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!
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.
This is might be a big moment for Team Jokbal, maybe one we never really expected to happen. Something we aimed for but never really believed would happen. I still can't believe that it has happened.
In case you haven't heard yet, Team Jokbal has finally managed to collect items or received pledges from all KBO member teams.
The feat was finally achieved by a determined weekend of campaigning. On Saturday, an 8hour camp out at Jamsil stadium led to LG delivering their goods and a truly special item being donated by Michael Bowden and his Doosan team mates. (Read Andrew Dunham's soon to be published contribution about that day.) All I will say is that left us with 2 teams to go. Hanhwa and SK! Guess what? Those 2 were set to play each other the next day at the Happy Dream Park in Incheon.
Well fate is a beautiful thing. As luck had it, my fiancé (then my girlfriend), won 2 VIP tickets for that game earlier in the week. However, she knew nothing of my marriage proposal planned for Saturday night. So after a 10 hour stake out, a game, a marriage proposal and an engagement celebration that went on till 3am, Min and I headed to the Happy Dream Park.
Initially, the day seemed destined to end in disappointment. An underground VIP parking lot seemingly blocking any chance to talk to players. Not to be deterred, I bought some Cass and decided to explore. With beer as my guide, I managed to find the underground player entrance. but only to find out that all the players had arrived. Disaster!
But then, up popped the Hanhwa team bus and came an encounter with our No1 target, Wilin Rosario, the Hanhwa home run hitting machine.
Wilin is a big dude and a powerful hitter but nothing prepares you for just the softly spoken gentleman that he is... oh I forgot, he was recently caught reading a book in the middle of game that he was playing in. He immediately walked up to me and shook my hand and offered his help with our cause. Extremely nice guy! Success!
Despite the positive experience with Rosario, there was still a feeling of disappointment. Failure even. 1 team remained and I had failed, blown my chance. I felt that we would go in with a glaring omission from our work. Completeness was a requirement. No matter how much other players and teams had given us, the inability to get anything from SK felt like a real failure.
To celebrate the engagement news Blake Sibley and Rae Lanczak came and joined us to drink Maekguli before the game. Still on a huge high from the night before and with good friends I was quickly able to get over this disappointment. However, the maekguli may have fueled what happened next.
Something had to be done!
Luckily our VIP seats afforded us a chance. A long shot but enough of a chance. I was determined to take advantage. Their location made one last crack possible.
Struggling to see any other options, being reasonably drunk, I decided to take a risk. I took advantage of a change of security in the sixth inning stretch and ran to the edge of the dugout. I shouted and got the attention of Trey Hillman. He initially looked pissed that I dare bother him during a game. I don't blame him! I really didn't want to do things this way. It isn't the Team Jombal way! We try not to interrupt too much and let everybody get on with their job. However, in this case I saw no better option. I am sorry but I don't regret it! Hillman agreed to meet at the end of the game and it looked like the mission may finally be accomplished.
Coach Hillman kept his word, no matter the drunk jackass I appeared to be and he went into the locker room and fetched us a jersey and another box that he had signed. I was on the bus home when I realized that it was a bible. Yes! A signed bible! Definitely the most unusual item in our stockpile but still very much appreciated! Thanks Coach Hillman!
So now Team Jokbal has a pledge or has received some kind of item from every single team. As long as some players and teams keep their word, we will have succeeded. We aren't tempting fate yet but given how well things have gone, we are very optimistic of being able to raise a lot of money for good causes. We will continue to pick up what we can for our auction as that will raise us more money but for now it is great knowing that we have reached all teams. 1 more month of regular season to go, the collection grows
A few days prior to leaving for vacation Team Jokbal able to catch up with Pat Dean at Jamsil Stadium to make arrangements to get a few things from the KIA Tigers for the auction. While I was gone we ended up working out that a jokballer would be able to go down and grab some stuff while he attended a weekend series in Gwangju.
He was able to meet up with Pat, Roger, and Hector to get some awesome stuff. In the end we have a pair of signed cleats from all 3, a couple of signed hats from Pat, a couple of signed balls from Pat, and a signed bat from Roger. They are some great items and I'm sure they will help to raise a lot of money in December.
Honestly, it's great to meet these guys and work with them for charity. They have all been really cool and generous. We couldn't do what we are doing without them and it's great to be working with them to help out kids in South Korea.
Here is a look at the items that we got from the players
Thanks again, guys! You are all awesome and have really helped us out!
