmet. However, that didn't quite work as planned since security stopped us and wouldn't let us down near the field. Even after Josh reappeared with the helmet and was trying to tell them to let us down to get it, they denied our entry. Not a cool move by them, but we have become used to the security run-ins and Josh asked us to just meet him over at the bullpen. We walked over and he passed us the helmet and we were having a bit of a chat when security tried to intervene once again. At that point we just ignored the security and told them that Josh knows us and he is helping us out. After all, it's kind of hard for security to tell a player that they can't talk with fans. We were able to express our gratitude to Josh and our happiness that he is back in the KBO with his daughter doing well. He is a great guy and he said he would try to round up some more things for us at a later date.
After all of that was settled our job for the day was mostly done and we took the helmet to the car and came back to watch the game. During the game, still puzzled over the mysterious James, who we thought may have been Jung Hyun (#7) or possibly the Wiz interpreter, we had a great time cheering along and telling stories. We were also sure to cheer on Jung Hyun (as James) every time he came to the plate.
After the game we headed out to catch Mel to grab the items from him and hopefully answer the question of "who is James?" After a bit of a wait we saw Donn come out and then Mel. Mel brought us out one of his hats and a warmup and was immediately surrounded by fans. He passed the items off to us and stood there signing for all of them. He's a really great guy and he loves and takes care of the fans. They also really love him.
Meanwhile I slipped over to Donn while he was also signing for a huge group of fans to get to the bottom of the James situation. I showed him the photo and he said James is their interpreter, to which us Jokballers had a big laugh because we were so confused about who he was.
At the end of the day, we had a great time and got some great items for the auction. The kindness of players (and interpreters) such as Donn, Mel, Ryan, James and Josh always inspires us to try harder for the kids. These guys are great and nothing that Team Jokbal is doing would be possible without their support. They have all been very kind and welcoming and we can't wait for the auction so that we can show how their donations have helped kids in South Korea. It's gonna be a great event and it's all possible because of you guys! Thanks for helping out!
Another Dino joins Team Jokbal This past Saturday 09-02-17 Team Jokbal made the trip to Masan Baseball Stadium for the second addition to the charity from an NC Dino. This contribution came to us from Xavier Scruggs. It was great to finally catch up with Xavier after originally contacting him about what we are trying to do. We got a chance to meet with Xavier after the game down next to the dugout. Although he did not play in the game that night he was still able to take the time and meet us which were great.
We were able to meet and have a quick conversation with Xavier and after I could not speak more highly about him as a humble and down to earth guy. He graciously was able to give us two of his pro model bats one that was game used the other not and also he gave of a pair of his own used batting gloves. All of the items that he contributed he signed for us right there in person next to the dugout.
It is great to see another contribution come Team Jokbal’s way from the Dinos. This charity would be nothing without the players and their contributions and we are eternally grateful.
Check back often for more updates from Team Jokbal.
Team Jokbal was fortunate enough to be able to go to the Doosan Bears vs. KT Wiz game last night (July 5, 2017) and catch up with Michael Bowden for a few minutes before the start of the game. I was meeting him to get him to sign the jersey that he had previously given to us for the auction and to get a Jamsil Stadium print signed by some players for the auction. To my surprise, he came out to meet me with a signed Dustin Nippert jersey. He let me know that Dustin was more than happy to help out by contributing.
Dustin is well known within the community for helping out kids and he even provides tickets to groups of kids to come to the games once a month. A truly great and generous guy that does all that he can to help the community and the kids.
In addition to getting the signed Nippert jersey, I was able to talk a little more with him about what Team Jokbal is working to do and get him to sign his jersey. I was also able to get the print of Jamsil Stadium, done by my friend Andy, into his hands to get some players to sign it. I will be picking the print up from him at a later date. Once it is signed, I will also be posting about it.
Players like Dustin and Michael are the reason that we can do what we are doing and we are honored to be able to work with such great guys! Thanks guys!
Check back often for more updates from Team Jokbal.
It was another great weekend for the Team Jokbal crew at Jamsil Stadium. We went to the Friday night game between the LG Twins and KIA Tigers, but unfortunately we were not able to meet or talk with any of the players that night because of our late arrival. However, on Saturday we made our way over to the stadium earlier in the day to start our Jokbal campaign by handing out some of our mission statements to players and it was a great success. We managed to get our mission statements into the hands of about 10 or 15 players that morning. We greeted them and gave them papers and they proceeded on their way toward the entrance while they read them.
However, the highlight of the day was getting a chance to speak with Henry Sosa for a few minutes upon his arrival to the stadium. We saw Sosa walking toward the player entrance with a couple of his friends and headed over toward him. Korean fans were also headed over toward him for autographs and photos so we just stood back while he signed and took photos with them. As soon as he was finished he headed over to have a chat with us and I must say it was great meeting him that day and he's a truly awesome guy! We gave him a paper and told him that we were working to collect jerseys and such from players to place in the kids charity auction at the end of the year and without hesitation he said that he would love to help us out and get some things for us. He also asked us if we needed help with getting tickets or anything that day, but we already had plans for that evening and were going to be unavailable for the game so he told us to just get in touch with him when we would be around and he would get some things for us.
Even though we were unable to see the game that day, it was a very successful day and we got to meet another great guy, Henry Sosa. The guys of the KBO, such as Sosa, are absolutely wonderful and it's great to be able to work with them. Without them helping us out, we would be unable to help raise money for the kids. Sosa and these other players are the true MVPs and we would like to send out a big THANK YOU to all of them!
As always, continue to check back often and we will keep everyone updated on what's going on with the Team Jokbal crew.
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.
A group of guys enjoying the KBO and raising money for orphanages.