Team Jokbal has been unable to make a trip down to Sajik in Busan to catch Lotte on their home turf this year. We have tried several times to make our way down there (5 hour one-way trip for most of us) this season but weather and unforeseen scheduling conflicts always left us hanging out to dry.
The Lotte Helmet
Last Sunday (09/09/2017), we were finally able to take possession of a Lotte Giants helmet, but with a few modifications. Once a shiny, new, unremarkable black baseball helmet bearing the Lotte Giants emblem, it had been transformed into a masterpiece bearing brilliant white signatures of Giants stars and living legends. It's a beauty and sure to bring some serious coin at the charity auction. Bearing the signatures of Korean players such as Lee Dae-ho, Kang Min-ho, Choi Jun-seok, Son Ah-seop and Son Seung-lak, the helmet has come to life. However, the helmet doesn't just have Korean players. It also bears the signatures of Josh Lindblom, a great guy and great pitcher, and Andy Burns, a star player that joined Lotte this season.
The Josh Lindblom Story
Now back to the story and how this masterpiece came into being. After experiencing the setbacks earlier in the season during our attempts to make a trip to Sajik, Team Jokbal began to wonder if their glorious drive to collect items from all teams for the charity auction would come up dry. We are not a group that gives up easily, nor are we a group that wants to let down the orphanages that we will be donating to this winter so we took matters into our own hands and got into contact with Lotte Giant pitcher, Josh Lindblom, and posted a blank Lotte Giants helmet to him.
Josh, a guy with a heart of gold and a great pitching arm, had rejoined the Giants at the end of July after having to leave them earlier in the year due to health issues with his daughter. After taking care of matters back in the States and with his daughter's health improving, Josh was able to come back to Lotte after the release of his replacement Nick Additon.
Back to the Helmet and setbacks
But once again, I digress so let's get back to the helmet and story. After posting the helmet to Josh, I was able to contact him again and let him know that Team Jokbal would be making their way to Suwon Stadium to catch a game between the Giants and the Wiz and we would be more than happy to meet him there and pick up the helmet at the game. With sleep still in ours eyes, we made early departures from our homes to go to Suwon Stadium to collect the helmet, as well as some promised items from kt Wiz players. We were able to easily catch the Wiz guys and pick up some great items from them. However, the Lotte setbacks began again.
Setback #1 and overcoming
On our way over to the bus area to catch Josh upon arrival, we were just a bit late and ended up missing the players exiting the buses. Feeling a bit down for not catching them upon arrival, we didn't give up because we were sure that we would be able to catch him inside the stadium. We also know the kind of guy that Josh is so we were sure that he would come through inside the stadium. After deciding that it was time to pack it in and head into the stadium, we went over to the car to put the kt Wiz items away. While walking by the outfield gate we saw Josh in the outfield talking with players. We continued on to the car and came back in hope of catching him there. Upon our return to the gate, Josh spotted us and came over for a brief chat and to sign for fans. We shook hands, thanked him for his kindness, and arranged to meet him inside the stadium.
The Security, Setback #2, & overcoming
We headed into the stadium and went over to the area where he was standing and he asked us to make our way over to the "exciting zone" area next to the dugout so that he could pass the helmet to us. We headed over to the area where he asked to meet and were immediately held up by security. They told us that we couldn't enter the area because our tickets were not for that area. We kept reassuring them that it was okay and we were only going there for a couple of minutes to catch Josh, whom we know, and then we would return to our seats. They keep reassuring us with the "no" and arms crossed in an "x" that we would not get there.
A few seconds later Josh reappeared from the dugout with the helmet and we were still dealing with security. We pointed to him and told them to look and see that he was bringing a helmet to us and that we were just going to pick it up and come back out. Josh even got in on the action motioning and asking for them to let us down, but they were having none of it and continued with their string of "no." Then Josh told us to just meet him over at the bullpen and grab it there.
We made our way back over to the bullpen area and were met by security once again. They were asking us to move away from the rail and bullpen and return to our seats. At this point we just had to ignore them and tell them no and that we were meeting our friend Josh to collect a helmet from him. It also helped that we were standing face to face with Josh and talking with him by this point. We had a bit longer chat at this point and once again thanked him for his kindness. Before leaving him and returning to our seats, he also said that he would get some more things together at the end of the season and get them to us for the auction.
Nothing stops Team Jokbal & Josh Lindblom
While we once again experienced some minor delays due to security (it's happened on several occasions), we had accomplished what we had set out to accomplish when leaving our homes at 6:30 am. We had possession of the Lotte Helmet and it's all thanks to a wonderful guy named Josh Lindblom. He's a great guy with a big heart and we are happy that he was able to help us out. If you would like more information about Josh and to see how he helps others, be sure to take a look at his non-profit, The Josh Lindblom Foundation, at the following:
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!
A group of guys enjoying the KBO and raising money for orphanages.