Team Jokbal had another big day out, Saturday, August 26. Over the past weekend, Team Jokal was finally able to meet up with a few of the great guys playing for the LG Twins! After a bit of communication with Henry Sosa, and an early morning by George and Tony, we were able to meet up with him outside Jamsil Stadium before Saturday's game with the Doosan Bears. Sporting our Doosan regalia (sorry Henry) we were able to talk about our mission with him. Henry, being a great guy, immediately jumped in to help, coming back to us not 20 minutes later with some great items we will be excited to show off and sell for the kids come December
Henry Sosa, born in the Dominican Republic, was originally signed as a free agent to the San Francisco Giants in 2004, but made his MLB debut with the Houston Astros in 2011, playing for them until he made is journey to the KBO in 2012. This will be Henry Sosa's fifth year playing in the KBO, previously playing for both the Kia Tigers and the Nexen Heroes respectively.
We were able to attain from Henry, two Twins player warm-ups, one autographed and belonging to Sosa himself and the other from Korean outfielder 채은성 (Chea Eun-Sung). But the the most exciting item has to be a Sosa autographed LG Twins jacket (see below)! It was wonderful meeting with Henry over the weekend. Team Jokbal thanks him for his contribution, he is not only a great player, but a class act man as well
However, a Jokballers job is never done! Later that day we were also able to meet up with Sosa's teammate, fellow LG pitcher David Huff! Although we were unable to procure a contribution that day, we are confident David will come through for us, judging by his openness and excitement for the cause. We look forward to meeting up with Huff at a later date.
But wait there is more! The one and only Micheal Bowden came through for us once again. For a quick recap, Micheal was our very first contributor and we are so grateful to him for all his help. (See George's previous post on Micheal for more). This time, Micheal was able to come through big for us with an almost full Doosan Bears roster (which includes every starter) signed print of Jamsil Stadium painted by friend of Team Jokbal Andy Brown. Andy has done some other great work including more baseball stadiums around Korea. Check him out at andybrownisanartist.com.
The rest of the team and I had a great and fruitful weekend, it is a pleasure meeting such open and great players all willing to help out. But above all, it is just nice to give back to those less fortunate and help out a community whom would otherwise never be able to experience the great sport of baseball. 팀족발 화이팅!
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!
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.
A group of guys enjoying the KBO and raising money for orphanages.