After missing out on the baseball game in Chuncheon earlier in the day I decided that when we got back to Seoul I would pop along to Jamsil Stadium for the visit of Lotte Giants. Lotte always bring a lot of fans with them, probably because there are plenty of ex-Busan residents now living or working in Seoul, and so it is usually a decent occasion.
I was at the box office a good fifteen minutes before the start and all that were left in the main stand were a few single seats in the blue section close to the action. I thought, as usual, that I would take my chance in the outfield section instead. As expected, it was packed and I wandered around for a good five minutes before a bloke begrudgingly moved his can of beer from the seat next to him so that I could sit down.
The starting pitcher for Doosan was Yang Hyeon. He has only just turned nineteen and has a really odd throwing action, releasing the ball from very low down, not far above the ground. He started well enough though with his first five pitches being either strikes or resulting in someone being caught out.
Jang Won Jun started for Lotte and he did even better, conceding just three hits and one run in the six innings that he was on the field for.
In the third innings Lotte outfielder Son Ah Seop hit a home run that scored two to put the visitors into the lead. Doosan pitcher Yang Hyeon didn’t last much longer after that, getting the tap on the shoulder at the end of the third. He had just been struck on the ankle with the ball though so that may have played some part in the decision. His replacement threw a lot more conventionally.
There were still lots of people coming into the stadium at that time even though play had been underway for an hour. As so many of the seats were ‘reserved for a friend who hadn’t yet arrived’ very few of the latecomers seemed to be finding seats. Most chose to stand at the back whilst others sat in the aisles. One old biddie was made of sterner stuff than most and she insisted that people picked up their bags and moved along. She and her husband had been sat on tiny camping stools in the aisle until she had decided enough was enough.
It was good to see the stadium full for a change as it meant the return of the blokes who sell beer from the big packs on their backs. There was also someone selling bottles of soju from a carrier bag.
I decided to skip the soju and draft beer and nipped downstairs to pick up a few cans at the end of the fourth. On the way back I was almost hit by a Lotte home run. As I stood facing away from the pitch at the bottom of the steps on the way back to my seat, I saw the people around me either flinching or putting their hands up to catch the ball. I turned, but couldn’t pick up the flight and could do nothing more than put my free hand over my head and hope the ball didn’t knock my teeth out. It didnt. 3-0 Lotte.
The orange supermarket bags made an appearance in the fifth innings with most of the Lotte fans taking part and wearing them on their heads. One kid didn’t seem to get the hang of it and despite his Mam being sat next to him he just put his head inside it and tied it tighter than a Tory MP with an orange in his mouth would.
Doosan had a chance to get back into the game in the fifth when Lotte deliberately walked Choi Joon Seok leaving batters on all three bases. The tactic paid off though with them all left stranded when they got the next bloke, Son Si Hyun, out without much difficulty
Lotte increased their lead in the seventh with a solo home run that once again landed not too far from me, before Doosan finally opened their account to make it 4-1. The game seemed over though and the visiting fans were enjoying themselves with Mexican Waves.
Both sides scored a couple of runs apiece in the eighth to take it to 6-3 and that was how it eventually finished. The result didn’t matter much to Doosan Bears, but it was a valuable win for Lotte Giants as they try to secure second place in the standings.