"Where are you? I can't see you." My friend Jong Hwan Hong shouted down the phone. "I am with Roger in the parking lot." Was my matter of fact response. "Who? I can't find you." he continued. "Come to the crowd in front of the main entrance. I'm with Bernadina. Give us 5 minutes."
At the time of the call, I really don't think that my friend believed where I was or who I was with. It was raining, the kind of rain that makes you think that God may have just ordered 2 of every animal onto a boat. The game had long since been called off and my friend was coming to pick me to go for a night out. He really didn't want to get out of the car. I don't blame him. Even if I was meeting the sensation that is Roger "The Shark" Bernadina, surely a quick selfie and signature would only take but a moment. Why would he want to stand in this pouring rain? Roger may even be gone by the time he reached me.
The truth is Roger, had spoken to me about the whole Team Jokbal campaign and felt that he could help. Much to my amazement, he told me to "Just wait 5 minutes. I'll be back."I was genuinely shocked since I was pretty sure that I appeared pretty inebriated. I was drunk. (Something to do with a family gathering under a bridge). Bernadina would have been well within his rights to have just ran away from my drunk ass. Thankfully, I had been able to flash a pair of Pat Dean's shoes that he had given to me earlier in the day. That seemed to have worked as some kind of secret handshake or show of good faith. The curious crowd that was amassing around the entrance was actually upset with me. Some felt that they had missed their chance to meet their hero. I explained in Korean and English that he would come back. The drunk foreigner was being cursed for sure!
I knew he would! Team Jokbal has seen him sign for so many fans so far this season. He is a true role model but some of the folks there didn't know him so well even if they had good cause to be suspicious of myself.
Almost exactly 5 minutes later, Roger reappeared with his arms full. By this time, Hong was calling again, wondering what was going on. He had made it to the back of the crowd. At that time, Roger had taken me behind the security cordon and presented me with a signed, prized bat aong with a pair of his own game worn shoes. He also had a nice bonus! He had managed to get league leading pitcher Hector Noesi to contribute to the campaign. So then we took our pictures together to affirm the authenticity of the items for the auction and we said our goodbyes. I emerged from the crowd, and finally ran into my buddy. A little annoyed by my delay and the fact that he had to get out into the rain, he then realized what had happened and we got into the car and went off to celebrate.
I knew he would! Team Jokbal has seen him sign for so many fans so far this season. He is a true role model but some of the folks there didn't know him so well even if they had good cause to be suspicious of myself.
KIA nor LG had been able to record a victory at Champions Field that day but Team Jokbal was a clear winner. Had there not been a rain delay, this haul may not have been possible. We would have got our much discussed package from Pat Dean (see previous jokbal blog contributions) but these were surprise additions. The purpose of the visit had been to meet with Pat and pick up some items that he had been saving for us. And it had been a pleasure to have met Pat again and the day had been all about him until the last 10 minutes. I had been asked to sign his autograph in return for a free taxi ride and I had been asked why was "Pat Dean drinking beer at 7.11 before a game." Korean people of Gwangju seem not to grasp that I am not Pat Dean and I look nothing like him! When I met Pat, he had managed to rustle up some game hats, signed balls and the pair of shoes that acted as the secret password with Hector and Bernadina.
Anyway, thanks to the KIA boys for adding to our growing collection! We know that their good work will definitely help to do some good! Oh and thanks to Hong for waiting... I hope you understand!
We were recently in touch with Xavier Scruggs of the NC Dinos. After sending him a message about what we are doing at Team Jokbal, he said that he is more than happy to help us out in any way possible. We had an opportunity to run him through the details of what we are looking to collect from players for the charity auction and he told me to just keep him posted on when we are able to make a trip out to see the Dinos again and he will be happy to hook us up with some of his stuff. With that being said, it looks like there will be another journey to Masan once everyone has finished off their summer travels. We are really looking forward to getting a chance to catch up with Xavier in person. While connecting with people via message is great, it's always great to catch up with them in person to be able to put names with faces, share a few stories, and show our appreciation to players such as him.
What more can I say about Xavier other than he is a great guy that cares about giving back to the communities in Korea. We there is one more thing that I can say, him and his wife Jessica are loving Korea and they have a pretty awesome Youtube Channel called "Humble Abroad." You can check it out here:
Remember to check back often as we keep all of you updated on who we have been able to catch up with and what new items we have for the auction.
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.
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!
A group of guys enjoying the KBO and raising money for orphanages.