Baseball season may be over for the year, but as usual I was a late-comer to the game and only caught the last match of the season. However, the Major League Baseball is a big, BIG deal here. Both for natives and expats alike.
I guess I shouldn’t find this surprising given the huge American influence here and the penchant of other Asian nations for the National Pastime (albeit national in reference to the US). Given that I had previously gone to a baseball game in the States, GOOOOOO RAAAAYS, I thought I knew what I was in for. As with most things here in Korea though, I can honestly say I was not aware of quite what I was in for.
In fact, I may have been lured into going by the promises of fried chicken and some cool cool Pepsi (seeing as beer would have my insides upside-down, and probably my outsides down-side up) as my interest in 3 hours of rounders is negligible. Therefore, I had very little clue of what to expect.
After paying about €9 into the stadium we found a place in the stands, or the bleachers depending on who I’m talking to, and settled in. Not too close and not too far from the action. That said, we weren’t in prime seats by any means because those can set one back a pretty penny, and being the thrifty individuals we are, we weren’t fussed about being right behind the batter. Although I may have seen more actual baseball had we sat there, still, I have my doubts about that too though.
So what was so surprising about the game?
Well firstly, the role of music in the play of events. Every time a player went in or out (very technical baseball terms here), there was a new tune specific to the player. This I vaguely remember from that scorching hot day in Tampa as it was one of the redeeming factors for having me sitting in the sun like a tub of rapidly souring milk. Not only are the songs a bit of lively entertainment but they also allow us to hear some iconic 80s numbers lovingly transmogrified into Korean masterstrokes. Even the team jingles would put you in mind of the 80s rock anthems, in particular the Lotte Giants’ (our erstwhile team) number which cracked me up almost every time. In between bites of deliciously greasy fried chicken that is.Secondly, and most importantly was the shock of seeing the orange trash bags be distributed throughout the crowd. Not only were these bags accepted willingly, oh no, but almost fought over as they rapidly become a highly important piece of baseball attire in the form of a hat. These bags were hot property and only the most driven among us managed to wrangle one, wrestle it into submission and then affix it to our heads.
Once the hats had seen their time, and tried to tear our ears off (thanks to the fact that the handles holding it in place being looped over our ears), it was time to pack the remains of the days revelry into the bags and move on out.
Overall, baseball is a great way to spend a relatively cheap and wholly entertaining afternoon. So next season it’s Lotte Giants vs. The World and I’ll be there front and center roaring the chants and rubbing shoulders with the other hoards of rabid baseball fans thronging the bleachers! Although, admittedly this is likely to only occur once or twice, weekends are busy times my friends.
So there we have it, baseball in Korea. I have but one question: Have you seen my baseball?