One of my grand plans for this season had been to get to a few games featuring the Futures League teams in baseball’s second tier. It’s worked out reasonably well so far with me seeing Samsung Lions at Gyeongsan Ball Park, Lotte Giants at their Sangdong complex, LG at Champions Park and the independent team, Goyang Wonders, at the National Team Training Stadium.
This time, it was the turn of the Army team (Sangmu) and their game with Nexen Heroes at the Sangmu Stadium within the Army base near Bokjeong.
In a rare lesson learned I checked the starting time in advance and, sure enough, it had been shifted forward from one o’clock to eleven o’clock. Jen had worked out where I needed to be on Google Maps and it all seemed very simple. I had to take the subway to Bokjeong station on the Bundang line, leave at either of exits one or two and walk along the road between the exits for a couple of hundred yards. At that point I just had to bear left and four hundred yards or so later I’d be there.
Did it work like that? Of course not. The first bit did, I suppose, and I was able to leave Bokjeong subway as planned but my attempt to walk two hundred yards in the direction I wanted was thwarted by a combination of roadworks and a construction site.
No problem, I thought. I’ll just do it the other way around and walk four hundred yards away from the station before turning right and doing the necessary two hundred yards that way. Well, that started off ok too, but I made the error of crossing one road too many and I ended up trapped behind a forty foot high wall shielding a dual carriage way. Once again I retraced my steps. It was beginning to feel like I was in one of those computer games where you walk down corridors, nothing happens and so you walk down even more corridors until eventually some pixie appears with a magic key or something.
After a couple more false dawns I’d just about walked along every route in the area that I could have done. Finally I found the base gate where rather than a pixie with a magic key I was confronted by a soldier with a gun.
The guard’s English was better than my Korean but I was still reduced to miming a particularly crap baseball swing. If he’d given me a scythe and put me on gardening duty I couldn’t really have complained. The realisation that I was there to watch second tier baseball gave him sufficient cause for concern to warrant the checking of my details on his database of people who need keeping an eye on.
Once I’d been classified as ‘Sad but harmless’ the guard was happy to exchange my Alien Registration Card for a military base pass and then direct me towards the baseball park.
As a result of my arseing about trying to find the place I’d missed the first fifteen minutes. Still, it’s better than turning up at 1pm for a game that’s already two hours old, as I’ve done twice so far this season. They were into the second innings and there was no score.
I’ve no idea really if there were any stars turning out for the Army whilst undertaking their military service, nor if Nexen had any big names working their way back to fitness, I was happy just to sit there, wait for the big hits and eat cold pizza from the night before. There were probably about another thirty people watching and as usual most of them will have been friends or family of someone taking part.
The first score came in the sixth innings with a two run homer by a fella on the Army team. The ball landed in the nettles near me and I was able to point out the general area to a couple who were quite content to be stung in return for being able to retrieve it and take it home. Sangmu added a third run later in that innings but that was it and it finished up 3-0.
I traded my base pass for my Alien Registration Card on the way out and made my way home. As I’m a decent bloke and I’ve written less than I thought I would I’ll give you the directions that you need to get you there.
You come out of exit one of Bokjeong station. Follow the road for a couple of hundred yards until you reach a petrol station. Turn right without crossing the road and keep walking. After another couple of hundred yards or so you can see a baseball park behind the razor wire. Keep on for a bit further and you’ll reach a manned security point. When challenged by the guard, mime chopping down some long grass and you’ll be fine.