Sunday, September 4, 2016

The Doosan Bears vs. The Samsung Lions.

Pre-game selfie :-)

By the time we got into the taxi to go from Noryanjin Fish Market to Jamsil Stadium, I was wide awake and thank God for that because of all the things I was looking forward to doing while we were in Seoul, it was to attend a baseball game at Jamsil Stadium. Baseball is huge in Korea and from what I had read, the games are a fun experience.  I had tried to buy tickets online before leaving home but apparently, you need a Korean ID to do that.  I even tried to use Chase Sapphire concierge services to see if they could buy the tickets but no luck.

Before leaving for Seoul, I checked the play schedule for the Korean Baseball League and there was a 2pm game scheduled for today - between the hometown Doosan Bears and the Samsung Lions.  Obviously, we didn't have tickets so our only option was to show up at the ticket booth in advance and hope that we could buy a pair.  Neither George nor I wanted to miss the game so we made sure we arrived at the stadium with plenty of time to spare.

From Noryangjin to Jamsil Stadium, it was probably about a 20 minute or so drive.  It wasn't hard to miss the building - looks like a US sports arena albeit the complex was slightly smaller than a typical baseball venue in the US.



The food vendors were lined up outside and some were selling items that are uniquely Korean.   You would never see octopus, prepared in any manner, sold in a US game park :-)


We were both relieved to see the ticket booth was open and kept our fingers crossed that the game was not sold out. I would be happy to just get a seat.   I let George do the ticket buying duties.


It was nice to see that baseball is very much a family event here.  Lots of folks wearing Bears jerseys in support of the home town team.


Of course, there were a few Lions fans as well.  The Lions hometown is Daeju, located in the southeastern part of the country.


When I saw George whip out his credit card, I knew we had gotten seats.  Woohoo!!


We were in Section 211, row 10, seats 86 and 87.


We had no idea if those were good seats or not but I'm just glad we got seats.  I would've have been so disappointed if we had come all this way and not been able to see the game.


We had about an hour before the start of the game which meant plenty of time to check out the stadium store.  The place was small and packed to the brim.  George wanted to get a t-shirt and while he's not a big guy by American standards he's XXL by Korean standards.  Too funny!  Hope he doesn't read this post - he'll kill me for that comment. :-)


It took a few tries but he found a shirt he liked.  He's now a Doosan Bear.


We had walk around the stadium to get to the entrance to our section of seats.  All along the way were fast food vendors.  Some with names familiar to anyone from the US.



It was a bit challenging finding the entrance - it wasn't at ground level.  We actually had to take a ramp up to the 2nd level.



As we entered, we were handed a plastic booklet.  On the front cover was the design of a Bears jersey.


On the back cover was the team.  Far fewer players than you would find on a US baseball team roster.


Inside the booklet was a magnet along with a card touting 8 years of more than a million fans in attendance each year.  Nice souvenir.


With the help of the seat attendants, we found our spots.  Not bad seats if you ask me though I have no idea nor does George, of exactly how much we paid for the seats.  He'll have to check his credit card statement.

Pre-game selfie.

We weren't sitting under the overhang and the sun was blazing.  Thankfully, clouds were quickly moving into  place.  As long as it doesn't pour cats and dogs, we would be okay.


Just to our left there were two sections of colored seats.  I was guessing these were reserved for either VIPS or the press as the stadium did not have any box seats.


The photogs were set up and ready to go.


To our left was the main section of seats for the Bears fans.  We were bit on the periphery of all things Bear.


The Lions fans were relegated to their own section.  I wonder if when you buy your tickets, you tell them your team allegiance and you're seated accordingly?


As we waited, the beer guy came around.  Draft beer on tap for George.



We chatted while we watch the grounds keep get field ready for play.  For some reason, the field looked small to me but when we Googled the size of a US baseball field, this one fit right in.  The stands are definitely smaller though.

 Slowly, the seats began to fill up but at the rate it was going, it was likely that it would not be a full stadium.


When the grounds were ready for play, the Lions came out to practice a few throws and catches.


Then the hometown Bears made their way on to the field as well.




The game began with the playing of the Korean National Anthem.  Everyone stood up in respect while the starting lineup was presented on the large screen.



There was the coin toss and the Lions were the first at bat.


The enthusiastic Lions fans cheered on the players - there's some singing.  The Lions fans kicked off their song program with the chorus of "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye".


There's some chanting too.  The fans here love their plastic air filled tubes.  The fans are loud and noisy but it's all done in fun.  What's amazing is that while the Lions fans are cheering, the Bears fans are quiet - they are not trying to out cheer the Lions fans or boo them.  Very respectful and good sportsmanship.


Beer break for George.


Bottom of the first.  It was time for the Doosan Bears and their fans to kick into action.  Go Bears!!  I had to root for the hometown team. :-)



The second player at bat was the only non-Korean player.  Before becoming a Doosan Bear, Dustin Nippert previously played for the Arizona Diamondbacks and Texas Rangers of Major League Baseball.


The next player brought in the game's first home run.



Each team has their own mascot, cheer master and squad of cheerleaders to get the fans going.




Each team has a program of songs and dance and every fan knows the words and hand gestures to go with each one.  In some ways, I had more fun watching the fans than watching the game!

The Doosan Bears fans kicked off their song program with "Volare" though I don't know that they sung the same lyrics.


Each team's fans has their unique ways of showing support for their team. One is to hold up the jersey of your favorite player.  The cute boy sitting next to me held up the jersey for #37, Park Kun Woo when Woo came up to bat.



It was a lucky charm indeed for #37 because he hit a home run!!

The young boy had arrived with his father just a few minutes before the start of the game.  Once son was in place, Dad left and soon came back with some fried chicken and two of the air filled plastic rods for his son.  It was nice to see Dad spending quality time with his son. This ever so cute boy, with his adorable dimples, knew every song, cheer and hand gesture.  A true Bears fan and very likely a lifelong fan!


Players, cheerleaders, fans.....it was so much fun watching them all.  Everyone was having a great time!




Ever so thoughtful George was concerned that I would fade into exhaustion once again and since we had one more destination to go to before we could call it a day, he offered that we only stay for a few innings. I gratefully took him up on the offer even though I really wanted to stay on - especially because we left when the score was tied.  The Lions managed to get three runs in one inning alone!!  When it was all over the final score was Bears 7, Lions 5.

We're off for a view!