February 19, 2010

Korea Baseball Organization: the 8 teams, with teams’ parent corporations listed, and baseball stadium photos.

Filed under: Korea: baseball — admin @ 12:55 pm


From Reuters, October 27, 2009, ‘South Korean series a corporate playground’, {click here}

From the JoongAng Daily site, August 4, 2009, ‘Korea’s love affair with baseball stronger than ever’, {click here} .

The Korean Baseball Organization was established in 1982, and began with 6 teams. There are now 8 teams in the league. The KBO has seen a surge in popularity in the last couple of seasons, and in 2009 the league had it’s highest-ever attendance numbers. The 2009 Korean Series was won by South Korea’s most successful baseball club, the Kia Tigers. The Kia Tigers have won 10 of the 29 Korean Series titles that the KBO has played. The Tigers are from Gwangju, which is in the south-west of the Korean peninsula, and is the 6th largest city in South Korea, with a population {2006} of 1.4 million. The Tigers, like all teams in the KBO, are not named after their home-city but after their parent corporation, in this case, the automobile manufacturer Kia Motors. Kia Motors bought the Tigers ball club from the Hatai Corporation in 2001.
Last year, the Kia Tigers were powered by both of their allowed two foreign players. One was pitcher Rick Guttormson (USA-born, and a former NPB player who threw a no-hitter for the Yakult Swallows in 2006), who went 13-4, with a 3.24 ERA. The other was 2009 wins and innings-pitched leader Aquilano Lopez (Dominican Republic-born, and a former Detroit Tigers player), who went 14-5, with a 3.12 ERA. Offensively, the Tigers relied on former Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Hee-seop Choi, who hit .302 with 32 home runs.

For the 2009 regular season, the Korea Baseball organization had a cumulative average attendance of 11,138 per game.

2009 KBO teams’ home average attendance-
Lotte Giants (Busan)- 20,597 per game.
Doosan Bears (Seoul)- 15,731 per game.
LG Twins (Seoul)- 14,778 per game.
SK Wyverns (Inchon)- 12,556 per game.
Kia Tigers (Gwangju)- 8,314 per game.
Samsung Lions (Daegu)- 5,782 per game.
Hanwha Eagles (Daejon)- 5,691 per game.
Heroes [now called Nexen Heroes] (Seoul)- 4,996 per game.

As you can see, South Korea’s second-largest city, Busan (population, 3.5 million {2008}) has the ball club with the biggest fan base, the Lotte Giants. The Lotte Giants averaged 20,597 per game at their 28,500-capacity Sajik Stadium. The Lotte Group also owns the Nippon Professional Baseball team the Chiba Lotte Marines. The next two highest-drawing teams in the KBO are both from Seoul, the capital and largest city in South Korea (population 10.4 million{2007}). The Doosan Bears drew 15,731 per game and the LG Twins drew 14,778 per game last season. Both ball clubs play in the 30,000-capacity Jamsil Baseball Stadium. Fourth-highest drawing ball club in Korea are the SK Wyverns of Inchon which is South Korea’s third largest city (population 2.6 million {2005}). The SK Wyverns averaged 12,556 per game in 2009. [A Wyvern is a mythical winged dragon.] After these 4 ball clubs, there is a significant drop-off in fan base size, with the fifth-best gate figures being the Kia Tigers’ 8,314 per game. The other three KBO teams do not average higher than 6,000 per game.

[Note: I am not covering KBO attendance on a team-by-team basis on the map here, but I will post a KBO attendance map in mid March, a few days before the 2010 KBO season starts on March 27th.]

The KBO initially went through a period of slight growth and then sudden rising popularity with a spike in attendance in 1995, boosted by the exciting 1995 season which saw three teams, the OB Bears, the LG Twins, and the Lotte Giants, go neck-to-neck for the pennant (the title in ’95 was won by the OB, now Doosan, Bears). The KBO had its then-peak attendance in 1995, of 10,727 peer game. This figure wasn’t surpassed for 14 years. After 1995, the KBO began to see dwindling fan interest that lasted for a decade. What first helped reverse the gradual slide in attendances from 1996 to 2004 was the good showing the South Korean national baseball team had in the first World Baseball Classic, in 2005, when they finished in third. Another boost to the game here came three years later, when South Korea narrowly lost to Japan in extra innings in the second World Baseball Classic, and then six months later, the South Korean baseball team won the gold medal in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. These results convinced many South Korean sports fans that KBO baseball was a product worth supporting. And there is no doubt that the calibre of Korean baseball players has improved in the last 25 years. There is a large number of South Koreans playing in Japan, in the Nippon Baseball League. In the United States, in Major League Baseball, there are currently two Korean players: free agent pitcher Chan Ho Park (who in 1994 became the first Korean player in Major League Baseball) and Cleveland Indians’ right fielder Shin-Soo Choo, who hit 20 home runs and batted .300 in 2009 for the Tribe. These days, KBO ball games, and South Korean high school baseball games, are attended by a considerable amount of MLB scouts.

Here is a good site for KBO news, called True Stories of Korean Baseball {click here} .

KBO attendance figures, KBO attendance figures from KBO official site [list of teams at the top is only partially in English, so here are the teams as they are listed in order of left to right at the top of the attendances list...SK Wyverns, Kia Tigers, Samsung Lions, Hanwha Eagles, LG Twins, Doosan Beras, Lotte Giants, Nexen Heroes].

Thanks to , for the ball caps photos… KBO team caps, here .
Thanks to Munhak Baseball Stadium, by Youngmin Park
Thanks to CW at OOTP Developments message board, for the circular KBO logos Circular cap logos of baseball teams .
Thanks to Baseball message board thread, ‘Possible future locations of MLB games abroad’ {click here} .
Thanks to the contributors to the pages at Korea Baseball Organization

Below, key players for the 2009 KBO champions, the Kia Tigers…


Thanks to Aaron Shinsano (who is a part-time scout for the Chicago Cubs in Korea), at East Windup Chronicle, a KBO and Asian baseball blog, {click here} .
Thanks to Jeremy at Albion Road [on the blogroll here at 'Football Club Guide'], for showing me how to add links in code. Albion Road, here .

Thanks to commenter John, who put in a request for a KBO map and a CPBL (Taiwan) map last November.

Thanks to Demis World Map Server, Demis World Map Server .

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