On July 5th, California was on the news for a number of reasons, most notoriously an earthquake of 7.1 magnitude. Many of my friends and family, who were in Seoul reading about the Ridgecrest earthquakes, frantically texted me, worried that I had felt terror, or worse, suffered injuries. But I had no idea that an earthquake had even occurred because I was at the Dodgers Stadium--the vibrations at the Dodger Stadium were not from the earthquake but from the excitement and cheers of the thousands of baseball fanatics.
Although I’ve been to myriad Korean baseball games since I was a child, it was my first time ever going to an American baseball game. Almost immediately, I was able to see how different the baseball fan cultures of different countries were.
|[Photo of the author at the stadium before the game began (Photo courtesy of Rachel Lee)]|
Most notably, I realized how unique Korean baseball jingles were. At every Korean baseball game, the stadium plays a short song, distinct in lyric and melody, for each player plays as he enters the baseball field. I’ve always loved this part of the game, as it makes the stadium environment more energetic and exciting. However, at the Dodgers game, there were only scattered claps and shouts of support when a player was announced, which felt a lot less endearing.
|[Photo of the entrance at the stadium as tickets are scanned by security officials
(Photo courtesy of Rachel Lee)]
In addition, I also noticed that the concession stands and food provided at the stadiums differed greatly in Korea versus the U.S. To be honest, I’m not the most knowledgeable about the sport itself, so 90% of the reason I go to baseball games back in Seoul is to eat fried chicken and have fun with friends. But in California, most people ate hot dogs, which I knew as a popular ballpark food, but also obsessively ate peanuts. I felt surprised and a bit uncomfortable when the lady sitting next to me threw peanut shells on the ground, but later found out that peanuts have been a staple at baseball games ever since the sport became popular in the 20th century. Peanut shells on the floor turned out to be a time-honored tradition.
However, the biggest difference I noticed was that, whereas Koreans baseball games tend to focus more on the sport itself, American baseball games incorporated more fan events and activities into the game. For example, they incorporated interviews with fans outside the stadium to win free merchandise by successfully answering a trivia question. I was awestruck at how knowledgeable American baseball fans were in the history of the game. Baseball for Americans was an institution, as well as a game and an entertainment.
|[Photo of the Dodgers baseball field mid-game (Photo courtesy of Rachel Lee)]|
Overall, I felt that going to a Dodgers game this summer was an essential part of fully experiencing what Los Angeles has to offer as a city. Although I experienced a bit of culture shock as it was so different from what I was used to when watching a Doosan Bears game at the Jamsil stadium, I would urge tourists visiting Southern California to go to a Dodgers game if they want to experience an unadulterated Americana.
Seoul International School
Rachel Lee firstname.lastname@example.org
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